Even a perfectly straight length of conductor has some inductance. As you know, current in a conductor produces a magnetic field surrounding the conductor. When the current changes, the magnetic field changes. This causes relative motion between the magnetic field and the conductor, and an electromotive force (emf) is induced in the conductor. This emf is called a SELF-INDUCED EMF because it is induced in the conductor carrying the current. The emf produced by this moving magnetic field is also referred to as COUNTER ELECTROMOTIVE FORCE (cemf).
The polarity of the counter electromotive force is in the opposite direction to the applied voltage of the conductor. The overall effect will be to oppose a change in current magnitude.
This effect is summarized by Lenz's law which states that:

If the shape of the conductor is changed to form a loop, then the electromagnetic field around each portion of the conductor cuts across some other portion of the same conductor. This is shown in its simplest form in figure (2).
A length of conductor is looped so that two portions of the conductor lie next to each other. These portions are labeled conductor 1 and conductor 2. When the switch is closed, current (electron flow) in the conductor produces a magnetic field around ALL portions of the conductor. For simplicity, the magnetic field (expanding lines of flux) is shown in a single plane that is perpendicular to both conductors. Although the expanding field of flux originates at the same time in both conductors, it is considered as originating in conductor 1 and its effect on conductor 2 will be explained. With increasing current, the flux field expands outward from conductor 1, cutting across a portion of conductor 2. This results in an induced emf in conductor 2 as shown by the dashed arrow. Note that the induced emf is in the opposite direction to (in OPPOSITION to) the battery current and voltage, as stated in Lenz's law.


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Figure (2). - Self-inductance.


The direction of this induced voltage may be determined by applying the LEFT-HAND RULE FOR GENERATORS. This rule is applied to a portion of conductor 2 that is "lifted" and enlarged for this purpose in figure (2-A). This rule states that if you point the thumb of your left hand in the direction of relative motion of the conductor and your index finger in the direction of the magnetic field, your middle finger, extended as shown, will now indicate the direction of the induced current which will generate the induced voltage (cemf) as shown.

In figure (2-B), the same section of conductor 2 is shown after the switch has been opened.

The flux field is collapsing. Applying the left-hand rule in this case shows that the reversal of flux MOVEMENT has caused a reversal in the direction of the induced voltage. The induced voltage is now in the same direction as the battery voltage.

The most important thing for you to note is that the self-induced voltage opposes BOTH changes in current. That is, when the switch is closed, this voltage delays the initial buildup of current by opposing the battery voltage. When the switch is opened, it keeps the current flowing in the same direction by aiding the battery voltage.

Thus, from the above explanation, you can see that when a current is building up it produces an expanding magnetic field. This field induces an emf in the direction opposite to the actual flow of current. This induced emf opposes the growth of the current and the growth of the magnetic field.

If the increasing current had not set up a magnetic field, there would have been no opposition to its growth. The whole reaction, or opposition, is caused by the creation or collapse of the magnetic field, the lines of which as they expand or contract cut across the conductor and develop the counter emf.

Since all circuits have conductors in them, you can assume that all circuits have inductance. However, inductance has its greatest effect only when there is a change in current. Inductance does NOT oppose current, only a CHANGE in current. Where current is constantly changing as in an ac circuit, inductance has more effect.


To increase the property of inductance, the conductor can be formed into a loop or coil. A coil is also called an inductor. Figure (3) shows a conductor formed into a coil. Current through one loop produces a magnetic field that encircles the loop in the direction as shown in figure (3-A). As current increases, the magnetic field expands and cuts all the loops as shown in figure (3-B). The current in each loop affects all other loops. The field cutting the other loop has the effect of increasing the opposition to a current change.


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Figure (3). - Inductance.


Inductors are classified according to core type. The core is the center of the inductor just as the core of an apple is the center of an apple. The inductor is made by forming a coil of wire around a core. The core material is normally one of two basic types: soft-iron or air. An iron-core inductor and its schematic symbol (which is represented with lines across the top of it to indicate the presence of an iron core) are shown, in figure (4-A). The air-core inductor may be nothing more than a coil of wire, but it is usually a coil formed around a hollow form of some nonmagnetic material such as cardboard. This material serves no purpose other than to hold the shape of the coil. An air-core inductor and its schematic symbol are shown in figure (4-B).

