How Electromagnets Work
An electromagnet is a magnet that is created of a piece of iron or steel surrounded by a coil. The metal becomes magnetic when an electric current is passed through the coil, and because electricity can be turned on and off, so can an electromagnet.
Electromagnets are used to convert electrical control signals into mechanical movements, so an electromagnet requires a continuous supply of current to maintain the magnetic field.
By passing a current through a wound coil of wire, north and south magnetic poles will form, so the strength of an electromagnet can easily be changed by changing the amount of electric current that flows through it.
There are electromagnets all around us, used as components of other electrical devices, such as motors, generators, relays, loudspeakers, hard disks, MRI machines, scientific instruments, doorbells, telephones, radios, headphones, burglar alarms and magnetic separation equipment. Also they are used for picking up and moving heavy iron objects such as scrap iron and steel.
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