What’s an electromagnet?

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An electromagnet uses an electric current to generate a magnetic field, which can be strengthened by coiling the wire. When wrapped around a metal object, it becomes an electromagnet with the ability to attract or repel other magnets, forming the basis of an electric motor.

An electromagnet works on the principle that an electric current not only allows electrons to flow in a circuit, but also generates a small magnetic field. When a wire carrying electricity is wound, the magnetic field becomes even stronger. Iron or steel objects surrounded by this coiled electric wire are also magnetized. This combination of electronic energy, coiled wiring, and a conductive metal object forms the basis of the device.

It might be easier to think of an electromagnet as an electronic magnet, not an electric magnet. What is relevant is the free flow of electrons in a circuit and their effects on the wire carrying them. You can demonstrate the basic principles using a supply of bare copper wire, a D-size chemical battery, and an iron or steel nail.

The reaction between metals and acid in battery chemistries causes many free electrons to gather near the negative (-) pole, usually at the end with a slight depression. If someone connects the negative end of the battery with the positive (+) post, all those electrons will flow through the wire to the positive post and eventually back to the negative end. Since there is nothing blocking their path along the wire, such as a light bulb or motor, the electrons will soon stop flowing and the battery will “die”.

However, the flowing electrons do more than go through the wire in a circuit. The movement of the electrons causes a slight magnetic field to form around the wire. This field isn’t particularly strong as long as the wire stays straight, but winding the wire in tight spirals will strengthen the magnetic field many times over as the wire’s surface condenses.

The coiled wire can generate a measurable magnetic field that can affect a compass reading or small iron filings, but it still needs a means to concentrate all the energy. This is where the iron or steel nail comes into play. If the wire carrying the electrons is wrapped tightly around a metal capable of being magnetized, the metal itself becomes an electromagnet. As long as current continues to flow through the wound wire from the battery or other source of electricity, the metal core will have all the power and properties of a natural magnet, including positive and negative poles and the ability to attract or repel others. magnets.

This ability to alternately attract and repel other magnetic fields leads directly to the creation of an electric motor. The shaft of an electric motor is just coiled wires connected to a source of electricity. As the electromagnet alternates between positive and negative polarity, it is attracted or repelled by the permanent magnets that surround it. This causes the shaft to rotate rapidly in one direction and allows the motor to do work based on that movement.

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