Magnetic core

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A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high magnetic permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, generators, inductors, magnetic recording heads, and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such as iron, or ferrimagnetic compounds such as ferrites. The high permeability, relative to the surrounding air, causes the magnetic field lines to be concentrated in the core material. The magnetic field is often created by a current-carrying coil of wire around the core.

Magnetism class of physical phenomena

Magnetism is a class of physical phenomena that are mediated by magnetic fields. Electric currents and the magnetic moments of elementary particles give rise to a magnetic field, which acts on other currents and magnetic moments. The most familiar effects occur in ferromagnetic materials, which are strongly attracted by magnetic fields and can be magnetized to become permanent magnets, producing magnetic fields themselves. Only a few substances are ferromagnetic; the most common ones are iron, cobalt and nickel and their alloys such as steel. The prefix ferro- refers to iron, because permanent magnetism was first observed in lodestone, a form of natural iron ore called magnetite, Fe3O4.

Magnetic field spatial distribution of vectors allowing the calculation of the magnetic force on a test particle

A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence of electric charges in relative motion and magnetized materials. Magnetic fields are observed in a wide range of size scales, from subatomic particles to galaxies. In everyday life, the effects of magnetic fields are often seen in permanent magnets, which pull on magnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. Magnetic fields surround and are created by magnetized material and by moving electric charges such as those used in electromagnets. Magnetic fields exert forces on nearby moving electrical charges and torques on nearby magnets. In addition, a magnetic field that varies with location exerts a force on magnetic materials. Both the strength and direction of a magnetic field vary with location. As such, it is an example of a vector field.

Electromagnet Type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by the flow of electric current

An electromagnet is a type of magnet in which the magnetic field is produced by an electric current. Electromagnets usually consist of wire wound into a coil. A current through the wire creates a magnetic field which is concentrated in the hole, denoting the center of the coil. The magnetic field disappears when the current is turned off. The wire turns are often wound around a magnetic core made from a ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic material such as iron; the magnetic core concentrates the magnetic flux and makes a more powerful magnet.


The use of a magnetic core can increase the strength of magnetic field in an electromagnetic coil by a factor of several hundred times what it would be without the core. However, magnetic cores have side effects which must be taken into account. In alternating current (AC) devices they cause energy losses, called core losses, due to hysteresis and eddy currents in applications such as transformers and inductors. "Soft" magnetic materials with low coercivity and hysteresis, such as silicon steel, or ferrite, are usually used in cores.

Electromagnetic coil electrical component

An electromagnetic coil is an electrical conductor such as a wire in the shape of a coil, spiral or helix. Electromagnetic coils are used in electrical engineering, in applications where electric currents interact with magnetic fields, in devices such as electric motors, generators, inductors, electromagnets, transformers, and sensor coils. Either an electric current is passed through the wire of the coil to generate a magnetic field, or conversely an external time-varying magnetic field through the interior of the coil generates an EMF (voltage) in the conductor.

Alternating current electric voltage which periodically reverses direction; form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences; form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug electric appliances into a wall socket

Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction. Alternating current is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions, fans and electric lamps into a wall socket. A common source of DC power is a battery cell in a flashlight. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.

Eddy currents are loops of electrical current induced within conductors by a changing magnetic field in the conductor according to Faraday's law of induction. Eddy currents flow in closed loops within conductors, in planes perpendicular to the magnetic field. They can be induced within nearby stationary conductors by a time-varying magnetic field created by an AC electromagnet or transformer, for example, or by relative motion between a magnet and a nearby conductor. The magnitude of the current in a given loop is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field, the area of the loop, and the rate of change of flux, and inversely proportional to the resistivity of the material. When graphed, these circular currents within a piece of metal look vaguely like eddies or whirlpools in a liquid.

