An inductor or a reactor is a passive electrical component that can store energy in a magnetic field created by the electric current passing through it. An inductor's ability to store magnetic energy is measured by its inductance, in units of henries. Typically an inductor is a conducting wire shaped as a coil, the loops helping to create a strong magnetic field inside the coil due to Faraday's Law of Induction. Inductors are one of the basic electronic components used in electronics where current and voltage change with time, due to the ability of inductors to delay and reshape alternating currents.
Inductance (L) (measured in henries) is an effect resulting from the magnetic field that forms around a current-carrying conductor which tends to resist changes in the current. Electric current through the conductor creates a magnetic flux proportional to the current, and a change in this current creates a corresponding change in magnetic flux which, in turn, by Faraday's Law generates an electromotive force (EMF) that opposes this change in current. Inductance is a measure of the amount of EMF generated per unit change in current. For example, an inductor with an inductance of 1 henry produces an EMF of 1 volt when the current through the inductor changes at the rate of 1 ampere per second. The number of loops, the size of each loop, and the material it is wrapped around all affect the inductance. For example, the magnetic flux linking these turns can be increased by coiling the conductor around a material with a high permeability such as iron. This can increase the inductance by 2000 times, although less so at high frequencies.
Inductors are used extensively in analog circuits and signal processing. Inductors in conjunction with capacitors and other components form tuned circuits which can emphasize or filter out specific signal frequencies. Applications range from the use of large inductors in power supplies, which in conjunction with filter capacitors remove residual hums known as the Mains hum or other fluctuations from the direct current output, to the small inductance of the ferrite bead or torus installed around a cable to prevent radio frequency interference from being transmitted down the wire. Smaller inductor/capacitor combinations provide tuned circuits used in radio reception and broadcasting, for instance.
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