19. Biot-Savart Law

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Learning Objectives

  • To be able to calculate the magnetic field produced by a wire using the Biot-Savart Law.
  • To be able to describe the magnetic fields due to simple current configurations: the field of a long wire, or the field of a circular loop of current.


Course Notes

Read through the course notes before watching the video.  The course note files may also contain links to associated animations or interactive simulations. 

Read sections 9.1 through 9.2:
Sources of Magnetic Fields (PDF - 1.9MB)

Lecture Video

Video Excerpts

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Learning Activities

Guided Activities

Read through the class slides. They explain all of the concepts from the module.

Slides (PDF)


Do the Concept Questions first to make sure you understand the main concepts from this module. Then, when you are ready, try the Challenge Problems.

Concept Questions

Concept Questions (PDF)

Solutions (PDF)

Challenge Problems

Challenge Problems (PDF)

Solutions (PDF)

Problem Solving Help

Watch the Problem Solving Help videos for insights on how to approach and solve problems related to the concepts in this module.

Problem 1: Magnetic Field in the Center of a Rectangular Wire Loop

A rectangular wire loop of width a and height b carries a current I. Using the Biot-Savart Law, find the magnetic field in the center of the loop.

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» iTunes U (MP4 - 21MB)
» Internet Archive (MP4 - 21MB)


Problem 2: The Field of Two Semi-circles from Biot-Savart

A current loop with current I is made up of two semi-circles of radii a and b. The semi-circles have the same center. The circuit is completed by radial segments of wire between the ends of the semi-circles. What is the magnetic field at the center of the semi-circles?

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Download this video:
» iTunes U (MP4 - 11MB)
» Internet Archive (MP4 - 11MB)


Related Visualizations

The visualizations linked below are related to the concepts covered in this module.


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