Magnetic Field Pattern
- The magnetic field generated by a straight wire is concentric circles around the wire as shown in figure (a) above.
- Take notes that when the direction of the current is reversed, the direction of the magnetic field line is also reversed.
- The direction of the magnetic field line can be determined by Maxwell’s Screw Rule or the Right-Hand Grip Rule.
- Sometime, the magnetic field pattern may be given in plan view, as shown in figure (b).
- In plan view, a dot in the wire shows the current coming out from the plane whereas a cross in the wire shows the current moving into the plane.
|(Figure (c): A dot indicates the current move out from a plane whereas a cross indicates the current move into the plane)|
Direction of the Magnetic Field
The direction of the magnetic field formed by a current-carrying straight wire can be determined by the
- Right-Hand Grip Rule or the
- Maxwell Screw Rule.
Right-Hand Grip Rule
Grip the wire with the right hand, with the thumb pointing along the direction of the current. The other fingers give the direction of the magnetic field around the wire. This is illustrated in the figure below.
The Maxwell’s Screw Rules
The Maxwell Screw Rules sometimes is also called Maxwell’s Corkscrew Rule. Imagine a right-handed screw being turned so that it bores its way in the direction of the current in the wire. The direction of rotation gives the direction of the magnetic field.
Strength of the Magnetic Field
- The strength of the magnetic field form by a current-carrying conductor depends on the magnitude of the current.
- A stronger current will produce a stronger magnetic field around the wire as shown in Figure (f) below.
- The strength of the field decreases out as you move further out. This is illustrated in figure (g) below. Thus, you must be very careful when you are asked to draw the magnetic field in your exam.
- The distance of the field lines must increase as it is further out from the wire.