# Inductance

We have all gone through metal detectors in public places for security reasons. But have you ever wondered how these detectors so efficiently detect hidden metallic objects? Well, the beep sound heard when a metallic object is detected indicates a current passing through a microphone. This sound is only heard when a metallic object is detected.

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Fig. 1 - The figure shows a security door to detect hidden metal weapons attached to a human being.

Due to the presence of a metallic object, the magnetic field around the coil in the machine changes. This induces an electric current through the coil or, in other words, an electric current starts passing through the machine. The property of a coil that generates an electric current is called inductance. In this article, we will learn about inductance, how induced e.m.f. relates to inductance and how energy is stored in an inductor.

## Inductance Definition

The phenomenon of generating current/e.m.f. in a conducting circuit by changing the position, orientation, or strength of a magnetic field is called electromagnetic inductance.

In 1830, according to the results of experiments performed by Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry, electric currents were induced in a coil due to a change in magnetic fields surrounding it. In other words, an electric current is induced in coils due to a change in magnetic flux (number of magnetic field lines passing through an area) linked with the same coil.

Faraday provided two laws of electromagnetic induction based on his experimental results.

1. First law - An e.m.f. is induced whenever a magnetic field linked with the coil changes. This e.m.f. lasts as long as there is a changing magnetic field.

2. Second law - The magnitude of the e.m.f. induced in the coil is directly proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux linked with the coil.

$E_i\propto\frac{\phi_2-\phi_1}{t}$where $$\phi_1$$ and $$\phi_2$$ are the initial and final magnetic flux passing through the conductor.$E_i=k\frac{\phi_2-\phi_1}{t}$ where $$k$$ is the proportionality constant, and its value is 1 for all systems of units.So, the magnitude of an induced e.m.f. is $$E_i=\frac{|\phi_2-\phi_1|}{t}$$.

The direction of this induced e.m.f was provided by Lenz's law. According to Lenz's law, the direction of the induced e.m.f. is such that it opposes the cause of its production, i.e., a change in the magnetic flux.

$E_i=-\frac{\phi_2-\phi_1}{t}$

or

$E_i=-\frac{d\phi}{dt}\tag{1}$

Here the negative sign indicates that an induced e.m.f. opposes the change in magnetic flux. The direction of the induced e.m.f will then determine the direction in which the induced current will flow.

Fig. 2 - The figure shows a coil placed perpendicular to the plane containing the magnet.

In the above diagram, the magnetic flux passing through the coil changes due to the movement of a magnet toward the coil, which induces an electric current.

The induced electric current is in the anticlockwise direction. Due to this electric current, the coil starts behaving as a magnet. According to the Right Hand Rule, the coil's north pole faces the approaching bar magnet's north pole, as shown in figure 2. This would result in a repulsive force that opposes the bar magnet's motion toward the coil.

This inductance feature of a coil is used in our houses through inductors to protect our electrical appliances from the sudden increase or decrease of an electric current. In the next part, we will learn about these inductors and how their inductance varies with electric current.

## Inductance Formula

A coil that stores the energy in the form of a magnetic field when an electric current is passed through the coil is called an inductor.

Imagine a coil is connected to an electric circuit. The change in an electric current through the circuit induces an e.m.f./electric current in the coil. This electric current is due to the change of magnetic flux passing through the coil. The induced current's direction opposes the change in electric current through the circuit.

Self-inductance is the property of a coil with which an e.m.f./current is induced in a coil to oppose the change in the strength of the current flowing through the coil.

Imagine an inductor is connected to a battery in the circuit. After connecting, the battery is turned on, or the value of an electric current increases from 0 to some ampere. This change in electric current through the circuit induces an opposing e.m.f. in an inductor.

Fig. 3 - The figure shows an opposing induced electric current through an inductor while an electric current increases in the circuit.

The above diagram shows that the electric current passing through the circuit is in an anticlockwise direction. In contrast, the induced current through the inductor is in a clockwise direction. In other words, an induced current opposing the increase in electric current through the circuit.

After some time, the circuit's electric current becomes stable, so there is no change in magnetic flux through the inductor. In this case, no e.m.f. is induced in the inductor.

Now, when we switch off the battery, the value of the electric current flowing through the circuit decreases from some ampere to zero. This change in an electric current induces an e.m.f. in the inductor, which opposes the decrease in electric current.

Fig. 4 - The figure shows an induced electric current through an inductor in the direction of an electric current through the circuit.

The above diagram shows the electric current through the circuit and an induced current through an inductor flow in the same direction. In other words, an induced current opposes the decrease in an electric current through the circuit.

