Air-Core Coils

The simplest inductors (besides plain, straight lengths of wire) are coils. A coil can be wound on a hollow cylinder of plastic or other non ferromagnetic material, forming an air-core coil. In practice, the maximum attainable inductance for such coils is about 1 mH.

Air-core coils are used mostly in radio-frequency transmitters, receivers, and antenna networks. In general, the higher the frequency of ac, the less inductance is needed to produce significant effects. Air-core coils can be made to have almost unlimited current-carrying capacity, simply by using heavy-gauge wire and making the radius of the coil large. Air does not dissipate much energy in the form of heat. It’s efficient, even though it has low permeability.