6.641 | Spring 2009 | Graduate

Electromagnetic Fields, Forces, and Motion


Course Introduction by Prof. Markus Zahn

Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 2 hours / session


This course examines electric and magnetic quasistatic forms of Maxwell’s equations applied to dielectric, conduction, and magnetization boundary value problems. Topics covered include: electromagnetic forces, force densities, and stress tensors, including magnetization and polarization; thermodynamics of electromagnetic fields, equations of motion, and energy conservation; applications to synchronous, induction, and commutator machines; sensors and transducers; microelectromechanical systems; propagation and stability of electromechanical waves; and charge transport phenomena.


The prerequisite for this course is 6.013 Electromagnetics and Applications.


Most of the course material will be contained in the lecture notes. The first two texts are required. The third text is not required but may be useful as a supplementary text. Links for the three textbooks may be found in the textbooks section.


Zahn, Markus. Electromagnetic Field Theory: A Problem Solving Approach. Malabar, FL: Krieger Pub. Co., 2003. ISBN: 9781575242354.

Woodson, H. H., and J. R. Melcher. “Part I (Discrete Systems), and Part II (Fields, Forces, and Motion).” In Electromechanical Dynamics. Malabar, FL: Krieger Pub. Co., 1985. ISBN: 9780894644597 (Part I) and 9780898748475 (Part II).


Haus, Hermann A., and James R. Melcher. Electromagnetic Fields and Energy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1989. ISBN: 9780132490207.

Homework Assignments

Students will generally have 9 days to complete each problem set. No late problem sets will be accepted. For extenuating circumstances contact Prof. Zahn. The homework is an extremely important part of the subject. Students are allowed to work together on homework assignments but each person must do his or her own thinking and prepare his or her own homework. Quiz and final exam problems will be analogous to homework problems.


There will be a two-hour midterm and a three-hour final examination. A formula sheet that each student prepares will be allowed on the two exams. A standard 6.641 formula sheet will also be supplied.


The course will have many physical demonstrations that are shown in lectures. For further study, many of the demonstrations are available in Supplemental Resources.


Homework and class participation 20%
Midterm 40%
Final exam 40%

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets with Solutions
Exams with Solutions
Lecture Notes
Online Textbook
Course Introduction