Core materials

An electric current through a wire wound into a coil creates a magnetic field through the center of the coil, due to Ampere's circuital law. Coils are widely used in electronic components such as electromagnets, inductors, transformers, electric motors and generators. A coil without a magnetic core is called an "air core" coil. Adding a piece of ferromagnetic or ferrimagnetic material in the center of the coil can increase the magnetic field by hundreds or thousands of times; this is called a magnetic core. The field of the wire penetrates the core material, magnetizing it, so that the strong magnetic field of the core adds to the field created by the wire. The amount that the magnetic field is increased by the core depends on the magnetic permeability of the core material. Because side effects such as eddy currents and hysteresis can cause frequency-dependent energy losses, different core materials are used for coils used at different frequencies.

Inductor passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in its magnetic field

An inductor, also called a coil, choke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil around a core.

Transformer electrical device that transfers energy through electromagnetic induction

A transformer is a static electrical device that transfers electrical energy between two or more circuits. A varying current in one coil of the transformer produces a varying magnetic flux, which, in turn, induces a varying electromotive force across a second coil wound around the same core. Electrical energy can be transferred between the two coils, without a metallic connection between the two circuits. Faraday's law of induction discovered in 1831 described the induced voltage effect in any coil due to changing magnetic flux encircled by the coil.

Electric motor electromechanical device

An electric motor is an electrical machine that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. Most electric motors operate through the interaction between the motor's magnetic field and electric current in a wire winding to generate force in the form of rotation of a shaft. Electric motors can be powered by direct current (DC) sources, such as from batteries, motor vehicles or rectifiers, or by alternating current (AC) sources, such as a power grid, inverters or electrical generators. An electric generator is mechanically identical to an electric motor, but operates in the reverse direction, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.

In some cases the losses are undesirable and with very strong fields saturation can be a problem, and an 'air core' is used. A former may still be used; a piece of material, such as plastic or a composite, that may not have any significant magnetic permeability but which simply holds the coils of wires in place.

Solid metals

Soft iron

"Soft" (annealed) iron is used in magnetic assemblies, direct current (DC) electromagnets and in some electric motors; and it can create a concentrated field that is as much as 50,000 times more intense than an air core. [1]

Annealing, in metallurgy and materials science, is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable. It involves heating a material above its recrystallization temperature, maintaining a suitable temperature for a suitable amount of time, and then cooling.

Iron Chemical element with atomic number 26

Iron is a chemical element with symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal, that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 of the periodic table. It is by mass the most common element on Earth, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust.

Direct current Unidirectional flow of electric charge

Direct current (DC) is the unidirectional flow of an electric charge. A battery is a prime example of DC power. Direct current may flow through a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through semiconductors, insulators, or even through a vacuum as in electron or ion beams. The electric current flows in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC). A term formerly used for this type of current was galvanic current.

Iron is desirable to make magnetic cores, as it can withstand high levels of magnetic field without saturating (up to 2.16 teslas at ambient temperature. [2] [3] ) Annealed iron is used because, unlike "hard" iron, it has low coercivity and so does not remain magnetised when the field is removed, which is often important in applications where the magnetic field is required to be repeatedly switched.

Saturation (magnetic)

Seen in some magnetic materials, saturation is the state reached when an increase in applied external magnetic field H cannot increase the magnetization of the material further, so the total magnetic flux density B more or less levels off. Saturation is a characteristic of ferromagnetic and ferrimagnetic materials, such as iron, nickel, cobalt and their alloys.

The tesla is a derived unit of the magnetic induction in the International System of Units.

Coercivity measure of the ability of a ferromagnetic material to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized

In electrical engineering and materials science, the coercivity, also called the magnetic coercivity, coercive field or coercive force, is a measure of the ability of a ferromagnetic material to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized. An analogous property, electric coercivity, is the ability of a ferroelectric material to withstand an external electric field without becoming depolarized.

Due to the electrical conductivity of the metal, when a solid one-piece metal core is used in alternating current (AC) applications such as transformers and inductors, the changing magnetic field induces large eddy currents circulating within it, closed loops of electric current in planes perpendicular to the field. The current flowing through the resistance of the metal heats it by Joule heating, causing significant power losses. Therefore, solid iron cores are not used in transformers or inductors, they are replaced by laminated or powdered iron cores, or nonconductive cores like ferrite.

