Characteristics of Inductance

Michael Faraday discovered that by moving a magnet through a coil of wire, a voltage was induced across the coil. If a complete circuit was provided, then a current was also induced. The amount of induced voltage is directly proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic field with respect to the coil. The simplest of experiments can prove that when a bar magnet is moved through a coil of wire, a voltage is induced and can be measured on a voltmeter. This is commonly known as Faraday’s Law or the law of electromagnetic induction, which states:

The induced emf or electromagnetic force in a closed loop of wire is proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic flux through a coil of wire.

Conversely, current flowing through a coil of wire produces a magnetic field. When this wire is formed into a coil, it then becomes a basic inductor. The magnetic lines of force around each loop or turn in the coil effectively add to the lines of force around the adjoining loops. This forms a strong magnetic field within and around the coil. Figure 10-118A, illustrates this idea of a coil of wire strengthening a magnetic field. The magnetic lines of force around adjacent loops are deflected into an outer path when the loops are brought close together. This happens because the magnetic lines of force between adjacent loops are in opposition with each other. The total magnetic field for the two loops

is shown in Figure 10-118B. As more loops are added close together, the strength of the magnetic field will increase. Figure 10-118C illustrates the combined effects of many loops of a coil. The result is a strong electromagnet.

The primary aspect of the operation of a coil is its property to oppose any change in current through it. This property is called inductance. When current flows through any conductor, a magnetic field starts to expand from the center of the wire. As the lines of magnetic force grow outward through the conductor, they induce an emf in the conductor itself. The induced voltage is always in the direction opposite to the direction of the current flow. The effects of this countering emf are to oppose the immediate establishment of the maximum current. This effect is only a temporary condition. Once the current reaches a steady value in the conductor, the lines of magnetic force will no longer be expanding and the countering emf will no longer be present.

At the starting instant, the countering emf nearly equals the applied voltage, resulting in a small current flow. However, as the lines of force move outward, the number of lines cutting the conductor per second becomes progressively smaller, resulting in a diminished counter emf. Eventually, the counter emf drops to zero and the only voltage in the circuit is the applied voltage and the current is at its maximum value.

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