Inductance is a fundamental property of an electrical conductor, which quantifies its ability to store energy in a magnetic field when an electric current is flowing through it. Inductance is typically represented by the symbol “L” and is measured in units called henrys (H).

When a current flows through a conductor, it generates a magnetic field around it. If the current changes, the magnetic field also changes, inducing an electromotive force (EMF) or voltage across the conductor, which opposes the change in current. This phenomenon is known as electromagnetic induction and is the basis for the concept of inductance.

Two types of inductance

  1. Self-inductance: Self-inductance refers to the inductance of a single conductor or coil, where the changing magnetic field generated by the current flowing through the conductor induces a voltage across the conductor itself. This voltage, known as self-induced EMF, opposes any change in the current.

The self-inductance of a coil is primarily determined by its shape, size, the number of turns in the coil, and the core material (if any) around which the coil is wound.

  1. Mutual inductance: Mutual inductance occurs when two or more conductors or coils are placed in proximity, and the changing magnetic field generated by the current flowing through one conductor induces a voltage across the other conductor(s). This voltage, known as mutually induced EMF, depends on the relative orientation and distance between the conductors and their individual inductance.

Inductance plays a crucial role in various electrical and electronic applications, including:

  1. Inductors: Inductors are passive electronic components specifically designed to have a certain amount of inductance. They are typically constructed as coils of wire wound around a core made of air, ferrite, or other magnetic materials. Inductors are used in various applications, such as filtering, energy storage, and impedance matching in circuits.
  2. Transformers: Transformers are devices that use the principle of electromagnetic induction and mutual inductance to transfer electrical energy between two or more coils at different voltage levels while providing electrical isolation.
  3. Energy storage: Inductors can store energy in their magnetic field when a current is flowing through them. This energy storage capability is essential in various electronic circuits, such as switching power supplies and energy-harvesting devices.
  4. Oscillators and resonant circuits: Inductance, in combination with capacitance, forms the basis of oscillators and resonant circuits. These circuits are used to generate and filter specific frequencies in communication systems, signal processing, and other applications.
  5. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC): Inductance plays a critical role in managing electromagnetic interference (EMI) and ensuring electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) in electronic systems. Inductors and transformers can be used to suppress or filter out unwanted signals and noise, thereby improving the performance and reliability of electronic devices.

In summary, inductance is an essential property of electrical conductors that describes their ability to store energy in a magnetic field when a current flows through them. The concepts of self-inductance and mutual inductance are key to understanding the behavior of electrical components and circuits in various applications, such as inductors, transformers, energy storage, oscillators, resonant circuits, and electromagnetic compatibility. The understanding and control of inductance are critical to the design and operation of electronic systems, ensuring their efficiency, reliability, and proper functioning.

Henri – Unit of Inductance

The henry (symbol: H) is the SI unit of inductance, named in honor of the American scientist Joseph Henry, who made significant contributions to the field of electromagnetism alongside the British scientist Michael Faraday.

One henry is defined as the inductance of a conductor or a circuit in which an electromotive force (EMF) of one volt is induced when the current through the conductor changes at a rate of one ampere per second (1 A/s). Mathematically, this can be expressed as:

1 H = 1 V·s/A

In practical applications, the henry is often a relatively large unit, so smaller units such as the millihenry (mH) and microhenry (µH) are frequently used. These smaller units are related to the henry as follows:

1 millihenry (mH) = 1 × 10⁻³ henry (H) = 0.001 H 1 microhenry (µH) = 1 × 10⁻⁶ henry (H) = 0.000001 H

Inductance values for various components, such as inductors and transformers, can range from a few microhenries to several henries, depending on the application, design, and construction of the component. By understanding and controlling inductance in electrical circuits, engineers can optimize the performance, efficiency, and reliability of electronic devices and systems.

Inductance – Examples of Inductors

Inductors come in various shapes, sizes, and inductance values. Here are three examples of inductors with different inductance values:

  1. Small signal inductor: These inductors are often used in low-power electronic circuits such as filters, oscillators, and signal processing applications. An example of a small signal inductor might have an inductance of 10 μH (microhenries).
  2. Power inductor: Power inductors are commonly found in power supply circuits, DC-DC converters, and switching regulators. They typically have higher current ratings and inductance values. An example of a power inductor might have an inductance of 100 μH (microhenries).
  3. High-frequency inductor: These inductors are designed for use in high-frequency applications such as RF (radio frequency) circuits and communication systems. They often have lower inductance values and are optimized for low loss and minimal parasitic capacitance. An example of a high-frequency inductor might have an inductance of 1 μH (microhenry).

