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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 39, NO.

2, MARCH 2003 961

General Relation for the Vector Magnetic Field of a


Circular Current Loop: A Closer Look
Robert A. Schill, Jr., Senior Member, IEEE

AbstractThis paper presents a general theory for the fields gular cross section, and polygon cross section of constant ax-
generated by a circular current loop and compares it with existing imuthal current. These expressions are written in terms of the
theories. The existing, general, closed solution for the vector mag-
Jacobian elliptic and elliptic integrals. Computational accuracy,
netic field may be expressed in a number of seemingly different
but equivalent forms. These relations offer alternative closed-form stability, and speed are obtained as compared to typical numer-
solutions that may find various applications, including the charac- ical techniques used to find fields from complex geometries.
terization of Helmholtz coils. The paper provides alternative closed The filament study [24] is shown to agree with classic expres-
forms in both spherical and cylindrical coordinate systems. It em- sions [21][23]. Alternative forms of the classic expressions
ploys Gausss magnetic law to show that the alternative closed form
is self-consistent and correct and also shows agreement with well- were not uncovered using their approach. With the aid of the
known solutions. Finally, it develops a new (or not readily found) modified Laden transformation and the Bartky transformation,
tabulated mathematical identity. the range of the complete and the incomplete elliptic functions
Index TermsBioelectromagnetics, Helmholtz coil, low-fre- has been extended [29], [30]. These extended elliptic integrals
quency time-varying magnetic fields, magnetostatics, measure- reduce redundant computations as compared to the conventional
ments and instruments.
methods. These efforts have not shown, under special condi-
tions, that the complete elliptic functions of the second and third
I. INTRODUCTION kind are related. Such a result is shown in this work.
The expressions for the magnetic vector potential in both a
T HE HELMHOLTZ coil has found many applications from
the time of its inception to the present. Currently, the coil
finds applications in bioelectromagnetic experiments [1][3], in
spherical coordinate system [14] and a cylindrical coordinate
system [21][23] are well established. Using the vector poten-
tial, alternative vector magnetic field expressions in both coordi-
diagnostic studies on electron beams [4], in the calibration of
nate systems are obtained. Agreement between these relations is
magnetic instruments [5], [6], and in the study of magnetic prop-
shown. The point form of Gausss magnetic law is applied estab-
erties of materials [7], [8]. Some early and present theories have
lishing self-consistency in the new closed-form relation. Lim-
exploited on axis [9][12], various series expansion [13][16],
iting expressions are obtained from the vector magnetic field in
and/or approximation [4], [5], [7], [17], [18] techniques to ex-
closed form. These agree with commonly accepted theories. A
amine the magnetic fields generated by current loops. These
new integral form appears to have been uncovered. Applying
are typically used as guides in the design of optimal Helmholtz
the integral form, the alternative field expressions are shown to
coils where the field is nearly uniform over a specified volume.
agree with well-known existing closed-form theories. The al-
More sophisticated studies have [6] or appear to have [19], [20]
ternative expressions developed here have been applied in the
employed closed-form expressions [21][23] for the magnetic
design and calibration of a large Helmholtz coil with a spatially
fields generated by closed current loops. Decisions regarding
varying current [31].
magnetic measurement standards may be dependent on the ac-
This paper is organized in the following fashion. The general
curacy of the closed-form expressions employed [6].
closed-form expression for the vector magnetic field is indepen-
A variety of sources have partial [14], [23] or complete
dently obtained in a cylindrical coordinate system in Section II
derivations [21], [22] of the closed form of the magnetic vector
and in a spherical coordinate system in Section III. Agreement
potential and the vector magnetic field generated by a circular
between the relations is shown in Section III. Gausss magnetic
current loop. The validity of these works are based on how
law is used to show self-consistency among results in Section IV.
these expressions simplify as one approaches the loop axis
In Section V, the closed-form expression for the vector magnetic
[21], [22]. In this effort, existing field expressions are shown
field yields the on-axis solution when evaluated near the loop
to be self-consistent.
axis. A brief discussion with concluding remarks is provided in
A series of papers [24][28] derive analytical expressions for
Section VI.
the components of the vector potential and the magnetic field
generated by a finite arc segment of a filament, sheet, rectan-
II. FIELDS FROM A CIRCULAR CURRENT LOOP IN A
CYLINDRICAL COORDINATE SYSTEM
Manuscript received October 17, 2001; revised October 23, 2002.
The author is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, A circular current loop of radius with loop axis along the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4026 USA (e-mail: schill@
ee.unlv.edu). axis lies in the plane in a cylindrical coordinate system
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TMAG.2003.808597 ( , , ). The current is oriented to flow in the direction.
0018-9464/03$17.00 2003 IEEE
962 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 39, NO. 2, MARCH 2003