Joule heating, also known as Ohmic heating and resistive heating, is the process by which the passage of an electric current through a conductor produces heat.

Lamination technique of fusing layers of material

Lamination is the technique/process of manufacturing a material in multiple layers, so that the composite material achieves improved strength, stability, sound insulation, appearance or other properties from the use of differing materials. A laminate is a permanently assembled object by heat, pressure, welding, or adhesives.

Ferrite (magnet) ceramic materials, many of them magnetic

A ferrite is a ceramic material made by mixing and firing large proportions of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3, rust) blended with small proportions of one or more additional metallic elements, such as barium, manganese, nickel, and zinc. They are both electrically non-conductive, meaning that they are insulators, and ferrimagnetic, meaning they can easily be magnetized or attracted to a magnet. Ferrites can be divided into two families based on their resistance to being demagnetized (magnetic coercivity).

Laminated silicon steel

(left) Eddy currents (I, red) within a solid iron transformer core. (right) Making the core out of thin laminations parallel to the field (B, green) with insulation between them reduces the eddy currents. In this diagram the field and currents are shown in one direction, but they actually reverse direction with the alternating current in the transformer winding. Laminated core eddy currents 2.svg
(left) Eddy currents (I, red) within a solid iron transformer core. (right) Making the core out of thin laminations parallel to the field (B, green) with insulation between them reduces the eddy currents. In this diagram the field and currents are shown in one direction, but they actually reverse direction with the alternating current in the transformer winding.

In order to reduce the eddy current losses mentioned above, most low frequency power transformers and inductors use laminated cores, made of stacks of thin sheets of silicon steel:

Typical EI Lamination. EI Lam.jpg
Typical EI Lamination.

Laminated magnetic cores are made of stacks of thin iron sheets coated with an insulating layer, lying as much as possible parallel with the lines of flux. The layers of insulation serve as a barrier to eddy currents, so eddy currents can only flow in narrow loops within the thickness of each single lamination. Since the current in an eddy current loop is proportional to the area of the loop, this prevents most of the current from flowing, reducing eddy currents to a very small level. Since power dissipated is proportional to the square of the current, breaking a large core into narrow laminations reduces the power losses drastically. From this, it can be seen that the thinner the laminations, the lower the eddy current losses.

Silicon alloying

A small addition of silicon to iron (around 3%) results in a dramatic increase of the resistivity of the metal, up to four times higher.[ citation needed ] The higher resistivity reduces the eddy currents, so silicon steel is used in transformer cores. Further increase in silicon concentration impairs the steel's mechanical properties, causing difficulties for rolling due to brittleness.

Among the two types of silicon steel, grain-oriented (GO) and grain non-oriented (GNO), GO is most desirable for magnetic cores. It is anisotropic, offering better magnetic properties than GNO in one direction. As the magnetic field in inductor and transformer cores is always along the same direction, it is an advantage to use grain oriented steel in the preferred orientation. Rotating machines, where the direction of the magnetic field can change, gain no benefit from grain-oriented steel.

Special alloys

A family of specialized alloys exists for magnetic core applications. Examples are mu-metal, permalloy, and supermalloy. They can be manufactured as stampings or as long ribbons for tape wound cores. Some alloys, e.g. Sendust, are manufactured as powder and sintered to shape.

Many materials require careful heat treatment to reach their magnetic properties, and lose them when subjected to mechanical or thermal abuse. For example, the permeability of mu-metal increases about 40 times after annealing in hydrogen atmosphere in a magnetic field; subsequent sharper bends disrupt its grain alignment, leading to localized loss of permeability; this can be regained by repeating the annealing step.

Vitreous metal

Amorphous metal is a variety of alloys (e.g. Metglas) that are non-crystalline or glassy. These are being used to create high-efficiency transformers. The materials can be highly responsive to magnetic fields for low hysteresis losses, and they can also have lower conductivity to reduce eddy current losses. China is currently making widespread industrial and power grid usage of these transformers for new installations.