These are just a few examples of inductors with different inductance values. The actual inductance value required for a specific application will depend on the circuit design and the desired performance characteristics.

Calculation of Inductance

To calculate the inductance of a conductor, such as a coil, you can use the following formula:

L = (N^2 * μ * A) / l

where: L = Inductance (in henries, H) N = Number of turns in the coil μ = Permeability of the core material (in henry per meter, H/m) A = Cross-sectional area of the core (in square meters, m^2) l = Length of the coil (in meters, m)

The permeability (μ) is a property of the core material that indicates how easily it can be magnetized. It is the product of the permeability of free space (μ0) and the relative permeability (μr) of the material:

μ = μ0 * μr

where: μ0 = Permeability of free space, approximately μ0 = Permeability of free space, approximately 4π x 10^-7 H/m μr = Relative permeability of the material (dimensionless)

To calculate the inductance of a coil or inductor, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the number of turns (N) in the coil.
  2. Identify the core material and find its relative permeability (μr). For air-core coils or coils with non-magnetic materials, μr is approximately equal to 1.
  3. Calculate the permeability of the core material (μ) using the formula: μ = μ0 * μr
  4. Measure the cross-sectional area (A) of the core in square meters (m^2).
  5. Measure the length (l) of the coil in meters (m).
  6. Plug these values into the formula: L = (N^2 * μ * A) / l
  7. Calculate the inductance (L) in henries (H).

Keep in mind that this formula applies mainly to solenoid-shaped inductors with a uniform cross-sectional area and evenly spaced turns. For other geometries, the calculation may be more For other geometries, the calculation may be more complex and might require specialized formulas or numerical methods, such as finite element analysis, to accurately estimate the inductance. Additionally, the formula provided assumes that the magnetic field is confined to the core material and does not account for fringing or leakage flux, which can affect the inductance in certain cases.

In practical applications, it’s also important to consider other factors such as the quality factor (Q), which is the ratio of an inductor’s reactance to its resistance, and the self-resonant frequency (SRF), which is the frequency at which an inductor’s inductive and capacitive reactances cancel each other out, causing the inductor to behave as a resistor. These factors can impact the performance of an inductor in a circuit and should be considered when selecting or designing an inductor for a specific application.

Inductance in RL and RLC Circuits

Inductance plays a crucial role in RL (resistor-inductor) and RLC (resistor-inductor-capacitor) circuits. In both circuit types, the presence of an inductor introduces a time-dependent behavior to the circuit response due to the inductor’s property of opposing changes in current flow.

  1. RL Circuits: In an RL circuit, the inductor (L) and resistor (R) are connected either in series or parallel. The behavior of an RL circuit depends on the time constant, τ (tau), which is defined as the ratio of the inductance to the resistance:

τ = L / R

The time constant (τ) determines how fast the circuit responds to changes in voltage, such as during the charging and discharging of the inductor. The larger the time constant, the slower the circuit’s response.

For a series RL circuit, the impedance (Z) is given by:

Z = √(R^2 + (ωL)^2)

where ω (omega) represents the angular frequency (ω = 2πf, with f being the frequency in hertz).

  1. RLC Circuits: In an RLC circuit, a resistor (R), inductor (L), and capacitor (C) are connected in series or parallel. The circuit can exhibit more complex behavior, including resonance, depending on the component values and the input signal frequency.

For a series RLC circuit, the impedance (Z) is given by:

Z = √(R^2 + (ωL – 1/(ωC))^2)

The resonance frequency (f_res) in a series RLC circuit is the frequency at which the inductive reactance (XL = ωL) equals the capacitive reactance (XC = 1/(ωC)). At this frequency, the circuit exhibits minimum impedance, and maximum current flows through the circuit. The resonance frequency can be calculated using the following formula:

f_res = 1 / (2π√(LC))

For a parallel RLC circuit, the admittance (Y) is used instead of impedance, which is the reciprocal of impedance (Y = 1/Z). The resonance condition in a parallel RLC circuit occurs when the susceptance (imaginary part of the admittance) due to the inductor and capacitor cancel each other out. The resonance frequency for a parallel RLC circuit is the same as that of a series RLC circuit:

f_res = 1 / (2π√(LC))

In both RL and RLC circuits, the presence of inductance affects the transient response (charging and discharging) and the steady-state response to sinusoidal inputs. Analyzing these circuits typically involves solving differential equations or using phasor analysis in the frequency domain.

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