The general magnetic vector potential characterizing the field is The axial or component of the magnetic field may be shown
[21][23] to yield the intermediate expression

(1)

where
(9)
(2)
where
and are, respectively, the complete elliptic integral
functions of the first and the second kind, and is the perme- (10)
ability of free space. The vector magnetic flux density is related
to the curl of the magnetic vector potential as Using (2), (6a), (6b), and (10), the component of the magnetic
field simplifies to

(3)
Treating the radial component of the field yields upon substitu-
tion (11)

Appendix B contains the field solution commonly found in


literature. Equations (B1) and (B2) do not appear to have the
(4) same form as (8a) [or (8b)] and (11), respectively. With the aid of
(2), the coefficient external to the brackets containing the elliptic
where functions of (B1) and (8a) [or (8b)] and of (B2) and (11) are
identical.
(5)
III. FIELDS FROM A CIRCULAR CURRENT LOOP IN A
From Appendix A SPHERICAL COORDINATE SYSTEM
The closed-form solution for the vector magnetic field due to
(6a) a circular current loop in a spherical coordinate system is not
readily available. In this coordinate system, the field solution
(6b) is commonly expressed in terms of a spherical harmonic series.
The motivation for this form of solution is to examine the multi-
Here, is the complete elliptic integral function of pole nature of the problem. By minimizing or eliminating lower
the third kind commonly written as order multipole terms in the series solution over a region of in-
terest, an optimal uniform field may be obtained. Such methods
have been applied to improve the uniformity of the magnetic
(7)
fields generated by single and double Helmholtz coils [15]. In
this section, a closed-form solution for the vector magnetic field
Upon substituting (5)(7) in (4) and simplifying using (2), the is determined from the magnetic vector potential written in a
radial component of the magnetic field becomes spherical coordinate system ( , , ) for a current loop located
in the plane. Excluding the location of the plane of the
loop with respect to the origin, the field expressions in this sec-
tion are compared to those obtained in the circular cylindrical
(8a) coordinate system.
The magnetic vector potential as written in a spherical coor-
or equivalently dinate system is [14]

(8b) (12)
SCHILL: GENERAL RELATION FOR THE VECTOR MAGNETIC FIELD 963

where and using the transformations (18a)(18e), the field solutions in


the cylindrical coordinate system (8a) [or (8b)] and (11) can be
(13) recovered.

The vector magnetic flux density is related to the magnetic IV. SELF CONSISTENCY
vector potential as To demonstrate that the field solutions obtained are self-con-
sistent, Gausss magnetic law

(14) (20)
Upon substituting (12) into (14) and using the following rela-
tions, (15a) and (15b) must be verified. Consider the fields in a cylindrical coordinate
system. Consequently
(15a)
(21)
(15b)
Although the algebra is cumbersome, the procedure to verify
along with (6a) and (6b), the radial and the conical magnetic Gausss magnetic law is straightforward. An intermediate step is
field components, respectively, are provided for the readers convenience. Performing the operation
on the right- and left-hand side of (21) yields, with the aid of (2),
(5), (6a), and (10)

(16)

(17)

It is interesting to note that the radial magnetic field amplitude in


a spherical coordinate system is in terms of the complete elliptic (22a)
functions of the second kind and third kind. The radial field in
a cylindrical coordinate system is in terms of the complete el-
liptic functions of the first kind and third kind. A more complete
derivation of (16) and (17) is provided in Appendix C.
To transform the field components into a cylindrical coordi-
nate system, the following transformations are required:

(18a)
(18b)
(18c)
(18d)
(18e)
(22b)
(19a)
It is observed that the last term in each expression is identical.
(19b) To complete the verification, identical coefficients of the com-
plete elliptic integrals and the derivative of the complete elliptic
Employing (18a) and (18c) in (13), (2) and (13) are equiva- integrals in each of the two expressions, (22a) and (22b), can be
lent. Substituting (16) and (17) appropriately in (19a) and (19b) shown to be equivalent.
964 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 39, NO. 2, MARCH 2003

