Monday, 22 July 2013 09:49


Additional Info

  • ID Code: I1-13
  • Purpose: Demonstrates differential thermal expansion
  • Description:

    Two strips of different metals, invar steel and brass, are welded together to form a bimetal strip. Since each metal has a different coefficient of thermal expansion, heating the bimetal strip will result in the metals expanding at different rates, causing it to bend.

    When heating, always wear goggles and handle the flame with care, ensuring that it is not pointed near students or flammable materials. Use in a well ventilated classroom.

    Engagement Suggestion
    Ask your students: • Which metal will expand more when it is heated, and why?
    • What happens when it is cooled?
    • How could you make use of this to measure or control something?

    The amount a metal expands or contracts with temperature is governed by its coefficient of thermal expansion, a property which varies between different metals depending on their molecular structure. Invar steel is an alloy designed to have an exceptionally low coefficient, about one-tenth that of most steel, while brass has a higher coefficient than even ordinary steel. So the brass expands much more rapidly than the steel does when heated.

    Bimetallic strips like this are used in some types of thermometers and thermostatic controllers (including many older window thermometers and household thermostats). Check out demonstrations I1-17 and I1-18 for examples and to see how this works.

  • Availability: Available
  • Loc codes: I1, I0
Read 6982 times Last modified on Wednesday, 26 May 2021 10:00
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