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What are Eddy Currents?

by | Thursday, April 30, 2015 |

Eddy currents are currents which circulate in conductors like swirling eddies in a stream. They are induced by changing magnetic fields and flow in closed loops, perpendicular to the plane of the magnetic field. They can be created when a conductor is moving through a magnetic field, or when the magnetic field surrounding a stationary conductor is varying i.e. anything which results in the conductor experiencing a change in the intensity or direction of a magnetic field can produce eddy...

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Power Walking – Smart Shoes Generate Power from Walking

by | Wednesday, April 01, 2015 |

Wearable devices, such as health monitors and sensors, are of great interest. One of the major limitations in making these devices a practical reality has been the power supply – the need for large, heavy batteries. Movement generates power and a human can produce 10s of Watts just from walking and up to a kilowatt when sprinting. Harvesting this energy has the potential to overcome the power supply problem and German researchers have recently built power harvesting devices which are small...

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What is a ferrofluid?

by | Saturday, January 31, 2015 |

A ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes highly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. The distinctive ‘spikey’ shape of a magnetized ferrofluid is caused by the need to find the most stable shape in order to minimize the total energy of the system, an effect known as the normal-field instability. The fluid is more easily magnetized than the surrounding air, so is drawn out along the magnetic field lines, resulting in the formation of peaks and troughs. However, the extension of the...

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What is a homopolar motor?

by | Wednesday, December 31, 2014 |

A homopolar motor is a direct current (DC) electric motor which produces constant circular motion. This device is easy to create and the figure below illustrates the basic concepts behind its operation. A permanent magnet is attached to one terminal of a DC power supply, in this case a AAA battery. A conducting wire connects the other terminal to the magnet, thus completing the circuit. This wire should be free to rotate whilst always maintaining contact with both the terminal and magnet. The...

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What is a Halbach Array?

by | Sunday, November 30, 2014 |

A Halbach array is a specific arrangement of a series of permanent magnets. The array has a spatially rotating pattern of magnetism which cancels the field on one side, but boosts it on the other. The main advantages of Halbach arrays are that they can produce strong magnetic fields on one side whilst creating a very small stray field on the opposite side. This effect is best understood by observing the magnetic flux distribution. Strips of ferromagnetic materials (materials which can be...

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