# In electric motors, how does a rectangular loop work?

An electric motor is a rotating device that converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.

An electric motor consists of a rectangular coil ABCD of insulated copper wire. The coil is placed between the two poles of a magnetic field such that the arm AB and CD are perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field. The ends of the coil are connected to the two halves P and Q of a split ring. The inner sides of these halves are insulated and attached to an axle. The external conducting edges of P and Q touch two conducting stationary brushes X and Y, respectively, as shown in the figure.

Current in the coil ABCD enters from the source battery through conducting brush X and flows back to the battery through brush Y. Now the current in arm AB of the coil flows from A to B. In arm CD, it flows from C to D, that is, opposite to the direction of current through arm AB.

On applying Fleming’s left-hand rule for the direction of the force on a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field as shown in the figure :

The force acting on arm AB pushes it downwards while the force acting on arm CD pushes it upwards. Thus the coil and the axle O mounted free to turn about an axis, rotate anti-clockwise.

At half rotation, Q makes contact with the brush X and P with brush Y. Therefore, the current in the coil gets reversed and flows along the path DCBA. A device that reverses the direction of flow of current through a circuit is called a commutator. In electric motors, the split ring acts as a commutator.

The reversal of current also reverses the direction of the force acting on the two arms AB and CD. Thus the arm AB of the coil that was earlier pushed down is now pushed up and the arm CD previously pushed up is now pushed down.

Therefore, the coil and the axle rotate half a turn more in the same direction. The reversing of the current is repeated at each half rotation, giving rise to a continuous rotation of the coil and to the axle.

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