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Tesla, Nikola

current alternating frequency electrical

[ tes la] (1856–1943) Croatian–US physicist and electrical engineer: a pioneer of alternating current and inventor of the AC induction motor.

Tesla studied engineering at Graz and Prague before commencing work as an electrical engineer. In 1884 he emigrated to the USA, where he worked for before quarrelling and setting up on his own. Soon afterwards he developed the alternating current induction motor, eliminating the commutator and sparking brushes required by DC motors. He also made substantial improvements in the field of AC power transmission and generation, realizing that it could be transmitted and generated far more efficiently than the then commonly used direct current. He patented his inventions and set up a partnership with George Westinghouse (1846–1914) to commercialize them. His interest then turned to high-frequency alternating current, developing the Tesla coil, an air-core transformer with the primary and secondary windings in resonance to produce high-frequency, high-voltage output. In 1899 he used this device to produce an electric spark 41 m/135 ft long, and claimed to illuminate 200 lights over a distance of 40 km/25 mi without intervening wires by using the Earth as a transmitting oscillator. He was increasingly interested in transmitting power over large distances without wires; he became an eccentric recluse after 1892. The SI unit of magnetic flux density, the tesla (T), is named after him.

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