Powdered metals

Powder cores consist of metal grains mixed with a suitable organic or inorganic binder, and pressed to desired density. Higher density is achieved with higher pressure and lower amount of binder. Higher density cores have higher permeability, but lower resistance and therefore higher losses due to eddy currents. Finer particles allow operation at higher frequencies, as the eddy currents are mostly restricted to within the individual grains. Coating of the particles with an insulating layer, or their separation with a thin layer of a binder, lowers the eddy current losses. Presence of larger particles can degrade high-frequency performance. Permeability is influenced by the spacing between the grains, which form distributed air gap; the less gap, the higher permeability and the less-soft saturation. Due to large difference of densities, even a small amount of binder, weight-wise, can significantly increase the volume and therefore intergrain spacing.

Lower permeability materials are better suited for higher frequencies, due to balancing of core and winding losses.

The surface of the particles is often oxidized and coated with a phosphate layer, to provide them with mutual electrical insulation.


Powdered iron is the cheapest material. It has higher core loss than the more advanced alloys, but this can be compensated for by making the core bigger; it is advantageous where cost is more important than mass and size. Saturation flux of about 1 to 1.5 tesla. Relatively high hysteresis and eddy current loss, operation limited to lower frequencies (approx. below 100 kHz). Used in energy storage inductors, DC output chokes, differential mode chokes, triac regulator chokes, chokes for power factor correction, resonant inductors, and pulse and flyback transformers. [4]

The binder used is usually epoxy or other organic resin, susceptible to thermal aging. At higher temperatures, typically above 125 °C, the binder degrades and the core magnetic properties may change. With more heat-resistant binders the cores can be used up to 200 °C. [5]

Iron powder cores are most commonly available as toroids. Sometimes as E, EI, and rods or blocks, used primarily in high-power and high-current parts.

Carbonyl iron is significantly more expensive than hydrogen-reduced iron.

Carbonyl iron

Powdered cores made of carbonyl iron, a highly pure iron, have high stability of parameters across a wide range of temperatures and magnetic flux levels, with excellent Q factors between 50 kHz and 200 MHz. Carbonyl iron powders are basically constituted of micrometer-size spheres of iron coated in a thin layer of electrical insulation. This is equivalent to a microscopic laminated magnetic circuit (see silicon steel, above), hence reducing the eddy currents, particularly at very high frequencies. Carbonyl iron has lower losses than hydrogen-reduced iron, but also lower permeability.

A popular application of carbonyl iron-based magnetic cores is in high-frequency and broadband inductors and transformers, especially higher power ones.

Carbonyl iron cores are often called "RF cores".

The as-prepared particles, "E-type"and have onion-like skin, with concentric shells separated with a gap. They contain significant amount of carbon. They behave as much smaller than what their outer size would suggest. The "C-type" particles can be prepared by heating the E-type ones in hydrogen atmosphere at 400 °C for prolonged time, resulting in carbon-free powders. [6]

Hydrogen-reduced iron

Powdered cores made of hydrogen reduced iron have higher permeability but lower Q than carbonyl iron. They are used mostly for electromagnetic interference filters and low-frequency chokes, mainly in switched-mode power supplies.

Hydrogen-reduced iron cores are often called "power cores".

MPP (molypermalloy)

An alloy of about 2% molybdenum, 81% nickel, and 17% iron. Very low core loss, low hysteresis and therefore low signal distortion. Very good temperature stability. High cost. Maximum saturation flux of about 0.8 tesla. Used in high-Q filters, resonant circuits, loading coils, transformers, chokes, etc. [4]

The material was first introduced in 1940, used in loading coils to compensate capacitance in long telephone lines. It is usable up to about 200 kHz to 1 MHz, depending on vendor. [5] It is still used in above-ground telephone lines, due to its temperature stability. Underground lines, where temperature is more stable, tend to use ferrite cores due to their lower cost. [6]

High-flux (Ni-Fe)

