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Investigation into the Strength of an Electromagnet

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Introduction

George Maund

Investigation into the Strength of an Electromagnet

Planning Experimental Procedure

When electric current is passed through a wire a magnetic field is created. If you wind the wire around an iron core, then you have an electromagnet. They have North and South poles just like normal magnets, but it does have some differences – if you switch off the current, the magnetic field is lost, and the strength of the magnetic field can be altered by either changing the number of coils around the core, or by changing the current.

I intend to measure the strength of an electromagnet – a magnet consisting of an iron core with plastic-coated wire rapped around. When current is applied through the wire, the iron core becomes magnetic – and I intend to test the effect of varying the current. The factors that will have an affect on the quantity I’m investigating include room temperature, material of core, number of coils around the core – I intend to keep all of these constant. The factor I intend to vary in my investigation (independent variable) will be current – the current flowing through the coils of the electromagnet. I have chosen this as I think it will be the easiest to investigate and carry out. The other variables (number of coils) will be kept constant so as to give valuable and worthwhile results.

Prediction

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Middle

0.53

2.0

0.94

0.96

0.99

0.95

0.98

0.97

2.5

1.65

1.64

1.65

1.65

1.66

1.65

3.0

2.00

1.80

1.50

2.00

1.90

1.84

3.5

2.20

2.30

2.30

2.20

2.40

2.28

4.0

2.60

2.50

2.90

2.90

2.80

2.74

4.5

3.00

2.90

3.00

2.80

2.90

2.92

5.0

3.10

3.00

2.90

3.10

3.00

3.02

Analysing Evidence and Drawing Conclusions

Conclusion

My results clearly show an S curve – although different to my predicted pattern, is still a pattern. There is some distinct proportionality between Current and Force in the middle section ‘B’ because equal changes in Current cause equal changes in the Force required to pull the piece of metal away from the electromagnet. Section ‘A’ shows that the electromagnet takes time to get started before it reaches the start of section ‘B’ (1.5A). Section ‘C’ is where the graph levels off, where the electromagnet reaches maximum strength – there are no domains left to be turned.

Section ‘A’ shows the domains taking time to be turned at first, but once they reach ‘B’ they are more easily turned. Once they get past 4.5A there are barely any domains left. Section ‘A’ is the only part I did not foresee in my prediction.

Scientific Explanation

I put my conclusion down to the Domain Theory, this time different to my initial prediction as I expand on it to explain section ‘A’ on my graph.

To begin with it is quite difficult for the magnetic field to turn the first few domains. After this it is easier for the domains to be turned because the more domains that are turned, the easier it is for others to be turned.

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Conclusion

I say generally I mean all except for the readings of 2.5A that read as follows:

2.5

1.65

1.64

1.65

1.65

1.66

1.65

These measurements should have fallen in line with the curve of the graph, meaning they should have read at around 1.40N each time to give an average of approximately 1.40 Newtons. They should have looked something like this:

2.5

1.39

1.40

1.40

1.41

1.40

1.40

Compared to the rest of the results here, they fit in much better. They are highlighted in bold to show up easier.

Current

Force (N)

Average

(A)

1

2

3

4

5

0.5

0.05

0.05

0.05

0.05

0.05

0.05

1.0

0.20

0.20

0.15

0.15

0.15

0.17

1.5

0.50

0.55

0.50

0.55

0.55

0.53

2.0

0.94

0.96

0.99

0.95

0.98

0.97

2.5

1.39

1.40

1.40

1.41

1.40

1.40

3.0

2.00

1.80

1.50

2.00

1.90

1.84

3.5

2.20

2.30

2.30

2.20

2.40

2.28

4.0

2.60

2.50

2.90

2.90

2.80

2.74

4.5

3.00

2.90

3.00

2.80

2.90

2.92

5.0

3.10

3.00

2.90

3.10

3.00

3.02

I can’t blame the experimental procedure for the flawed results at 2.5A. However, I can hope to improve the method by suggesting a change. This would be that the electromagnet’s temperature be controlled by using a Bunsen burner, and to check that the temperature does not fluctuate at all. I would make another change to the method: to exchange the makeshift electromagnet for a properly built set, which would be more reliable than the one I used. This would eliminate the chance of the distance between coils, and the distance between the core and the coils changing. I think the degree of accuracy I used was fine, and the amount of readings was ideal, as the graph showed even more aspects to the line (or curve) than I had anticipated.

In future I would recommend doing an investigation into the resistance of a copper wire, as I predict this would give similar style results to an investigation into an electromagnet.

...read more.

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