Reed Relays and
Electronics India Limited
Manufacturer of Reed Switches, Reed Sensors and Reed-based products
Reed Relays and Electronics India Limited Incorporated in 1971

Electro-motive Force (EMF)

Electromotive Force

Electro-motive Force is a measure of the energy that causes current to flow through a circuit. It is also the potential difference in charge between two points in a circuit.


In electromagnetism and electronics, electromotive force (also electromotance, abbreviated emf, denoted or ) is an energy transfer to an electric circuit per unit of electric charge, measured in volts. Devices called electrical transducers provide an emf by converting other forms of energy into electrical energy. Other electrical equipment also produce an emf, such as batteries, which convert chemical energy, and generators, which convert mechanical energy. This energy conversion is achieved by physical forces applying physical work on electric charges. However, electromotive force itself is not a physical force, and for the current ISO/IEC standards consider the term deprecated, favoring the names source voltage or source tension instead (denoted ).

An electronic–hydraulic analogy may view emf as the mechanical work done to water by a pump, which results in a pressure difference (analogous to voltage).

In electromagnetic induction, emf can be defined around a closed loop of a conductor as the electromagnetic work that would be done on an elementary electric charge (such as an electron) if it travels once around the loop.

For two-terminal devices modeled as a Thévenin equivalent circuit, an equivalent emf can be measured as the open-circuit voltage between the two terminals. This emf can drive an electric current if an external circuit is attached to the terminals, in which case the device becomes the voltage source of that circuit.

Although an emf gives rise to a voltage and can be measured as a voltage and may sometimes informally be called a "voltage", they are not the same phenomenon (see § Distinction with potential difference).

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