An inductor usually consists of a coil of conducting material wrapped around a ferromagnetic material's core. An inductor's core provides a medium to concentrate and set the maximum limit of the magnetic flux passing through the coil.

This magnetic flux $$\left(\phi\right)$$ is directly proportional to the electric current flowing through the coil.

$\phi\propto I$ or $\phi=LI\tag{2}$ where $$L$$ is a constant of proportionality which is called the coefficient of self-inductance or self-inductance of a coil.

When $$I=1\,\mathrm{ampere}$$, then the equation (2) becomes $$L=\phi$$.

When unit current flows through the coil, the coefficient of self-inductance is numerically equal to the magnetic flux linked with the coil.

## Inductance Unit

From equations (1) and (2),

\begin{align*}E_i&=-\frac{d}{dt}\left(LI\right)\\E_i&=-L\frac{dI}{dt}\\L&=-\frac{E_i}{\frac{dI}{dt}}\tag{3}\end{align*}

The SI unit of $$L$$ is henry. From equation (3),

$1\,\mathrm{henry}=\frac{1\,\mathrm{volt}}{1\,\mathrm{ampere\,per\,sec}}$

The inductance of a coil is said to be equal to one henry (H) when a current change at the rate of one ampere per second through the coil induces an e.m.f. of one volt in the coil.

The coefficient of self-inductance $$\left(L\right)$$ depends upon the physical properties of the coil.

• The number of turns in the coil,
• The area of the cross-section of the coil,
• The material of the core on which the coil is wound.

In the next section, we will learn about the self-inductance of a long solenoid and how it varies with its physical properties.

## Inductance Equation

When a coil is wound into a tightly packed helix, it behaves as a solenoid. In the case of a long solenoid, the length of the solenoid is large compared to the radius of its cross-section.

Imagine an electric current $$I$$ is passing through the solenoid of length $$l$$ and with a number of turns $$N$$. The magnetic field $$B$$ at any point inside the solenoid is

$B=\frac{\mu_0NI}{l}\tag{4}$

where $$\mu_0$$ is the absolute magnetic permeability of free space/vacuum.

Let $$A$$ be the area of the cross-section of the solenoid. Then the magnetic flux passing through each turn of the solenoid in terms of the magnetic field and area is $$\phi=B\cdot A$$ or $$\phi=BA\cos(\theta)$$ where $$\theta$$ is the angle between magnetic field lines and the area vector of a solenoid.

## Inductance measurement

Let's say the solenoid is placed perpendicular to the direction of magnetic field lines, such that the angle between the area vector and the magnetic field lines is $$0^\circ.$$ Therefore

$\phi=BA.$

Using the value of equation (4), the above equation becomes

$\phi=\frac{\mu_0NI}{l}A$

Total magnetic flux through the solenoid with $$N$$ number of turns is

\begin{align*}\phi&=\frac{\mu_0NIA}{l}\times N\\\phi&=\frac{\mu_0N^2IA}{l}\tag{5}\end{align*}

From equations (2) and (5),

\begin{align*}LI&=\frac{\mu_0N^2IA}{l}\\L&=\frac{\mu_0N^2A}{l}\end{align*}

This equation shows the dependence of the inductance of a solenoid on its physical properties. From the equation, it is clear that the inductance of a solenoid is

1. directly proportional to the square of the number of turns

2. directly proportional to the area of the cross-section

3. inversely proportional to the length of the solenoid

In these last two parts, we have discussed how an induced e.m.f. depends upon various physical parameters and how it opposes the flow of electric current through the circuit. This shows the resemblance of self-inductance with the inertia corresponding to the mass of an object in mechanics. The amount of work done by the electric charges flowing through the coil against the opposing induced e.m.f. to maintain the flow of electric current is stored in an inductor as magnetic potential energy. In the next part, we study about the magnetic potential energy and how it relates to the self-inductance of an inductor.

## Magnetic Potential Energy and Inductance

When an alternating current flows through an inductor, the current increases from 0 to some maximum value, say $$I_0$$. Let $$I$$ be the value of current passing through an inductor at time $$t$$. Due to the change in electric current, an e.m.f. is induced in the inductor. The magnitude of this induced e.m.f. in terms of the inductance $$L$$ is,

$E_i=L\frac{dI}{dt}\tag{6}$

This e.m.f is also known as back e.m.f as it opposes the flow of an electric current through the circuit. During the flow of an alternating current through the inductor, the current amount increases or decreases at a constant rate. Then, the work done by the electric charge while flowing through the inductor against this induced e.m.f. is $$W=E_iq$$.

