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University Physics Volume 2

12.3 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Currents

University Physics Volume 212.3 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Currents
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  1. Preface
  2. Unit 1. Thermodynamics
    1. 1 Temperature and Heat
      1. Introduction
      2. 1.1 Temperature and Thermal Equilibrium
      3. 1.2 Thermometers and Temperature Scales
      4. 1.3 Thermal Expansion
      5. 1.4 Heat Transfer, Specific Heat, and Calorimetry
      6. 1.5 Phase Changes
      7. 1.6 Mechanisms of Heat Transfer
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    2. 2 The Kinetic Theory of Gases
      1. Introduction
      2. 2.1 Molecular Model of an Ideal Gas
      3. 2.2 Pressure, Temperature, and RMS Speed
      4. 2.3 Heat Capacity and Equipartition of Energy
      5. 2.4 Distribution of Molecular Speeds
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    3. 3 The First Law of Thermodynamics
      1. Introduction
      2. 3.1 Thermodynamic Systems
      3. 3.2 Work, Heat, and Internal Energy
      4. 3.3 First Law of Thermodynamics
      5. 3.4 Thermodynamic Processes
      6. 3.5 Heat Capacities of an Ideal Gas
      7. 3.6 Adiabatic Processes for an Ideal Gas
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    4. 4 The Second Law of Thermodynamics
      1. Introduction
      2. 4.1 Reversible and Irreversible Processes
      3. 4.2 Heat Engines
      4. 4.3 Refrigerators and Heat Pumps
      5. 4.4 Statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics
      6. 4.5 The Carnot Cycle
      7. 4.6 Entropy
      8. 4.7 Entropy on a Microscopic Scale
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
  3. Unit 2. Electricity and Magnetism
    1. 5 Electric Charges and Fields
      1. Introduction
      2. 5.1 Electric Charge
      3. 5.2 Conductors, Insulators, and Charging by Induction
      4. 5.3 Coulomb's Law
      5. 5.4 Electric Field
      6. 5.5 Calculating Electric Fields of Charge Distributions
      7. 5.6 Electric Field Lines
      8. 5.7 Electric Dipoles
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
    2. 6 Gauss's Law
      1. Introduction
      2. 6.1 Electric Flux
      3. 6.2 Explaining Gauss’s Law
      4. 6.3 Applying Gauss’s Law
      5. 6.4 Conductors in Electrostatic Equilibrium
      6. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    3. 7 Electric Potential
      1. Introduction
      2. 7.1 Electric Potential Energy
      3. 7.2 Electric Potential and Potential Difference
      4. 7.3 Calculations of Electric Potential
      5. 7.4 Determining Field from Potential
      6. 7.5 Equipotential Surfaces and Conductors
      7. 7.6 Applications of Electrostatics
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    4. 8 Capacitance
      1. Introduction
      2. 8.1 Capacitors and Capacitance
      3. 8.2 Capacitors in Series and in Parallel
      4. 8.3 Energy Stored in a Capacitor
      5. 8.4 Capacitor with a Dielectric
      6. 8.5 Molecular Model of a Dielectric
      7. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    5. 9 Current and Resistance
      1. Introduction
      2. 9.1 Electrical Current
      3. 9.2 Model of Conduction in Metals
      4. 9.3 Resistivity and Resistance
      5. 9.4 Ohm's Law
      6. 9.5 Electrical Energy and Power
      7. 9.6 Superconductors
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    6. 10 Direct-Current Circuits
      1. Introduction
      2. 10.1 Electromotive Force
      3. 10.2 Resistors in Series and Parallel
      4. 10.3 Kirchhoff's Rules
      5. 10.4 Electrical Measuring Instruments
      6. 10.5 RC Circuits
      7. 10.6 Household Wiring and Electrical Safety
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    7. 11 Magnetic Forces and Fields
      1. Introduction
      2. 11.1 Magnetism and Its Historical Discoveries
      3. 11.2 Magnetic Fields and Lines
      4. 11.3 Motion of a Charged Particle in a Magnetic Field
      5. 11.4 Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
      6. 11.5 Force and Torque on a Current Loop
      7. 11.6 The Hall Effect
      8. 11.7 Applications of Magnetic Forces and Fields
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    8. 12 Sources of Magnetic Fields
      1. Introduction
      2. 12.1 The Biot-Savart Law
      3. 12.2 Magnetic Field Due to a Thin Straight Wire
      4. 12.3 Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Currents
      5. 12.4 Magnetic Field of a Current Loop
      6. 12.5 Ampère’s Law
      7. 12.6 Solenoids and Toroids
      8. 12.7 Magnetism in Matter
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    9. 13 Electromagnetic Induction
      1. Introduction
      2. 13.1 Faraday’s Law
      3. 13.2 Lenz's Law
      4. 13.3 Motional Emf
      5. 13.4 Induced Electric Fields
      6. 13.5 Eddy Currents
      7. 13.6 Electric Generators and Back Emf
      8. 13.7 Applications of Electromagnetic Induction
      9. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    10. 14 Inductance
      1. Introduction
      2. 14.1 Mutual Inductance
      3. 14.2 Self-Inductance and Inductors
      4. 14.3 Energy in a Magnetic Field
      5. 14.4 RL Circuits
      6. 14.5 Oscillations in an LC Circuit
      7. 14.6 RLC Series Circuits
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    11. 15 Alternating-Current Circuits
      1. Introduction
      2. 15.1 AC Sources
      3. 15.2 Simple AC Circuits
      4. 15.3 RLC Series Circuits with AC
      5. 15.4 Power in an AC Circuit
      6. 15.5 Resonance in an AC Circuit
      7. 15.6 Transformers
      8. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
    12. 16 Electromagnetic Waves
      1. Introduction
      2. 16.1 Maxwell’s Equations and Electromagnetic Waves
      3. 16.2 Plane Electromagnetic Waves
      4. 16.3 Energy Carried by Electromagnetic Waves
      5. 16.4 Momentum and Radiation Pressure
      6. 16.5 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
      7. Chapter Review
        1. Key Terms
        2. Key Equations
        3. Summary
        4. Conceptual Questions
        5. Problems
        6. Additional Problems
        7. Challenge Problems
  4. A | Units
  5. B | Conversion Factors
  6. C | Fundamental Constants
  7. D | Astronomical Data
  8. E | Mathematical Formulas
  9. F | Chemistry
  10. G | The Greek Alphabet
  11. Answer Key
    1. Chapter 1
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 3
    4. Chapter 4
    5. Chapter 5
    6. Chapter 6
    7. Chapter 7
    8. Chapter 8
    9. Chapter 9
    10. Chapter 10
    11. Chapter 11
    12. Chapter 12
    13. Chapter 13
    14. Chapter 14
    15. Chapter 15
    16. Chapter 16
  12. Index

