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# Oscillations and Resonance in an LCR Circuit

A digital oscilloscope and frequency generator were used in conjunction with an LCR circuit to
investigate what happens at different frequencies and how the circuit reacts as it enters resonance.
By plotting V
L
against frequency we were able to determine the value of L which was found to be
!."#\$.!%m&. 'he effects of having different si(ed resistors in the circuit were also investigated
using a similar circuit to the one used when loo)ing at the effects of varying the frequency. *t was
found that using resistors with greater resistance caused a higher level of damping in the circuit.
'his is shown in how the damping constant+ ,+ increases with resistance+ causing much higher
damping with higher resistance. 'he effect of altering the amount of resistance in the circuit on the
resonant frequency was slight but noticeable. As the resistance was increased in the range of "."-
to ""- the frequency only decreased by about ."\$&
(
which is small considering that the resonant
frequencies were in the order of ".\$\$\$&
(
.
Introduction
'his e/periment relied on the principle of Len(0s law which states that the induced 123 opposes
the charge that has caused it4!5. 'his is )nown as bac) 123. 'he ability of an inductor or coil to
produce a bac) 123 is )nown as its self6inductance+ L and is given in the equation as7
Another equation for the self6inductance can be derived by loo)ing at the instantaneous voltages in
a closed LC circuit. 'his derivation leads to an equation relating the instantaneous voltages to the
charge in the circuit which is in the form of an equation for simple harmonic motion. 8hen
substituting in for the period and natural frequency+ 9
\$+
you get the equation4"57
Methodology
:uring the initial part of the e/periment+ the objective was to investigate how V
L
varied as the
frequency was changed. A diagram of the equipment used for this is shown in 3ig. !. 8hen
calculating the resonant frequency of the circuit for different values of the resistor+ R+ a capacitor+ C+
=L
dI
dt
!%
L=
!
;
"
f
\$
"
C
"%
was placed in parallel with the inductor L. 'he oscilloscope
used in this particular e/periment was a digital oscilloscope.
waveform shown on the screen. 'he cursor function was very
useful in reading results more accurately and precisely than
with the na)ed eye. 'he average tool on the oscilloscope was
also helpful as is caused the trace to become less distorted and
more focused.
Results
3or the first part of the investigation+ the magnitude of V
L
was measured as a function of a changing
frequency. 'his is show in <raph !. 'his function can be
represented by the equation7

*n equation .%+ the gradient of graph ! is represented by
"=L>R%V
R
. 'his can be rearranged to give that
L ? !." # \$.!%m&.
'he ne/t step in the e/periment was to determine the value
of the resonant frequency+ 9
\$
. 'his was found by modifying the circuit in 3ig.! slightly
by placing a capacitor+ C+ in parallel with the inductor+ L. 'he
frequency generator was then set to give a !)&
(
square wave.
'he trace on the oscilloscope was now in the form of a
damped sine wave. 'he resonant frequency was then found by
!>@eriod which was found to be "".A # \$.B%)&
(
. 3rom this
value of the resonant frequency+ and )nowing the value of C+
it was possible to find a value for the inductance+ L+ using
equation "%. 'he value of L obtained through this method is
;.C # \$.B%D!\$
6;
&. 'he equation
of the damped sine curve in graph " is given by7
Fig.1: A schematic of the circuit used
for a lot of the experiment. Y
A
and Y
B

were connected to CH1 and CH2 on
the oscilloscope respectively.
Common E
A
E
B
Fscillator
L R
Graph 1: This graph shows how
!

depends on the fre"uency that the
circuit is driven at. The gradient of the
function is #\$.%& ' \$.\$2()H
*
+1
and the
intercept is #\$., ' \$.-(m.
V
L
=
" L
R
V
R
f .%
Graph 2: This graph shows how
voltage varies with time for the
circuit mentioned on the left. .t
has values of w / #2.10-0% '
\$.\$\$\$\$&(11\$
+0
and t
\$
/ #2.&-2 '
\$.\$\$0(11\$
+,
.
V =V
\$
Ae
t
t
\$
sin
t t
c

w

;%
8here V
\$
+ A+ w+ t
\$
+ and t
c
are all constants depending on the specific circumstances within the
circuit. 'he damping constant+ ,+ is given by the equation7
'he resonant frequency+ 9
\$
+ is related to the constant w through the equation7
Gsing the equation B% that the damping constant of the wave is found to be+ , ? .;HB # I%&
(.
. 'his
value of the damping constant is not too high which is illustrated in the graph+ a higher damping
constant will cause more rapid damping of the wave. 'he damping constant can also be defined in
terms of r the resistance in the circuit% and L the inductance% from the relationship7
'he value of r can be calculated from equation A% as the values of , and L are already )nown. 3rom
this+ the value of r is found to be r ? ... # \$.!%-. :ue to the nature of this circuit+ the magnitude of
r can be equated to the resistance of the coil.
1very oscillatory circuit has a quality factor J factor%. 'his is a dimensionless quantity which is a
measure of how rapidly the oscillations die out. *f a circuit has a high quality factor then it is only
lightly damped. 'he J factor can be calculated as follows7
'he J factor for the previous e/periment can be calculated using equation H% and is found to be J
? "\$.. # \$.!%
'he penultimate series of measurements ta)en during
this e/periment involved loo)ing at how the resonant
frequency+ and various other circuit dependant quantities+
were affected by changing the value of R in 3ig.!. 'he
equation of graph .0s damped sine wave is the same as in
equation ;% which means that the values of the damping
constant and the resonant frequency are quite straight forward
to wor) out. 'he value of , obtained from this data using
=
!
t
\$
B%
f
\$
=
!
"w
I%
=
r
"L
A%
Q=
" f
\$
L
r
=