By differentiating the above equation while keeping induced e.m.f. constant (due to constant value of $$L$$ and $$\frac{dI}{dt}$$)

$\frac{dW}{dt}=E_i\frac{dq}{dt}$

where $$\frac{dq}{dt}$$ is an electric current flowing through the inductor.

$\therefore\quad \frac{dW}{dt}=E_iI\tag{7}$

From equation (6) and (7)

\begin{align*}\frac{dW}{dt}&=L\frac{dI}{dt}I\\\end{align*} If we ignore the resistive losses, then the total amount of the work done by the electric charge to maintain an electric current $$I$$ through the inductor is

\begin{align*}\int dW&=\int_0^I LIdI\\W&=L\int_0^I IdI\\W&=L\frac{I^2}{2}\\W&=\frac{1}{2}LI^2\tag{8}\end{align*}This work done by the electric charge is stored in the inductor in the form of magnetic potential energy i.e. $$U_{L}=\frac{1}{2}LI^2$$.

In mechanics, the kinetic energy of particle of mass $$\left(m\right)$$ moving with velocity $$\left(v\right)$$ is $$K=\frac{1}{2}mv^2\tag{9}$$.

By comparing equations (8) and (9), we find that as mass is the measure of inertia in mechanics, inductance is analogously the measure of 'inertia' in electronics.

## Inductance - Key takeaways

• The phenomenon of generating current/e.m.f. in a conducting circuit by changing the position, orientation, or strength of a magnetic field is called electromagnetic inductance.
• Faraday's first law - An e.m.f. is induced whenever a magnetic field linked with the coil changes. This e.m.f. lasts as long as there is a change in a magnetic field.
• Faraday's second law - The magnitude of e.m.f. induced in the coil is directly proportional to the rate of change of magnetic flux linked with the coil.
• According to Lenz's law, the direction of the induced e.m.f./current is such that it opposes the change in the magnetic flux, i.e., $$E_i=-\frac{d\phi}{dt}$$.
• A coil that stores the energy in the form of a magnetic field when an electric current is passed through the coil is called an inductor.
• Self-inductance is the property of a coil with which an e.m.f./current is induced in a coil to oppose the change in the strength of the current flowing through the coil.
• The magnetic flux $$\phi$$ is directly proportional to the electric current flowing through the coil, i.e., $$\phi\propto I$$ or $$\phi=LI$$ where $$L$$ is the constant of proportionality, also known as the self-inductance of the coil.
• When unit current flows through the coil, the coefficient of self-inductance is numerically equal to the magnetic flux linked with the coil.
• The inductance of a coil is said to be one henry (H) when a current change at the rate of one ampere per second through the coil induces an e.m.f. of one volt in the coil.
• The inductance of a long solenoid in terms of its physical parameters is $$L=\frac{\mu_0N^2A}{l}$$.
• The work done by the electric charge against the induced e.m.f. to maintain the current through the inductor is $$U_\mathrm{L}=\frac{1}{2}LI^2$$.
• The inductance is like an ectrical inertia equivalent to mass as a mechanical inertia.

## References

1. Fig. 1 - Seguridad (https://www.flickr.com/photos/62518311@N00/308874031) by Daquella Manera (https://www.flickr.com/photos/62518311@N00) under the license of CC0 1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/?ref=openverse).
2. Fig. 2 - Lenz's law, StudySmarter Originals.
3. Fig. 3 - Induced current in an opposite direction of electric current through the circuit, StudySmarter Originals.
4. Fig. 4 - Induced current in the same direction of electric current through the circuit, StudySmarter Originals.

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What is inductance?

The phenomenon of generating current/e.m.f. in a conducting circuit by changing the position, orientation, or strength of a magnetic field is called electromagnetic inductance

What causes inductance?

According to Lens law, an e.m.f. induced in the coil due to the change in magnetic flux linked with the coil opposes the cause of production. Therefore, this change in magnetic flux linked with the coil is the cause of inductance.

What is the function of inductance?

The function of a coil's inductance is to oppose the change in the electric current flowing through the coil.

What is an example of inductance?

Besides a conductive wire loop, a conductive straight wire is also an excellent example of inductance.

What is the basic unit of inductance?

The basic unit of inductance is henry (H).

## Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

The base unit used when measuring inductance is _____.

The relation between the inductance of a coil and the amount of e.m.f induced in a coil is

With an increase in the number of turns of a coil, the inductance of a coil _____.

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