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain how parallel wires carrying currents can attract or repel each other
  • Define the ampere and describe how it is related to current-carrying wires
  • Calculate the force of attraction or repulsion between two current-carrying wires

You might expect that two current-carrying wires generate significant forces between them, since ordinary currents produce magnetic fields and these fields exert significant forces on ordinary currents. But you might not expect that the force between wires is used to define the ampere. It might also surprise you to learn that this force has something to do with why large circuit breakers burn up when they attempt to interrupt large currents.

The force between two long, straight, and parallel conductors separated by a distance r can be found by applying what we have developed in the preceding sections. Figure 12.9 shows the wires, their currents, the field created by one wire, and the consequent force the other wire experiences from the created field. Let us consider the field produced by wire 1 and the force it exerts on wire 2 (call the force F2F2). The field due to I1I1 at a distance r is

B1=μ0I12πrB1=μ0I12πr
(12.9)
Figure A shows two long, straight, and parallel conductors separated by a distance r. The magnetic field produced by one of the conductors is perpendicular to the direction of the flow of the current. Figure b is the top view. It shows that vector F2 is directed from one of the conductors to another. Vector B1 lies at the same plane as the magnetic field and is perpendicular to F2.
Figure 12.9 (a) The magnetic field produced by a long straight conductor is perpendicular to a parallel conductor, as indicated by right-hand rule (RHR)-2. (b) A view from above of the two wires shown in (a), with one magnetic field line shown for wire 1. RHR-1 shows that the force between the parallel conductors is attractive when the currents are in the same direction. A similar analysis shows that the force is repulsive between currents in opposite directions.

This field is uniform from the wire 1 and perpendicular to it, so the force F2F2 it exerts on a length l of wire 2 is given by F=IlBsinθF=IlBsinθ with sinθ=1:sinθ=1:

F2=I2lB1.F2=I2lB1.
(12.10)

The forces on the wires are equal in magnitude, so we just write F for the magnitude of F2.F2. (Note that F1=F2.F1=F2.) Since the wires are very long, it is convenient to think in terms of F/l, the force per unit length. Substituting the expression for B1B1 into Equation 12.10 and rearranging terms gives

Fl=μ0I1I22πr.Fl=μ0I1I22πr.
(12.11)

The ratio F/l is the force per unit length between two parallel currents I1I1 and I2I2 separated by a distance r. The force is attractive if the currents are in the same direction and repulsive if they are in opposite directions.

