What is Electromagnet? Definition, Working Principle, and Applications

An electromagnet is a type of magnet whose magnetic field is produced by the flow of electric current. An electromagnet is a type of temporary magnet that acts as a magnet when the electric current is passed through it and loses its magnetism when the flow of electric current in the insulated copper wire of the electromagnet is stopped.

Working Principle of an Electromagnet

Electromagnet works on the principle of Magnetic effect of electric current.

Let’s do an activity to understand the behavior of electromagnets.

  1. Take around 75cm long piece of insulated flexible wire, 6-10 cm long iron nail, a cell, a switch a bulb & few pins.
  2. Wind the wire tightly around the nail in the form of a coil as shown in the figure.
  3. Connect the free ends of the wire to the terminals of the cell through a switch.
  4. Place some pins on or near the end of the nail, now switch on the current.
  5. Do the pins cling to the tip of the nail? Switch off the current.
  6. Are the pins still clinging to the end of the nail?
  7. No, the paper clips do not cling to the nail. The coil behaves like a magnet when an electric current flows through it.
  8. The magnetic field disappears when the current ceases because the coil generally loses its magnetism. Such coils are called electromagnets.

Uses of Electromagnets

Electromagnets find many applications in different fields because of their remarkable properties. Their strength can be increased by increasing the current in the coil. They can be of varying shapes and sizes depending on their purpose.

1. We would have seen the cranes which are used to lift cars. The end of such a crane has a strong electromagnet attached to it. These cranes are used for lifting heavy loads.

2. Electromagnets are very widely used as components of other electrical devices such as motors, generators, relays, loudspeakers, hard disk, MRI machines, as well as being employed as industrial lifting electromagnets for picking up & moving heavy iron objects like scrap iron.

3. Doctors use tiny electromagnets to take out small pieces of magnetic materials that have accidentally fallen in the eye.

4. Many toys also have electromagnets inside them. Electromagnets are also used in Electromagnetic trains called Maglev’s.

Read More- Magnetic Field and Magnetic Field Lines | Maxwell’s Corkscrew Rule

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