Barlow's wheel was an early demonstration of a homopolar motor, designed and built by English mathematician and physicist, Peter Barlow in 1822. An electric current passes through the hub of the wheel to a mercury contact on the rim; this is contained in a small trough through which the rim passes. Due to health and safety considerations brine is sometimes used today in place of mercury. The interaction of the current with the magnetic field of a U-magnet causes the wheel to rotate. The presence of serrations on the wheel is unnecessary and the apparatus will work with a round metal disk, usually made of copper or aluminium.