Contribution of Nikola Tesla: Two Most Fascinating Inventions

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Table of Contents

  • Significance of Tesla's AC Energy Induction Motor and the Tesla Coil in Electrical Innovation
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List

I spent the weekend diving deep into a thought-provoking Nikola Tesla essay that delves into his innovative contributions to electricity and their impact on modern technology. Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 - 7 January 1943) was a famous “crazy scientist” or “electric Jesus” throughout the late 1800s to early 1900s. He was of Serbian-American descent along with his five other siblings and made many great contributions to electrical engineering which still are beneficial to this day. Tesla attended a primary school in Smiljan, Croatia. There he learnt german, arithmetic and religion. Growing up, his family raised him an orthodox, but grew up to be an atheist. In 1870, he moved to Northern Karlovac, Croatia and attended a high school at the higher real Gymnasium, the classes were german. For tertiary education, he attended Graz University of Technology in Austrian Pyrotechnics, however dropped out after the first semester of his third year because the university couldn’t support him financially. On January 1880 he attended Charles University in Prague, Czech republic, even though he wasn’t enrolled. In 1881, he moved to Budapest, Hungary and found a job as an engineer. In 1884, he moved to America and briefly worked as Thomas Edison’s assistant but parted after Edison denied Tesla $50, 000. Tesla suffered from severe OCD which led to him developing his traits that earned him the name “crazy scientists” such as a hatred of touching human hair or anything round, and his love for the number 3 and pigeons, which he fell in love with a particular one, he also lived in a hotel room and slept for 2 hours a day.

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Significance of Tesla's AC Energy Induction Motor and the Tesla Coil in Electrical Innovation

While Tesla had many inventions, his two most influential ones are AC energy induction motor and the Tesla Coil. AC energy is the abbreviation for alternating energy. Alternating energy is an electric current which periodically changes direction. Michael Faraday already discovered AC before Tesla, however, Tesla was the one that made a motor AC power which and set the standard all across the globe. There are two types of AC motors, induction and synchronous, Tesla’s motor was an induction motor because they can overcome the magnetic flux in the motor another factor is that AC induction motors is that the electrical current needed to produce torque in the motors is created through electromagnetic induction which is the production of voltage across an electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field. The AC induction motor is comprised of two basic components, the outside stator, and the inside rotor. A stator is the non-moving part of the motor, and is a three coil winding which passes through the slots of the stator (stacked thin highly permeable steel laminations) both these parts are inside a steel or cast iron frame. When a three phase current passes through the winding, it creates a rotating magnetic field. This happens because when current passes through a wire, it creates a magnetic field. Because of the variations in AC current, the magnetic field takes different orientations at different instances, this is what causes the rotating magnetic field. The second part is the inside rotor (resembling a squirrel cage)which is the moving component in an electric motor. Tesla built the induction motors rotor with conductive material, which produces the Lorentz force by the rotating magnetic field. This ultimately leads to eddy currents (a localised electric current produced by a varying magnetic field) being produced which is what causes a torque on the rotors axis, causing it to produce motion.

His second invention, which is the Tesla Coil, is an equally important invention as the AC motor, which could supply supply electricity wirelessly to devices without harming people(i.e high voltage, low current). Unlike the AC motor, the Tesla Coil is incredibly complex. It consists of a primary coil, a secondary coil, a top load, a capacitor, a transformer, and a spark gap. The function of the transformer is that it changes the input current and amplifies the output voltage.This happens because electrons have their own magnetic field, more so when in motion. So in a wire (the primary coil) the electrons create a massive varying magnetic field. It magnetises other electrons, so what happens is that the primary coil, “pulls” on the secondary coil. So as the electricity gets pulled by both the primary coil and the secondary coil, it gains more and more momentum as it travels back and forth. The primary capacitor is used with the primary coil to create the primary LC circuit. Unlike the transformer, it focuses on static electricity instead of magnetism as well as magnetic fields of electrons. The capacitor can temporarily store electricity, but eventually discharges in timed intervals. The current from the capacitor goes into a primary coil. The primary coils function is that it transfers power to the secondary coil. When the electricity passes the primary coil, the magnetic field immediately decays and collapses which pushes all the electrons in the secondary coil. The secondary coil is used with the top load to create the secondary LC circuit, a magnet wire is also used to hold the coil. The electricity then flows into the top load which manages to store all the electrons.The top load is the metal component at the top of the Tesla Coil, it is generally a toroid or sphere shape. This is because having a toroid shape allows for a higher magnetic field and therefore higher induction. As the field decays, it causes all the electrons to move up and down in sync, which makes the energy in the top load very strong. In the spark gap, that is where all the energy is concentrated from the powerful energy and the synchronous resonance, it is magnified in the secondary coil which is expelled from the top load. This expulsion of energy is the lightning we see from the Tesla Coils.

