Nikola Tesla Patents the Tesla Coil
A Tesla coil is a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891.
It is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla experimented with a number of different configurations and they consist of two, or sometimes three, coupled resonant electric circuits. Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorescence, x-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires for point-to-point telecommunications, broadcasting, and the transmission of electrical power.
The early Tesla coil transformer design employs a medium- to high-voltage power source, one or more high voltage capacitor(s), and a spark gap to excite a multiple-layer primary inductor with periodic bursts of high frequency current. The multiple-layer Tesla coil transformer secondary is excited by resonant inductive coupling, the primary and secondary circuits both being tuned so they resonate at the same frequency (typically, between 25 kHz and 2 MHz). The later and higher-power coil design has a single-layer primary and secondary. These Tesla coils are often used by hobbyists and at venues such as science museums to produce long sparks.
Tesla coil circuits were used commercially in sparkgap radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920s, and in electrotherapy and medical devices such as violet ray. Today their main use is entertainment and educational displays. Tesla coils are built by many high-voltage enthusiasts, research institutions, science museums and independent experimenters. Modified Tesla coils are widely used as igniters for high power gas discharge lamps, common examples being the mercury vapor and sodium types used for street lighting. Although electronic circuit controllers have been developed, Tesla's original spark gap design is less expensive and has proven extremely reliable.