Motional EMF

Motional EMF

When a conductor is moved across a magnetic field, a potential difference is setup across its ends. This potential difference is called ‘Motional EMF’.

Consider the bar in the figure below. It has length l and moves at speed v to the right in magnetic field B, which is directed into the page.

Motional EMF

The field exerts a magnetic force on the free electrons in the bar. That force is FB = q (v x B).

Using the right-hand rule, you will find that the (v x B) vector is directed upward along the bar, but since electrons are negatively charged, the magnetic force acting upon them is directed downward. As a result, electrons flow to the bottom of the bar, and the bottom becomes negatively charged while the top becomes positively charged.

The separation of charge in the rod creates an electric field within the bar in the downward direction, since the top of the bar is positively charged and the bottom of the bar is negatively charged. The force from the electric field FE = qE.

Pulls negative charges upward while the force from the magnetic field pulls negative charges downward. Initially, the magnetic field is much stronger than the electric field, but as more electrons are drawn to the bottom of the bar, the electric field becomes increasingly stronger. When the two fields are of equal strength, the forces balance one another out, halting the flow of electrons in the bar. This takes place when

FE = – FB

qE = -q (v x B)

E = – (v x B)

Induced Current and Motional EMF: The electric field in the metal bar causes a potential difference of V = El = vBl. If the bar slides along metal rails, as in the figure below, a closed circuit is set up with current flowing in the counter clockwise direction, up the bar and then around the metal rail back to the bottom of the bar. This is called an Induced Current.

Induced Current

The moving bar is a source of an electromotive force, called motional emf, since the emf is generated by the motion of the bar.

The force is defined as ε = vBl.

The magnitude of the induced emf can be increased by increasing the strength of the magnetic field, moving the bar faster, or using a longer bar.