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INDUCTORS: DEFINITION AND HISTORY


An inductor is an energy storage device. It can be as simple as a single loop of wire or consist of many turns of wire wound around a special core. Energy is stored in the form of a magnetic field in or around the inductor. Whenever current flows through a wire, it creates a magnetic field around the wire. By placing multiple turns of wire around a loop, we concentrate the magnetic field into a smal|er space where it can be more useful. When you apply a voltage across an inductor, a current starts to flow. It does not instantly rise to some level, but rather increases gradually over time. The relationship of voltage to current vs. time gives rise to a property called inductance. 

An inductor is a passive electronic component that storesenergy in the form of a magnetic field. In its simplest form, an inductor consistsof a wire loop or coil. The inductance is directly proportional to the number ofturns in the coil. Inductance also depends on the radius of the coil and on the type of material around which the coil is wound. For a given coil radius and number of turns, air cores result in the least inductance.

Apr 30, 1807 - Part first considers the reaction of a single inductor, the steady EMF of a single Inductor unaffected, and self-excitation with separate magnet winding. Serial. Elect'n—April 30, 1807.

Inductance (L) results from the magnetic field forming around a current-carrying conductor which tends to resist changes in the current. Electric current through the conductor creates a magnetic flux proportional to the current. A change in this current creates a corresponding change in magnetic flux which, in turn, by Faraday's Law generates an electromotive force (EMF) that opposes this change in current. Inductance is a measure of the amount of EMF generated per unit change in current. For example, an inductor with an inductance of 1 henry produces an EMF of 1 volt when the current through the inductor changes at the rate of 1 ampere per second. The number of loops, the size of each loop, and the material it is wrapped around all affect the inductance. 

One way to visualize the action of an inductor is to imagine a narrow channel with water flowing through it, and a heavy water wheel that has its paddles dipping into the channel. Imagine that the water in the channel is not flowing initially.

Now you try to start the water flowing. The paddle wheel will tend to prevent the water from flowing until it has come up to speed with the water. If you then try to stop the flow of water in the channel, the spinning water wheel will try to keep the water moving until its speed of rotation slows back down to the speed of the water. An inductor is doing the same thing with the flow of electrons in a wire -- an inductor resists a change in the flow of electrons.

The schematics symbols for most major electrical components can be found in this table. However, each component may have numerous possible representations. In cases where there is more than one common symbol we have tried to give an alternate representation.

Inductors do not behave the same as resistors. Whereas resistors simply oppose the flow of electrons through them (by dropping a voltage directly proportional to the current), inductors oppose changes in current through them, by dropping a voltage directly proportional to the rate of change of current. In accordance with Lenz's Law, this induced voltage is always of such a polarity as to try to maintain current at its present value. That is, if current is increasing in magnitude, the induced voltage will “push against” the electron flow; if current is decreasing, the polarity will reverse and “push with” the electron flow to oppose the decrease. This opposition to current change is called reactance, rather than resistance.

A variety of magnetic devices are commonly used in switching converters. These devices differ in their core flux density variations, as well as in the magnitudes of the ac winding currents. When the flux density variations are small, core loss can be neglected. Alternatively, a low-frequency material can be used,having higher saturation flux density.

Toroidal inductors / transformers are the high performers among inductors. They offer the smallest size (by volume and weight) and lower electromagnetic interference (EMI). Their windings cool better because of the proportionally larger surface area. A 360 degree wound toroidal transformer has a high degree of symmetry. Its geometry leads to near complete magnetic field cancellation outside of its coil, hence the toroidal inductor has less EMI when compared against other inductors of equal power rating. Windings that are less than 360 degrees exhibit more EMI.

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