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Current Balance Lab - investigate how a magnetic field affects a wire carrying an electric current.

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Physics IB

Electromagnetism : The Current Balance Lab


        To investigate how a magnetic field affects a wire carrying an electric current.  Furthermore, to examine how the strength of a solenoids magnetic field depends on the size of the current through the wire.


        I predict that during this experiment we shall notice a number of specific relationships between the magnetic field and a current carrying wire.  More specifically, tracing back to notes taken during our electromagnetism class discussions, the relationship between strength of a solenoids magnetic field and the size of the current through the corresponding wire will be the following:


        Where B is the strength of the magnetic field inside the solenoid, F the force, ISthe current going through the wire, and L the horizontal length of the solenoid.  The force, F, is perpendicular to the directions of both the magnetic field and the velocity of the particle.  To find this force we will be balancing the current balance with a small paper mass on the other side.  From previous notes and textbook readings, I know that the graph of the force F, versus IS

...read more.


Data Collection:

Data Table 1: When 4 amperes (IB = 4) of current is passing through solenoid

Current IS (amperes)

Weight (grams)

Force N(g = 10m/s)

3.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.13 g

0.0013 N

4.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.17 g

0.0017 N

5.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.21 g

0.0021 N

5.5 image02.png0.1 A

0.25 g

0.0025 N

Data Table 2: When 2 amperes (IB = 2) of current is passing through solenoid

Current IS (amperes)

Weight (grams)

Force N(g = 10m/s)

1.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.03 g

0.0003 N

2.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.05 g

0.0005 N

3.0 image02.png0.1 A

0.07 g

0.0007 N

Length of solenoid, L = 2.9 cm = 0.029 m

Data Analysis:

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        Although for the purposes of our experiment, the validity of our graphs is more than sufficient; there are still minor errors that could have altered the slightly off linear trend.  Already from the start of the experiment it was difficult to classify exactly what it was to have the strip “balanced”.  Balance was nearly impossible to quantify in our experiment and it was left largely debatable as to whether or not there was perfect balance.  Moreover, since we dealt with such small numbers throughout the experiment it was often difficult to get either a smaller mass, or even a smaller amount of current.

        Some additional activities that could be considered for the future would be to design an experiment to show that the field produced by a solenoid is uniform within the interior of the solenoid (because here we assumed this).  Also we could investigate having the strip and the solenoid connected in series so that the same current runs through both and investigates the force versus the current relationship.

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