\$
L
r
H%
Graph 3: This shows a decaying
plot of time against voltage for 3 /
2.24. 5 / #2.10\$,2 ' \$.\$\$\$\$&(11\$
+
0
and t
\$
/ #1.6-% ' \$.\$\$2(11\$
+,
.
equation B%% is BIA" # I% and the value for the resonant frequency found using equation I%% is
"."BI # ;%&
(
. 'his e/periment was repeated three more
times using values of ;.A-+ !\$- and ""- as R in 3ig. !.
8hen the ;.A- resistor was used in the circuit there was
no noticeable difference in the resonant frequency from
the "."- circuit as it remained at "."BI # ;%&
(
. &owever+
the damping constant has increased to H!CA # A%. 'his
higher damping constant means that there will be a higher
level of damping and that the wave will decay much faster
than the "."- wave. 8hen replacing R with a much
higher value resistor you would e/pect a higher level of
damping which is e/actly what is observed. 'he damping
constants for the !\$- and ""- resistors are+ !.;I\$ # "\$%
and "B"B\$ # B\$% respectively. 'his shows e/actly what was e/pected and is easily visible in graph
;. the value of the resonant frequency of these waves does not cat in the same way as the damping
constant. *n fact+ it decreases as the value of R is increased. 'he reason that this is not visible
between the "."- and the ;.A- resistors is because the difference between the resonant frequencies
is negligible when compared to the si(e of the frequencies themselves. 'he resonant frequencies for
the !\$- and ""- resistors calculated with equation I%% are+ ".!B\$ # !\$%&
(
and ""C;\$ # .\$%&
(

respectively. 1ven with these higher values of R the difference between the resonant frequencies is
minimal so it is easy to see how no change was
detected between the lower value resistors.
'he final part of this e/periment involved
e/amining the circuits behaviour when driven near
the predicted natural frequency. <raph B was
created by ta)ing measurements of the pea) to
pea) voltage and frequency that were displayed on
the oscilloscope screen. 'he values of the pea) to
pea) voltage were then used to calculate the total
power absorbed+ using the following equation7

"."- ;.A-
!\$- ""-
Graph 4: This set of graphs shows a
more visi7le comparison 7etween the
damping constants of the four waves. This
ma8es it much easier to see how the
resistance affects the voltage.
Graph : This graph shows a plot of the
driven fre"uency against the power
measured according to e"uation #2(.
Power=
V
L
MAX

"
r
C%
Gsing this you obtain graph B which has a large pea) in the power at a frequency of about ".." #
\$.!%)&
(
. 'his is because it is the natural frequency of this circuit and when the circuit is driven at its
natural frequency+ it starts to resonate. 'his causes a higher pea) to pea) voltage and therefore more
power. Gsing graph B it is possible to calculate a value for the quality factor+ J. this is found using
the equation7
8here 9
\$
is the value of its natural frequency and K9 is the frequency difference from resonance
where the voltage across the inductor is half its ma/imum value. 'he value of K9 calculated from
this data is !.\$ # \$.!%)&
(
which+ using the value of 9
\$
from above+ gives a quality factor of
J ? ". # "%. 'his value of J is quite high meaning that the circuit is only lightly damped.
!iscussion and Conclusion
<raph !+ and the beginning of the results section+ showed one method for calculating the value of
the inductance+ L. 'his value was not the best though as the actual value of L for this circuit should
have been calculated to be in the order of !\$
6;
. 'he value of L wor)ed out using equation "% was a
much more realistic result.
8hen investigating the effects of varying the value of R+ it was seen that as R increases+ so
does the damping constant. 'he resonant frequency on the other hand started to decrease very
slowly. 'his was not predicted to happen as the natural frequency of an LCR circuit should not
depend on the value of R. 'his anomaly is most li)ely due to a random error in the equipment used.
3inally the variance of power was measured with respect to the driving frequency. 'his e/periment
turned some very predictable results in that the power pea)ed at a frequency close to the resonant
frequency. 'he value of the quality factor that emerged also seemed reasonable as it fit well with the
other values of J.
2ost of these revolved around the use of the digital oscilloscope. Fn the plus side+ the automatic
display of the frequency sped up the ta)ing of some measurements a lot+ as did the cursor function.
:espite how the cursor function sped up the e/periment+ it was not particularly reliable. :ue to the
digital nature of the display it was not always clear if the cursor had been correctly lined up with the
trace and so some errors may have occurred in measuring the data.
Re"erences
4!5 Eoung and 3reedman+ University Physics with Modern Physics - !"
th
1dition, p!\$\$B
Q=
f
\$
f
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