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Lcr oscillations

Lcr oscillations

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Free Oscillations

In the Mechanics class, you have seen several examples of harmonic oscillators: a mass

on a spring, a pendulum, physical pendulum, torsional pendulum, etc., etc. In all such

oscillators, the restoring force or torque is proportional to the linear or angular displacement

of some body from its equilibrium position, which leads to equation of motion of the form

d2 x

m = kx. (1)

dt2

where the amplitude A and the phase depend on the initial conditions (i.e., initial dis-

placement and velocity), but the frequency is completely determined by the equation of

motions (1),

r r

k 1 k

= = f = = . (3)

m 2 2 m

The electric version of the Harmonic oscillator is the LC circuit made from an inductor

and a capacitor,

C L

(4)

Initially, the capacitor is charged and / or a current is induced in the inductor. After that,

1

the current and the voltage oscillate harmonically according to

To see how it works, note that the capacitor discharges (or gets charged) through the induc-

tor, so the current I in the inductor and the charge Q on the capacitor are related as

dQ

I(t) = (6)

dt

Consequently, the voltage on the inductor is related to the second time derivative of the

charge as

dI d2 Q

VL (t) = L = L 2 . (7)

dt dt

However, in the LC circuit, the voltage on the inductor must be the same as the voltage on

the capacitor, thus

Q

VL = VC = . (8)

C

d2 Q 1

L 2

= VL = VC = Q(t). (9)

dt C

This second-order differential equation for the charge has the form Of the harmonic oscillator

equation (1), so its general solution is the harmonically oscillating charge

The amplitude Qmax and the phase of the oscillating charge depend on the initial con-

ditions, but the frequency of the oscillation is completely determined by the equation (9).

2

Indeed,

d2 Q

= 2 Qmax cos(t + ) (11)

dt2

so eq. (9) needs

1

+L 2 Qmax cos(t + ) = Qmax cos(t + ) (12)

C

and therefore

1 1

L 2 = = = . (13)

C LC

Or in terms of the cyclic frequency,

1

f = = . (14)

2 2 LC

1 1

= p = = 31.6 103 s1 (15)

(1.0 106 F) (1.0 103 H) 1.0 109 s2

f = 5.0 kHz. (16)

2

Given the harmonically oscillating charge (10), the voltage and the current in the LC

circuit also oscillate according to eqs. (5). Indeed,

Q(t) Qmax

V (t) = = cos(t + ), (17)

C C

while

dQ

I(t) = = Qmax sin(t + ) = +Qmax cos(t + + 90 ). (18)

dt

1

Note: the currents phase is 90 i.e., 4f ahead of the voltages, as shown on the

3

following diagram

I, V

Finally, consider the energy of the harmonic oscillator. The energy of the charged ca-

pacitor is

Q2 Q2

UC = = max cos2 (t + ). (19)

2C 2C

L L

UL = I2 = 2 Q2max sin2 (t + ) (20)

2 2

where L 2 = 1/C, cf. eq. (13). Consequently, adding the two energies gives us

Q2max 2 Q2

Unet = UC + UL = cos (t + ) + sin (t + ) = 1 max .

2

(21)

2C 2C

Thus, the net energy is constant as it should be since there is no dissipation in a pure

LC circuit but it moves from the capacitor to the inductor and back to capacitor every

4

half-period of the oscillation.

Damped Oscillations

Ideally, once a harmonic oscillator is set in motion, it keeps oscillating forever. In real

life, this does not happen because there is always some kind of a friction, or more generally,

some kind of energy loss. Consequently, the oscillation amplitude slowly diminishes with

time and eventually the motion stops altogether. In the electric case, the primary cause of

the energy dissipation in the LC circuit is the resistance of the wires making up the inductor,

although there could be other causes: hysteresis in the iron core of the solenoid, leakage of

the dielectric in the capacitor, etc., etc. For simplicity, let us focus on the resistance and

consider the RLC circuit

C L

(22)

Q dI

+ RI + L = 0, (23)

C dt

5

or in terms of the time-dependent capacitor charge Q(t),

1 dQ d2 Q

Q(t) + R + L 2 = 0. (24)

C dt dt

This is a linear second-order differential equation with constant coefficients, and its general

solution is

where the initial amplitude A and the phase depend on the initial conditions but the

frequency and the decay rate are determined by the R, L, and C.

To see how this works, note that the general solution to any linear differential equation

with constant coefficients real or complex is either an exponential x(t) = A exp(t)

for some (which may be complex), or a sum of several such exponentials

where n is the order of the equation. To find the 1 , . . . , n exponents, one plugs a single

exponential A exp(t) into the differential equation, which reduces it to a polynomial

equation for the .

Lets apply this general rule to the second-order equation (24) and plug in Q(t) = Aet .

This gives us

1

Aet + R Ae t + L 2 Aet = 0 (27)

C

1

L 2 + R + = 0. (28)

C

r

R 1 R2

1,2 = i , (29)

2L LC 4L2

6

or equivalently,

1 = + i , 2 = i (30)

2 2

where

L 1

q

= , 0 = , and = 02 41 2 . (31)

R LC

Since there are two roots 1 and 2 , the general complex solution of the equation (24) is

Q(t) = A1 exp(1 t) + A2 exp(2 t) = A1 ei t + A2 eit et/2 (32)

for any complex A1 and A2 . But since we need a real solution, this requires A2 = A1 , or

equivalently A1 = 21 Aei , A2 = 21 Aei for some real A and , and hence

1 i+it 1 iit

Q(t) = 2A e + 2A e et/2 = A cos(t + ) et/2 (25)

Graphically,

Physically, 0 = 1/ LC is the frequency of the un-damped purely-LC oscillator, =

q

02 = (/2)2 is the slightly smaller oscillation frequency of the dumped RLC oscillator,

7

and is the energy decay rate. Indeed, interpreting

as a decaying amplitude of the harmonic oscillations, the net oscillator energy decreases with

time as

Q2max A2

U(t) = = et . (34)

2C 2C

In other words, the energy decays exponentially at the rate : in time = 1/, the oscillator

loses 63% of its initial energy, in the nets t = , it looses 63% of the remaining energy,

etc., etc.