Not much is known about how the AC induction motor came to be, however in 1887 and 1888 Tesla had an experimental shop at 89 Liberty Street, New York, and there he invented the induction motor. In 1981, Nikola tesla designed what would become the earliest prototype of Tesla Coil. In 1982, the Tesla Coil came to life, and was made reality. Tesla designed the Tesla Coil because he wanted to create a wireless electricity lightning system, which could power light bulbs.

The AC system that Tesla developed still is the global standard for power transmission, as it is used commonly in homes and in businesses. Induction motors are used in almost every electrical process, such as kitchen appliances, fans, air conditioners and water pumps 50% of global electric power consumption is due to induction motors, and 90% of industrial motors are induction motors. AC induction motors are efficient, cheap to manufacture and flexible so that allows them to match industry demand for any electrical process.


A negative impact of using AC energy is that people use AC energy for electric chairs, when electric chairs were first introduced, they were presented as being humane and painless. When in reality, they were not. The electric chair was used from 1890 to 2018 in the USA. Capital punishments are also proven to not be effective as criminals do not consider consequences when performing crimes. A very high amount is shown to have mental illnesses and are therefore not logical when deciding how they can fix their poor and impoverished life, so they turn to crime. The only way to truly minimise the number of criminals is by getting to the root of their social and economic lives, and instead of punishment, focus on rehabilitation. So we can conclude that with the discovery of AC energy, electric chairs are useless because they do not solve anything.  

Reference List

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  2. Seifer, M. (2001). Wizard: The life and times of Nikola Tesla: biography of a genius. Citadel.

  3. Hunt, I. T. (1986). Tesla coil. IEEE Electrical Insulation Magazine, 2(3), 8-19.

  4. Childress, D. H. (2001). The fantastic inventions of Nikola Tesla. Adventures Unlimited Press.

  5. Martin, T. C., Eppley, K., & LaRocca, F. J. (2011). A brief overview of the life, achievements, and controversies of Nikola Tesla. Proceedings of the IEEE, 99(4), 748-755.

  6. Johnston, M. (2015). Nikola Tesla and the taming of electricity. Fall River Press.

  7. Carlson, W. B. (2013). Tesla: Inventor of the electrical age. Princeton University Press.

  8. O'Neill, J. J. (2016). Prodigal genius: The life of Nikola Tesla. IAP.

  9. Marincic, A., Trlep, M., & Sluga, T. (2018). The development of the Tesla coil. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Renewable Electrical Power Sources (REPS) (pp. 1-5). IEEE.

  10. Valjarević, A., Milutinović, D., & Marinković, S. (2019). Analysis of Tesla coil transformer and its possibilities for application in industry and medicine. In 2019 18th International Symposium INFOTEH-JAHORINA (INFOTEH) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

  11. Munson, J. (2004). Tesla's innovations in electrical power and his pioneering work in electronics. IEEE Industrial Electronics Magazine, 18(1), 33-40.

  12. Lomas, C. D., & Premovic, P. I. (2014). Development and practical implementation of resonant transformer wireless energy transfer for industrial applications. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 61(7), 3662-3672.

  13. Jelić, B., & Jelić, V. (2016). Nikola Tesla's transformer–Genius of alternating current. In 2016 International Symposium on Power Electronics, Electrical Drives, Automation and Motion (SPEEDAM) (pp. 1001-1008). IEEE.

  14. Brandenburg, L. (2014). The Tesla coil: Part 1—The design, construction and demonstration of a wireless power transmitter. Physics Education, 49(6), 625.

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