Linear motor

A linear motor is an electric motor that has had its stator and rotor "unrolled", thus, instead of producing a torque (rotation), it produces a linear force along its length. However, linear motors are not necessarily straight. Characteristically, a linear motor's active section has ends, whereas more conventional motors are arranged as a continuous loop. Free-body diagram of a U-channel synchronous linear motor. The view is perpendicular to the channel axis. The two coils at centre are mechanically connected, and are energized in "quadrature" (meaning a phase difference of 90° (π/2 radians) between the flux of the magnets and the flux of the coils). The bottom and upper coils in this particular case have a phase difference of 90°, making this a two phase motor. (Not to scale) Synchronous linear motors are straightened versions of permanent magnet rotor motors

A typical mode of operation is as a Lorentz-type actuator, in which the applied force is linearly proportional to the current and the magnetic field $({\vec {F}}=I{\vec {L}}\times {\vec {B}})$ .

Linear motors are by far most commonly found in high accuracy engineering applications. It is a thriving field of applied research with dedicated scientific conferences and engineering text books.

Many designs have been put forward for linear motors, falling into two major categories, low-acceleration and high-acceleration linear motors. Low-acceleration linear motors are suitable for maglev trains and other ground-based transportation applications. High-acceleration linear motors are normally rather short, and are designed to accelerate an object to a very high speed, for example see the coilgun.

High-acceleration linear motors are typically used in studies of hypervelocity collisions, as weapons, or as mass drivers for spacecraft propulsion.[citation needed] They are usually of the AC linear induction motor (LIM) design with an active three-phase winding on one side of the air-gap and a passive conductor plate on the other side. However, the direct current homopolar linear motor railgun is another high acceleration linear motor design. The low-acceleration, high speed and high power motors are usually of the linear synchronous motor (LSM) design, with an active winding on one side of the air-gap and an array of alternate-pole magnets on the other side. These magnets can be permanent magnets or electromagnets. The motor for the Shanghai maglev train, for instance, is an LSM.