Now, consider the existing expressions (B1) and (B2). Care- From the Biot Savart Law and symmetry, the vector magnetic
fully following the derivation leading to these results, the tabu- field on loop axis is
lated formula [32]
(27)
(23)
Equations (8a) and (11) are to be evaluated in the limit as ap-
is used in place of (6b). For consistency in proof, (23) will be proaches zero. Appendix A contains the derivation of the com-
used in lieu of (6b). As above, the procedure to verify Gausss plete elliptic integral functions expanded about small . The re-
magnetic law is straightforward but algebra rich. Substituting sults are
(B1) and (B2) appropriately into (21) after it has been divided
through by yields with the aid of (2), (5), (6a), (10), and (23) (28a)

(28b)

(28c)

Retaining terms to order in the elliptic integral expansions


(28a) and (28c) and substituting into (8a) [or (8b)], the radial
(24) component of the magnetic field vanishes identically without
further expansions. The elliptic functions in (11) are appropri-
ately replaced by (28a)(28c). Only the term of order in (28a)
It is observed that both (6b) and (23), employed indepen- and terms to order are (28b) and (28c) are required in the ex-
dent of each other, yield solutions for the magnetic field for the pansions. Dropping terms on the order of and higher, the
loop of current that is self-consistent satisfying Gausss mag- component of the magnetic field simplifies to
netic law. By comparing these expressions, it is concluded that

(25)

Substituting (25) into (8) and (11), one can recover (B1) and
(B2) with the aid of (2).
(29)
Equation (25) offers a third alternate form for writing the
component of the magnetic field. By direct substitution in either
(B2) or (11), it can be shown that Upon binomial expanding the terms , , and
for small, (29) simplifies to (27) as expected.
Consider the closed-form expression for the radial magnetic
field (B2) developed by others [21][23] written in the nota-
tion consistent with this work. For simplicity, the current loop
(26) is chosen to lie in the plane and, therefore, . With
, the denominator of the coefficient of the elliptic func-
The main difference between (26) and (B2) lies in the singu- tion of second kind is expanded about small to yield
larity that arises with the second term in brackets associated
with or . As approaches one ( approaches and ap-
proaches ), the elliptic function of second kind is well behaved (30)
but the coefficient associated with this term in (B1) is singular. Retaining the first two terms in the expansions of (28a) and
As shown in (25), the elliptic function of third kind is singular (28b) and allowing to approach zero, (30) vanishes as ex-
because of the coefficient of the elliptic function of second kind. pected. The expansion of the coefficients of the elliptic func-
The coefficient associated with the elliptic function of third kind tions is necessary in showing the on axis limit of (B2), but was
in (26) is well behaved in the limit. not required in (8a).

V. ON-AXIS LIMITING SOLUTION VI. CONCLUSION


In this section, the on-axis solution is examined based on bi- It has been demonstrated by comparison, by limiting solu-
nomial expansions of the complete elliptic integral functions tion, and by self-consistency of theories that (25) is valid and
and other appropriate terms. Agreement with commonly ac- leads to alternative forms for expressing the magnetic field gen-
cepted solutions is shown. erated by a current loop. Although not investigated here, there
SCHILL: GENERAL RELATION FOR THE VECTOR MAGNETIC FIELD 965