For example, consider the RLC circuit with L = 1.0 mH, C = 1.0 F, and R = 1.0 .

For this circuit,

R 1.0

= = = 1.0 103 s1 (35)

L 1.0 10 H

3

while

1

0 = = 31.6 103 s1 (36)

LC

and

q

= 02 (/2)2 0 = 31.6 103 s1 . (37)

t

this time, the circuit has 2 5 complete oscillations.

0

Q = (38)

is called the quality factor of the oscillator. For the RLC circuit in the above example,

Q 31.6 The higher this quality factor, the more oscillations are completed before the

energy is lost. Specifically, in the time the energy is reduced to 37% of its initial value, there

are Q/2 complete oscillations.

8

Forced Oscillations

Consider a pendulum being pushed by a small but periodic external force. The pendulum

responds to this force by swinging with the frequency of the force this is known as the

forced oscillation. When the frequency f of the force is far from the natural singing frequency

f0 of the pendulum, the forced oscillations have a rather small amplitude. But when the

external force happens to have frequency which is equal or close to the natural oscillation

frequency, f f0 , the oscillation amplitude becomes much larger. This large response to a

small force which happens to have the right frequency is known as the resonance.

The resonance is not peculiar to penduli, any harmonic oscillator will resonate if pushed

with the right frequency. In particular, the LCR circuit will resonate if pushed by the

external EMF with frequency matching the circuits free oscillation frequency

1

res = . (39)

LC

To see how this works, lets insert an external AC generator into a series LCR circuit:

E(t) = Emax cos(t + e ) = E eit (40)

with a variable frequency but fixed amplitude Emax . This EMF leads to a harmonic AC

9

current

I(t) = I eit (41)

E

I = (42)

Znet

where Znet is the net complex impedance of the LCR circuit. As we learned in the previous

lecture,

i

Znet = R + i L . (43)

C

The real amplitude of the current is

E Emax

Imax =

= |I|

=

. (44)

Znet |Znet |

so the smaller the magnitude of the net impedance, the stronger the current.

At low frequencies, the capacitors reactance XC = 1/(C) becomes large, much larger

than the resistance R or the inductors reactance XL = L. Consequently, the net impedance

Znet is dominated by the large iXC term, so |Znet | is large and the current amplitude Imax

is small. In the opposite limit of high frequencies, its the inductors reactance XL = L

which becomes very large and dominates the net impedance. Thus again, the |Znet | is large

and the current amplitude Imax is small.

But at intermediate frequencies, both the inductive and the capacitive reactances have

moderate values. Moreover, their contributions to the imaginary part of the net impedance

have opposite signs, and when the generators frequency happens to be equal to the free-

oscillation frequency

1

0 = (39)

LC

the inductive and the capacitive reactances completely cancel each other,

i

for = res , i L = 0 = Znet = R (45)

C

so only the ohmic resistance R contributes to the net impedance. For low R, this makes for

10

a much lower impedance at the resonant frequency than at all other frequencies and hence

much large current amplitude this is how the resonance works in the LCR circuit.

The strength of the resonance depends on the quality factor of the circuit,

p

res (LC)1/2 L/C

Q = = = . (46)

R/L R

The larger the Q-factor, the stronger the resonance. Let me illustrate that by plotting the

current amplitude Imax as a function of for fixed L, C, and the EMF amplitude Emax :

Imax

Red: Q = 20

Green: Q = 10

Blue: Q = 5

(47)

11

To see where these curves come from, lets rewrite

p

L/C

R = ,

Q

r

i L 1

i L = i LC

C C LC

r

L res

= i ,

C res

i

Znet = R + i L

r C

(48)

L 1 res

= + i i ,

C Q res

s

r 2

L 1 res

Znet = + ,

C Q2 res

Emax

Imax =

|Znet |

" 2 #1/2

Emax 1 res

= p + .

L/C Q2 res

The diagrams (47) plot the last equation here for Q = 5, 10, 20.

The resonance in an LCR circuit has many practical applications. For example, when

an antenna receives signals from many radio stations, an LCR circuit select the signal on the

resonating frequency for further amplification and demodulation while the signals at other

frequencies are filtered out. Indeed, consider the following circuit:

12

L + Rint C amplifier

The radio signals produce currents in the antenna and hence in the primary coil of the

transformer, which induce the radio-frequency EMF in the secondary coil L. This EMF in

tern leads to the current in the LC(R) circuit and hence to the voltage on the capacitor,

which is subsequently amplified, demodulated to get the sound signal, amplified again, and

finally produces sound in the speakers. But let me focus on just one stage in this process,

going from the EMF in the secondary coil L to the voltage on the capacitor. In terms of

complex amplitudes

E

VC = ZC I = ZC , (49)

Znet

hence

VC ZC (i/C)

= =

E Znet R + i L i/(C)

1

= (50)

i CR 1 + 2LC

2 1

RC 1

= 2

1+i =

res res LC Q

and therefore

1

VCmax

2

1

= 1 + i

E max 2

res res Q

2 2 !1/2 (51)

2 1

= 2

1 + 2 2 .

res res Q

13

At most frequencies, this ration is about 1 or just a little larger, but near the resonant fre-

quency res it grows large and reaches Q. For small internal resistances R and hence large

quality factors Q 1, there is a great amplification of a signal at the resonant frequency.

For example, for Q = 20

VCmax /E max

14

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