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Figure (4). - Inductor types and schematic symbols.


Factors Affecting Coil Inductance There are several physical factors which affect the inductance of a coil. They include the number of turns in the coil, the diameter of the coil, the coil length, the type of material used in the core, and the number of layers of winding in the coils.

Inductance depends entirely upon the physical construction of the circuit, and can only be measured with special laboratory instruments. Of the factors mentioned, consider first how the number of turns affects the inductance of a coil. Figure (5) shows two coils. Coil (A) has two turns and coil (B) has four turns. In coil (A), the flux field set up by one loop cuts one other loop. In coil (B), the flux field set up by one loop cuts three other loops. Doubling the number of turns in the coil will produce a field twice as strong, if the same current is used. A field twice as strong, cutting twice the number of turns, will induce four times the voltage. Therefore, it can be said that the inductance varies as the square of the number of turns.


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Figure (5). - Inductance factor (turns).


The second factor is the coil diameter. In figure (6) you can see that the coil in view B has twice the diameter of coil view A. Physically, it requires more wire to construct a coil of large diameter than one of small diameter with an equal number of turns. Therefore, more lines of force exist to induce a counter emf in the coil with the larger diameter. Actually, the inductance of a coil increases directly as the cross-sectional area of the core increases. Recall the formula for the area of a circle: A = πr2. Doubling the radius of a coil increases the inductance by a factor of four.


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Figure (6). - Inductance factor (diameter).


The third factor that affects the inductance of a coil is the length of the coil. Figure (7) shows two examples of coil spacing. Coil (A) has three turns, rather widely spaced, making a relatively long coil. A coil of this type has few flux linkages, due to the greater distance between each turn. Therefore, coil (A) has a relatively low inductance. Coil (B) has closely spaced turns, making a relatively short coil. This close spacing increases the flux linkage, increasing the inductance of the coil. Doubling the length of a coil while keeping the same number of turns halves the value of inductance.


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Figure (7). - Inductance factor (coil length). CLOSELY WOUND


The fourth physical factor is the type of core material used with the coil. Figure (8) shows two coils: Coil (A) with an air core, and coil (B) with a soft-iron core. The magnetic core of coil (B) is a better path for magnetic lines of force than is the nonmagnetic core of coil (A). The soft-iron magnetic core's high permeability has less reluctance to the magnetic flux, resulting in more magnetic lines of force. This increase in the magnetic lines of force increases the number of lines of force cutting each loop of the coil, thus increasing the inductance of the coil. It should now be apparent that the inductance of a coil increases directly as the permeability of the core material increases.


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Figure (8). - Inductance factor (core material). SOFT-IRON CORE


Another way of increasing the inductance is to wind the coil in layers. Figure (9) shows three cores with different amounts of layering. The coil in figure 2-9(A) is a poor inductor compared to the others in the figure because its turns are widely spaced and there is no layering.

The flux movement, indicated by the dashed arrows, does not link effectively because there is only one layer of turns. A more inductive coil is shown in figure (9-B). The turns are closely spaced and the wire has been wound in two layers. The two layers link each other with a greater number of flux loops during all flux movements. Note that nearly all the turns, such as X, are next to four other turns (shaded). This causes the flux linkage to be increased.

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Figure (9). - Coils of various inductances.


A coil can be made still more inductive by winding it in three layers, as shown in figure (9-C). The increased number of layers (cross-sectional area) improves flux linkage even more. Note that some turns, such as Y, lie directly next to six other turns (shaded). In actual practice, layering can continue on through many more layers. The important fact to remember, however, is that the inductance of the coil increases with each layer added.

As you have seen, several factors can affect the inductance of a coil, and all of these factors are variable. Many differently constructed coils can have the same inductance. The important information to remember, however, is that inductance is dependent upon the degree of linkage between the wire conductor (s) and the electromagnetic field. In a straight length of conductor, there is very little flux linkage between one part of the conductor and another. Therefore, its inductance is extremely small. It was shown that conductors become much more inductive when they are wound into coils. This is true because there is maximum flux linkage between the conductor turns, which lie side by side in the coil.

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