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Solenoids are complex coils of wire that are used for the transfer of electricity into mechanical energy, or even for creating a uniform magnetic field. These coils have been around for years, used in a variety of applications, but in recent years, more research has been done on solenoids, expanding their use even further. Very simple in construction, these coils offer physicists and engineers the ability to create magnetism and turn electrical impulses into mechanical, or linear energy. While most might not know much about these special coils, they are in use in a variety of everyday mechanisms and have the potential for use in many more types of mechanical systems.
Solenoids are electrical current carrying coils of wire in the form of a cylinder that typically surround an iron core that has the ability to move within the coil. The iron core is what helps to convert electricity generated into mechanical energy for movement. The coils tend to be in the shape of a helix, cylindrical in nature. For physicists, a solenoid can be used as a means to generate an artificial electromagnetic field. When constructed slightly differently, the solenoid can help turn electricity into actual mechanical energy for motion. There are tons of everyday uses for solenoids. Most of us make use of these on a daily basis without ever knowing they are at work or even present.
This type of solenoid is often used by physicists. These wires can be unidirectional or bidirectional. This type of solenoid tends to be used when the size of the device and the even distribution of energy across the coil for uniformity is important. This type of solenoid boasts more torque and tends to be more complex than linear solenoids, but also have a longer life, able to handle more uses than a linear solenoid can handle. These are used in basic and complex mechanisms. An example of a rotary solenoid and its use is in the opening and closing of things like lasers or telescope covers.
Linear solenoids are generally used when basic mechanical motion or transfer of energy is needed. These tend to be what are called 'push or pull' type coils. As with rotary solenoids, linear solenoids can be either unidirectional or bidirectional. These types of coils tend to be less expensive than their rotary counterparts. They are generally less complex and powerful in structure and also do not have the life span that a rotary solenoid has. A popular example of a linear solenoid is the starter in a vehicle. It contains a solenoid that turns electrical energy into energy that actually turns the motor over.
Complex coils of wire around a metallic center, solenoids are used for a variety of different energy production or conversion tasks. These coils are what are responsible for the starter in our car getting the charge it needs. Solenoids, though not well known by the general public, are a part of many of the things we use on a day to day basis. Whether rotary or linear, solenoids allow physicists and engineers to further the advancement of technology and our understanding of the world around us.