Unlike a standard magnet, which possesses a constant magnetic field, electromagnets only possess a magnetic field when electrical current passes through them. The strength of an electromagnet's magnetic field can be changed depending on the amount of electrical current that is supplied to the magnet. Electromagnets can be structured in a variety of ways, but the most common electromagnets are merely coils of wire supplied with electrical current. Electromagnets can be found in everything from household items to high-tech scientific equipment.
Without electromagnets, many computer monitors would be unable to give off light or create a picture. Computer monitors use beams of electrons moving at high speeds to create images on the screen. Electromagnets divert the electron beams to create images.
A stepper motor is a type of electric motor that is used to power household appliances, generators and some hand-held tools. These motors function by depending on electromagnets to generate a strong magnetic field around smaller magnets. This causes the smaller magnets located on a nearby rotor, to turn. The faster the smaller magnets turn, the faster the stepper motor runs--allowing you to perform household tasks such as blending a milkshake or using a drill.
Electromagnets are responsible for almost every part of the toasting process. Toasters use electromagnets to provide heat to toast the bread and to signal the toaster when to turn off the heat and release the coils holding the bread in place. This causes the bread to pop up.
Particle accelerators are used by scientists to break down small particles to study them more efficiently. Often referred to as "atom smashers," particle accelerators are an important part of many forms of scientific research. These machines function by using extremely powerful electromagnets to generate intense magnetic fields that initiate the particle acceleration process.
Magnetic Door Locks
Many facilities, such as hospitals, use magnetic door locks to block off areas that are not accessible to the public. These locks function by connecting an electromagnet to the door frame and a metal plate to the exterior of the electromagnet on the other side of the door frame. When the electromagnet is activated, the door is held firmly in place. When the current to the electromagnet is disrupted, the door can be easily opened. This is much faster than using a key to open and relock a door and also serves to keep private areas secure.