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When do I use Biot-Savart Law vs. Ampere's Law?

  1. Jun 7, 2016 #1
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  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2016 #2

    Charles Link

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    In order to use Ampere's law, it is necessary to have some symmetry to the integral around the loop. i.e. for ## \oint B \cdot dl=\mu_o I ## , in a problem with radial symmetry,(such as a long straight current carrying conductor), the ## B ## is normally constant throughout the entire circular path that is chosen for the integral. For a linear symmetry, such as a long solenoid, a path of a thin rectangular loop is used. The ## B ## is assumed to be zero outside the solenoid (over the outer part of the path) and the ## B ## is assumed to have the same value on the entire length of the interior. Biot-Savart can also be used to solve these cases, but the Biot-Savart integrals are more difficult than the Ampere's law integrals. Meanwhile for a single circular current carrying loop, you don't have a symmetric path to use Ampere's law, and the Biot-Savart solution is necessary.
  4. Jun 7, 2016 #3
    Perfect answer, thank you so much! That totally clears me up.
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