may be some numerical advantage in using one form of solu- Note that the above proof applies to the appropriate incomplete
tion as compared to another. For the on-axis limiting solution, elliptic integral functions as well. The only modification re-
it was observed that the radial component of the magnetic field quired is to replace ( ) in the integral limits of (A3) and (A4)
as developed by others required careful handling of the coeffi- and in the elliptic argument of (A6) by the appropriate ampli-
cients of the elliptic functions in order to demonstrate that the tude usually denoted with the symbol or [33]. Also, note
field vanishes. Employing the alternative form developed in this that some handbooks [33] employ the symbol instead
work, the field component vanishes without special handling of of to represent the parameter of the elliptic integral functions.
the coefficients. It is commonly known that the elliptic function The convention of choice in this effort is . The tabulated forms
of second kind is well behaved over its parameter space. As one readily found in mathematical handbooks are (A5) and (23).
approaches the current loop, approaches 1. It is observed that The limiting solutions require knowledge of the expansion of
the coefficient of the elliptic function of second kind in (25) be- the complete elliptic integral functions of first, second, and third
comes singular implying that the elliptic function of third kind kinds. The first two can be found in literature, but the third does
with the appropriate parameters becomes singular. Examining not seem to be available. In order to establish a correct proce-
(26) and (B2), the coefficient of the elliptic function of third dure in developing the series representation of these integrals,
kind is well behaved whereas that of the second kind becomes series solutions for all three are derived and the first two com-
singular as the current loop is approached. The impact of this pared with tabulated results for correctness in approach. The in-
singularity may now be handled either in the coefficient of the tegrands of each of the three integral forms are expanded using a
elliptic function of second kind or in the elliptic function of third binomial series and then appropriately integrated. The series ex-
kind depending on whether (26) or (B2) is employed. pansions used in the integrands of the complete elliptic integral
functions of the first, second, and third kinds are, respectively
APPENDIX A
NEEDED MATHEMATICAL FORMULAS
Two mathematical formulas dealing with the derivative of
elliptic integral functions with respect to their parameters are (A7a)
derived. These are compared to existing tabulated expressions.
Series approximations of the elliptic integral functions are also
(A7b)
examined and compared to literature. These expansions find ap-
plications to limiting solutions.
The derivative of elliptic integral functions of first kind (A7c)
and second kind with respect to their parameters may be
obtained by using the chain rule on the derivative of the product
of the elliptic integral functions with parameter as follows: where and . Employing the ex-
pansions (A7a)(A7c) in the integrands of the complete elliptic
integral functions, integrating and retaining up to orders of
(A1) yields (28a)(28c). Equations (28a) and (28b) are identical to
what exists in literature [33].
(A2)

Substituting in the integral form for the complete elliptic inte- APPENDIX B
grals on the left-hand side of these relations yields, upon differ- EXISTING MAGNETIC FIELD SOLUTIONS FOR A CURRENT LOOP
entiating and simplifying
The vector magnetic field as generated by a circular loop of
current is commonly expressed in component form in a cylin-
(A3)
drical coordinate system as [21][23]

(A4)

where is the complete elliptic function of third kind. Substi-


tuting (A3) and (A4), respectively, into (A1) and (A2) yields (B1)

(A5)

(A6) (B2)
966 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MAGNETICS, VOL. 39, NO. 2, MARCH 2003

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SCHILL: GENERAL RELATION FOR THE VECTOR MAGNETIC FIELD 967

[30] L. Urankar, P. Henninger, and F. S. Nestel, Compact extended Robert A. Schill, Jr. (M91SM93) received the B.S.E.E. degree from the Mil-
algorithms for elliptic inegrals in electromagnetic field and potential waukee School of Engineering, Milwaukee, WI, in 1979, and theM.S.E.E. and
computations Part II: Elliptic integral of the third kind with extended Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1981 and 1986.
integration range, IEEE Trans. Magn., vol. 30, pp. 12361241, May respectively.
1994. He taught and performed research at the University of Illinois, Chicago, be-
[31] R. A. Schill, Jr. and K. Hoff, Characterizing and calibrating a large tween 1986 and 1993. From 1993 to present, he has been teaching and per-
Helmholtz coil at low AC magnetic field levels with peak magnitudes forming research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). In 1997, he
below the Earths magnetic field, Rev. Sci. Instrum., vol. 72, pp. was promoted to Associate Professor. He is the founder and director of the Elec-
27692776, June 2001. tromagnetics and Optics Research Laboratory at UNLV (established September
[32] H. B. Dwight, Tables of Integrals and Other Mathematical Data, 4th 1994). He is the director and co-founder of the Pulse Power Research Labora-
ed. New York: MacMillan, 1961, p. 186, Eqs. 788.1 and 788.2. tory at UNLV (established May of 2001), which houses the Nevada Shocker.
[33] M. Abramowitz and I. A. Stegun, Eds., Handbook of Mathematical He has published over 20 peer reviewed papers journal, secured a significant
Functions. New York: Dover, 1972, Dover edition, 9th printing, p. number of theoretical and experimental grants, and performed local community
591, Eqs. 17.3.11 and 17.3.12. service annually on a professional level.