A diagram of Faraday's iron ring apparatus. The changing magnetic flux of the left coil induces a current in the right coil.
Electromagnetic induction was discovered independently by Michael Faraday in 1831 and Joseph Henry in 1832. Faraday was the first to publish the results of his experiments. In Faraday's first experimental demonstration of electromagnetic induction (August 29, 1831), he wrapped two wires around opposite sides of an iron ring (torus) (an arrangement similar to a modern toroidal transformer). Based on his assessment of recently discovered properties of electromagnets, he expected that when current started to flow in one wire, a sort of wave would travel through the ring and cause some electrical effect on the opposite side. He plugged one wire into a galvanometer, and watched it as he connected the other wire to a battery. Indeed, he saw a transient current (which he called a "wave of electricity") when he connected the wire to the battery, and another when he disconnected it. This induction was due to the change in magnetic flux that occurred when the battery was connected and disconnected. Within two months, Faraday had found several other manifestations of electromagnetic induction. For example, he saw transient currents when he quickly slid a bar magnet in and out of a coil of wires, and he generated a steady (DC) current by rotating a copper disk near the bar magnet with a sliding electrical lead ("Faraday's disk").
Michael Faraday explained electromagnetic induction using a concept he called lines of force. However, scientists at the time widely rejected his theoretical ideas, mainly because they were not formulated mathematically. An exception was James Clerk Maxwell, who in 1861-2 used Faraday's ideas as the basis of his quantitative electromagnetic theory. In Maxwell's papers, the time-varying aspect of electromagnetic induction is expressed as a differential equation which Oliver Heaviside referred to as Faraday's law even though it is different from the original version of Faraday's law, and does not describe motional EMF. Heaviside's version (see Maxwell–Faraday equation below) is the form recognized today in the group of equations known as Maxwell's equations.
Lenz's law, formulated by Emil Lenz in 1834, describes "flux through the circuit", and gives the direction of the induced EMF and current resulting from electromagnetic induction (elaborated upon in the examples below).
Faraday's experiment showing induction between coils of wire: The liquid battery (right)
provides a current which flows through the small coil (A)
, creating a magnetic field. When the coils are stationary, no current is induced. But when the small coil is moved in or out of the large coil (B)
, the magnetic flux through the large coil changes, inducing a current which is detected by the galvanometer (G)