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Definition

solenoid

Also see toroid.

A solenoid is a coil of insulated or enameled wire wound on a rod-shaped form made of solid iron, solid steel, or powdered iron. Devices of this kind can be used as electromagnets, as inductors in electronic circuits, and as miniature wireless receiving antennas.

In a solenoid, the core material is ferromagnetic, meaning that it concentrates magnetic lines of flux. This increases the inductance of the coil far beyond the inductance obtainable with an air-core coil of the same dimensions and the same number of turns. When current flows in the coil, most of the resulting magnetic flux exists within the core material. Some flux appears outside the coil near the ends of the core; a small amount of flux also appears outside the coil and off to the side.

A solenoid chime is wound on a cylindrical, hollow, plastic or phenolic form with a movable, solid iron or steel core. The core can travel in and out of the coil along its axis. The coil is oriented vertically; the core normally rests somewhat below the coil center. When a current pulse is applied to the coil, the magnetic field pulls the core forcefully upward. Inertia carries the core above the center of the coil, where the core strikes a piece of metal similar to a xylophone bell, causing a loud "ding".

This was last updated in April 2005
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