Applications Of Magnetism
Electromagnets are utilized as key components of transformers in power supplies that convert electrical energy from a wall outlet into direct current energy for a wide range of electronic devices, and in motors and generators. High field superconducting magnets (where superconducting coils generate the magnetic field) provide the magnetic field in MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices that are now used extensively in hospitals and medical centers.
Magnetic materials that are difficult to demagnetize are used to construct permanent magnets. Permanent magnet applications are in loudspeakers, earphones, electric meters, and small motors. A loudspeaker consists of a wire carrying an alternating current. When the wire is in the magnetic field of the permanent magnet it experiences a force that generates a sound wave by alternate compression and rarefaction of the surrounding air when the alternating frequency of the current is in the audible range.
The more esoteric applications of magnetism are in the area of magnetic recording and storage devices in computers, and in audio and video systems. Magnetic storage devices work on the principle of two stable magnetic states represented by the 0 and 1 in the binary number system. Floppy disks have dozens of tracks on which data can be digitally written in or stored by means of a write-head and then accessed or read by means of a read-head. A write-head provides a strong local magnetic field to the region through which the storage track of the disk is passed. The read-head senses stray magnetic flux from the storage track of the disk as it passes over the head. Another example of digital magnetic storage and reading is the magnetic strip on the back of plastic debit and credit cards. The magnetic strip contains identification data which can be accessed through, for example, an automatic teller machine.
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