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Physics Experiment # 18: The Magnetic Field of a Solenoid

The purpose of this experiment is to see how the strength of magnetic field produced by a
solenoid depends upon the current flowing through the solenoid and the number of coils in the
solenoid. A gauss/tesla meter will be used to measure the strength of the magnetic field just at
the edge of the solenoid. G/T

The theoretical relationship describing the magnetic field strength of a solenoid is B = µoI(N/L)
where B is magnetic field strength, I is the current, N/L is the number of coils per unit length,
and µo is a constant equal to 1.26 X 10-6 Tesla*meters/Ampere
There are a couple of things to know about using the Gauss/Tesla meters. First of all, the
meters will not read zero initially because of the magnetic field of the earth itself. You can
account for this either by registering the initial magnetic field of the earth and subtracting that
value from all of your subsequent measurements or you can use the zeroing function on the
meter, which is analogous to “taring” a scale. Because the earth’s magnetic field is not the same
in all directions, it is important that you make all of your measurements with the equipment in
the same location and with the same orientation so that the magnitude of the earth’s magnetic
field in the direction you are measuring doesn’t vary over the course of your experiment.
Thirdly, since you will be pooling data with your classmates, each group needs to try to measure
the magnetic field in the same way. Your teacher will show you how to orient the meter probe in
order to do this. The solenoid’s field is essentially constant inside the solenoid but quickly drops
near the edge of the solenoid.
Each group in this experiment will connect their solenoid to a variable DC power supply
along with an ammeter in series. By adjusting the potential difference of the power supply, you
will vary the current and measure the resulting magnetic field on the Gauss/Tesla meter. Be sure
that one of your current values is 1.00 Amperes.

Groups will receive solenoids with 200, 400, 800, and 1600 coils. Each group will write
their value for the solenoid field strength on the board along with the number of coils so that the
relationship between field strength and turn number can be examined.

• A graph of magnetic field strength vs. current along with a best-fit line or curve
• A graph of magnetic field strength vs. number of turns along with a best-fit line
or curve
• A conclusion in which you discuss your results