This force is responsible for the pinch effect in electric arcs and other plasmas. The force exists whether the currents are in wires or not. It is only apparent if the overall charge density is zero; otherwise, the Coulomb repulsion overwhelms the magnetic attraction. In an electric arc, where charges are moving parallel to one another, an attractive force squeezes currents into a smaller tube. In large circuit breakers, such as those used in neighborhood power distribution systems, the pinch effect can concentrate an arc between plates of a switch trying to break a large current, burn holes, and even ignite the equipment. Another example of the pinch effect is found in the solar plasma, where jets of ionized material, such as solar flares, are shaped by magnetic forces.

The definition of the ampere is based on the force between current-carrying wires. Note that for long, parallel wires separated by 1 meter with each carrying 1 ampere, the force per meter is

Fl=(4π×10−7Tm/A)(1A)2(2π)(1 m)=2×10−7N/m.Fl=(4π×10−7Tm/A)(1A)2(2π)(1 m)=2×10−7N/m.
(12.12)

Since μ0μ0 is exactly 4π×10−7Tm/A4π×10−7Tm/A by definition, and because 1 T=1N/(Am),1 T=1N/(Am), the force per meter is exactly 2×10−7N/m.2×10−7N/m. This is the basis of the definition of the ampere.

Infinite-length wires are impractical, so in practice, a current balance is constructed with coils of wire separated by a few centimeters. Force is measured to determine current. This also provides us with a method for measuring the coulomb. We measure the charge that flows for a current of one ampere in one second. That is, 1 C=1 As.1 C=1 As. For both the ampere and the coulomb, the method of measuring force between conductors is the most accurate in practice.

Example 12.4

Calculating Forces on Wires Two wires, both carrying current out of the page, have a current of magnitude 5.0 mA. The first wire is located at (0.0 cm, 3.0 cm) while the other wire is located at (4.0 cm, 0.0 cm) as shown in Figure 12.10. What is the magnetic force per unit length of the first wire on the second and the second wire on the first?

Figure shows two current carrying wires. Wires form vertices of a right triangle with legs that are 3 centimeters and 4 centimeters long.
Figure 12.10 Two current-carrying wires at given locations with currents out of the page.

Strategy Each wire produces a magnetic field felt by the other wire. The distance along the hypotenuse of the triangle between the wires is the radial distance used in the calculation to determine the force per unit length. Since both wires have currents flowing in the same direction, the direction of the force is toward each other.

Solution The distance between the wires results from finding the hypotenuse of a triangle:

r=(3.0 cm)2+(4.0 cm)2=5.0 cm.r=(3.0 cm)2+(4.0 cm)2=5.0 cm.

The force per unit length can then be calculated using the known currents in the wires:

Fl=(4π×10−7Tm/A)(5×10−3A)2(2π)(5×10−2m)=1×10−10N/m.Fl=(4π×10−7Tm/A)(5×10−3A)2(2π)(5×10−2m)=1×10−10N/m.

The force from the first wire pulls the second wire. The angle between the radius and the x-axis is

θ=tan−1(3 cm4 cm)=36.9°.θ=tan−1(3 cm4 cm)=36.9°.

The unit vector for this is calculated by

cos(36.9)i^sin(36.9)j^=0.8i^0.6j^.cos(36.9)i^sin(36.9)j^=0.8i^0.6j^.

Therefore, the force per unit length from wire one on wire 2 is

Fl=(1×10−10N/m)×(0.8i^0.6j^)=(8×10−11i^6×10−11j^)N/m.Fl=(1×10−10N/m)×(0.8i^0.6j^)=(8×10−11i^6×10−11j^)N/m.

The force per unit length from wire 2 on wire 1 is the negative of the previous answer:

Fl=(−8×10−11i^+6×10−11j^)N/m.Fl=(−8×10−11i^+6×10−11j^)N/m.

Significance These wires produced magnetic fields of equal magnitude but opposite directions at each other’s locations. Whether the fields are identical or not, the forces that the wires exert on each other are always equal in magnitude and opposite in direction (Newton’s third law).

Check Your Understanding 12.4

Two wires, both carrying current out of the page, have a current of magnitude 2.0 mA and 3.0 mA, respectively. The first wire is located at (0.0 cm, 5.0 cm) while the other wire is located at (12.0 cm, 0.0 cm). What is the magnitude of the magnetic force per unit length of the first wire on the second and the second wire on the first?

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