Michael Faraday's electric magnetic rotation apparatus (motor)

The first surviving Faraday apparatus, dating from 1822, demonstrates his work in magnetic rotation. Faraday used this mercury bath to transform electrical energy into mechanical energy, creating the first electric motor.

Electric magnetic rotation apparatus
Credit: Paul Wilkinson

Date: 1831

Place made: Basement Laboratory of the Ri

Alternative name: Electromagnetic induction coil

Materials: Iron, wood, copper, fabric

Measurements: H: 285mm, W: 270mm, D: 154mm


This apparatus, consisting of a coil of insulated wire held between the poles of a magnet, was made by Michael Faraday during his research into electricity. We know how and why it was made as Faraday recorded everything he did in the laboratory in his scientific notebooks. 

This research is what Faraday is best known for today but it actually wasn't part of his official duties at the Royal Institution so he wasn't able to work on it every day. His research was carried out alongside running the Ri, giving lectures, advising and taking on scientific research projects for individuals and other institutions. Faraday had invented the induction ring, the first transformer, at the end of July, and continued to work with similar materials and apparatus to investigate electricity and magnetism. On the 12th September he created coils of various materials and sizes and labelled them carefully A-L but it wasn't until almost two weeks later, on 24th September, that he began to experiment with them, setting the various coils between the magnetic poles and connecting them to a power source. 

A week later he created a spark 'very distinct though small' at the end of the wires. 


Where can I view this?

This object is currently on display in Faraday's original magnetic laboratory on the lower ground floor of the Royal Institution.