An alloy of about 50–50% of nickel and iron. High energy storage, saturation flux density of about 1.5 tesla. Residual flux density near zero. Used in applications with high DC current bias (line noise filters, or inductors in switching regulators) or where low residual flux density is needed (e.g. pulse and flyback transformers, the high saturation is suitable for unipolar drive), especially where space is constrained. The material is usable up to about 200 kHz. [4]

Sendust, KoolMU

An alloy of 6% aluminium, 9% silicon, and 85% iron. Core losses higher than MPP. Very low magnetostriction, makes low audio noise. Loses inductance with increasing temperature, unlike the other materials; can be exploited by combining with other materials as a composite core, for temperature compensation. Saturation flux of about 1 tesla. Good temperature stability. Used in switching power supplies, pulse and flyback transformers, in-line noise filters, swing chokes, and in filters in phase-fired controllers (e.g. dimmers) where low acoustic noise is important. [4]

Absence of nickel results in easier processing of the material and its lower cost than both high-flux and MPP.

The material was invented in Japan in 1936. It is usable up to about 500 kHz to 1 MHz, depending on vendor. [5]


A nanocrystalline alloy of a standard iron-boron-silicon alloy, with addition of smaller amounts of copper and niobium. The grain size of the powder reaches down to 10-100 nanometers. The material has very good performance at lower frequencies. It is used in chokes for inverters and in high power applications. It is available under names like e.g. Nanoperm, Vitroperm, Hitperm and Finemet. [5]



Ferrite ceramics are used for high-frequency applications. The ferrite materials can be engineered with a wide range of parameters. As ceramics, they are essentially insulators, which prevents eddy currents, although losses such as hysteresis losses can still occur.


A coil not containing a magnetic core is called an air core. This includes coils wound on a plastic or ceramic form in addition to those made of stiff wire that are self-supporting and have air inside them. Air core coils generally have a much lower inductance than similarly sized ferromagnetic core coils, but are used in radio frequency circuits to prevent energy losses called core losses that occur in magnetic cores. The absence of normal core losses permits a higher Q factor, so air core coils are used in high frequency resonant circuits, such as up to a few megahertz. However, losses such as proximity effect and dielectric losses are still present. Air cores are also used when field strengths above around 2 Tesla are required as they are not subject to saturation.

Commonly used structures

Straight cylindrical rod

Ferrite rods are simple cylinders of ferrite that can be wound around. Ferrite-R-Core (7).jpg
Ferrite rods are simple cylinders of ferrite that can be wound around.

Most commonly made of ferrite or powdered iron, and used in radios especially for tuning an inductor. The coil is wound around the rod, or a coil form with the rod inside. Moving the rod in or out of the coil changes the flux through the coil, and can be used to adjust the inductance. Often the rod is threaded to allow adjustment with a screwdriver. In radio circuits, a blob of wax or resin is used once the inductor has been tuned to prevent the core from moving.

The presence of the high permeability core increases the inductance, but the magnetic field lines must still pass through the air from one end of the rod to the other. The air path ensures that the inductor remains linear. In this type of inductor radiation occurs at the end of the rod and electromagnetic interference may be a problem in some circumstances.

Single "I" core

Like a cylindrical rod but square, rarely used on its own. This type of core is most likely to be found in car ignition coils.

"C" or "U" core

U and C-shaped cores are used with I or another C or U core to make a square closed core, the simplest closed core shape. Windings may be put on one or both legs of the core.

U core.png
A U-shaped core, with sharp corners
C core.png
The C-shaped core, with rounded corners

"E" core

E-shaped core are more symmetric solutions to form a closed magnetic system. Most of the time, the electric circuit is wound around the center leg, whose section area is twice that of each individual outer leg. In 3-phase transformer cores, the legs are of equal size, and all three legs are wound.

E core.png
Classical E core
EFD core.png
The EFD' core allows for construction of inductors or transformers with a lower profile
ER core.png
The ETD core has a cylindrical central leg.
EP core.png
The EP core is halfway between a E and a pot core

"E" and "I" core

Sheets of suitable iron stamped out in shapes like the (sans-serif) letters "E" and "I", are stacked with the "I" against the open end of the "E" to form a 3-legged structure. Coils can be wound around any leg, but usually the center leg is used. This type of core is frequently used for power transformers, autotransformers, and inductors.

