Skip to main content

The National MagLab is funded by the National Science Foundation and the State of Florida.

Faraday Motor

Just a year after electromagnetism was discovered, the great scientist Michael Faraday figured out how to turn it into motion.

In 1821, Faraday created an electromagnetic rotary device that gave the basis for electric motor technology. Though a primitive device that served no practical purpose, it was a great leap for humankind and led to the much more sophisticated motors of today.

Take a look at Faraday’s invention:


  1. Trace out the interesting setup: The circuit consists of a battery, standard wiring, a metal rod connected to a stiff wire that is suspended into a very conductive mercury pool.
  2. Notice the permanent magnet mounted in the middle of the mercury pool.
  3. Press “on” to close the switch and complete the circuit.
  4. The flow of electricity creates a magnetic field around the stiff wire.
  5. The magnetic field of the wire and the magnetic field of the permanent magnet interact to make the wire circle the magnet.
  6. Click the “field lines” button to see the magnetic fields created around the wire and the permanent magnet