ER core assembly.png
Construction of an inductor using two ER cores, a plastic bobbin and two clips. The bobbin has pins to be soldered to a printed circuit board.
ER core assembly exploded.png
Exploded view of the previous figure showing the structure

Pair of "E" cores

Again used for iron cores. Similar to using an "E" and "I" together, a pair of "E" cores will accommodate a larger coil former and can produce a larger inductor or transformer. If an air gap is required, the centre leg of the "E" is shortened so that the air gap sits in the middle of the coil to minimize fringing and reduce electromagnetic interference.

Planar core

A planar core consists of two flat pieces of magnetic material, one above and one below the coil. It is typically used with a flat coil that is part of a printed circuit board. This design is excellent for mass production and allows a high power, small volume transformer to be constructed for low cost. It is not as ideal as either a pot core or toroidal core[ citation needed ] but costs less to produce.

A planar 'E' core
Planar core assembly.png
A planar inductor
Planar core assembly exploded.png
Exploded view that shows the spiral track made directly on the printed circuit board

Pot core

Usually ferrite or similar. This is used for inductors and transformers. The shape of a pot core is round with an internal hollow that almost completely encloses the coil. Usually a pot core is made in two halves which fit together around a coil former (bobbin). This design of core has a shielding effect, preventing radiation and reducing electromagnetic interference.

RM core.png
A pot core of 'RM' type
A Regular Pot Core

Toroidal core

This design is based on a toroid (the same shape as a doughnut). The coil is wound through the hole in the torus and around the outside. An ideal coil is distributed evenly all around the circumference of the torus. The symmetry of this geometry creates a magnetic field of circular loops inside the core, and the lack of sharp bends will constrain virtually all of the field to the core material. This not only makes a highly efficient transformer, but also reduces the electromagnetic interference radiated by the coil.

A toroidal core Toroid core.png
A toroidal core

It is popular for applications where the desirable features are: high specific power per mass and volume, low mains hum, and minimal electromagnetic interference. One such application is the power supply for a hi-fi audio amplifier. The main drawback that limits their use for general purpose applications is the inherent difficulty of winding wire through the center of a torus.

Unlike a split core (a core made of two elements, like a pair of E cores), specialized machinery is required for automated winding of a toroidal core. Toroids have less audible noise, such as mains hum, because the magnetic forces do not exert bending moment on the core. The core is only in compression or tension, and the circular shape is more stable mechanically.

Ring or bead

On the left, a non-adjustable ferrite rod with connection wires glued to the ends. On the right, a molded ferrite rod with holes, with a single wire threaded through the holes. Two ferrite beads.jpg
On the left, a non-adjustable ferrite rod with connection wires glued to the ends. On the right, a molded ferrite rod with holes, with a single wire threaded through the holes.
A ferrite ring on a computer data cable. Ferrite bead no shell.jpg
A ferrite ring on a computer data cable.

The ring is essentially identical in shape and performance to the toroid, except that inductors commonly pass only through the center of the core, without wrapping around the core multiple times.

The ring core may also be composed of two separate C-shaped hemispheres secured together within a plastic shell, permitting it to be placed on finished cables with large connectors already installed, that would prevent threading the cable through the small inner diameter of a solid ring.

AL value

The AL value of a core configuration is frequently specified by manufacturers. The relationship between inductance and AL number in the linear portion of the magnetisation curve is defined to be:

where n is the number of turns, L is the inductance (e.g. in nH) and AL is expressed in inductance per turn squared (e.g. in nH/n2). [7]

Core loss

When the core is subjected to a changing magnetic field, as it is in devices that use AC current such as transformers, inductors, and AC motors and alternators, some of the power that would ideally be transferred through the device is lost in the core, dissipated as heat and sometimes noise. Core loss is commonly termed iron loss in contradistinction to copper loss, the loss in the windings. [8] [9] Iron losses are often described as being in three categories:

Hysteresis losses

When the magnetic field through the core changes, the magnetization of the core material changes by expansion and contraction of the tiny magnetic domains it is composed of, due to movement of the domain walls. This process causes losses, because the domain walls get "snagged" on defects in the crystal structure and then "snap" past them, dissipating energy as heat. This is called hysteresis loss. It can be seen in the graph of the B field versus the H field for the material, which has the form of a closed loop. The net energy that flows into the inductor expressed in relationship to the B-H characteristic of the core is shown by the equation [10]

This equation shows that the amount of energy lost in the material in one cycle of the applied field is proportional to the area inside the hysteresis loop. Since the energy lost in each cycle is constant, hysteresis power losses increase proportionally with frequency. [11] The final equation for the hysteresis power loss is [12]

Eddy-current losses

If the core is electrically conductive, the changing magnetic field induces circulating loops of current in it, called eddy currents, due to electromagnetic induction. [13] The loops flow perpendicular to the magnetic field axis. The energy of the currents is dissipated as heat in the resistance of the core material. The power loss is proportional to the area of the loops and inversely proportional to the resistivity of the core material. Eddy current losses can be reduced by making the core out of thin laminations which have an insulating coating, or alternatively, making the core of a magnetic material with high electrical resistance, like ferrite. [14] . Most magnetic cores intended for power converter application use ferrite cores for this reason.

Anomalous losses

By definition, this category includes any losses in addition to eddy-current and hysteresis losses. This can also be described as broadening of the hysteresis loop with frequency. Physical mechanisms for anomalous loss include localized eddy-current effects near moving domain walls.

Legg's equation

An equation known as Legg's equation models the magnetic material core loss at low flux densities. The equation has three loss components: hysteresis, residual, and eddy current, [15] [16] [17] and it is given by


Steinmetz coefficients

Losses in magnetic materials can be characterized by the Steinmetz coefficients, which however do not take into account temperature variability. Material manufacturers provide data on core losses in tabular and graphical form for practical conditions of use.

See also

Related Research Articles


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Ferrite bead passive electric component that suppresses high frequency noise in electronic circuits. It is a specific type of electronic choke

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Electrical steel

Electrical steel is an iron alloy tailored to produce specific magnetic properties: small hysteresis area resulting in low power loss per cycle, low core loss, and high permeability.

An inductive sensor is a device that uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to detect or measure objects. An inductor develops a magnetic field when a current flows through it; alternatively, a current will flow through a circuit containing an inductor when the magnetic field through it changes. This effect can be used to detect metallic objects that interact with a magnetic field. Non-metallic substances such as liquids or some kinds of dirt do not interact with the magnetic field, so an inductive sensor can operate in wet or dirty conditions.

In electronics, a ferrite core is a type of magnetic core made of ferrite on which the windings of electric transformers and other wound components such as inductors are formed. It is used for its properties of high magnetic permeability coupled with low electrical conductivity. Because of their comparatively low losses at high frequencies, they are extensively used in the cores of RF transformers and inductors in applications such as switched-mode power supplies, and ferrite loopstick antennas for AM radio receivers.

Transformer types

A variety of types of electrical transformer are made for different purposes. Despite their design differences, the various types employ the same basic principle as discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, and share several key functional parts.

Toroidal inductors and transformers

Toroidal inductors and transformers are inductors and transformers which use magnetic cores with a toroidal shape. They are passive electronic components, consisting of a circular ring or donut shaped magnetic core of ferromagnetic material such as laminated iron, iron powder, or ferrite, around which wire is wound.

The article Ferromagnetic material properties is intended to contain a glossary of terms used to describe ferromagnetic materials, and magnetic cores.

A Molypermalloy Powder (MPP) core is a toroidal magnetic core comprised from the powder of multiple alloys. It is distributed with air gaps to help condense its magnetic field to minimize core losses. Its composition is made from approximately 79% nickel, 17% iron, and 4% molybdenum.


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