electrical conductor

What is an electrical conductor?

Conductors are the material that allows passage to heat, electricity, or sound through them. Here we will discuss electrical conductors.

In the field of electrical engineering, electrical conductors are commonly used materials. Insulators, semiconductors, and superconductors are a few other materials used in the electrical world.

What is an electrical conductor?

Electrical conductors are the materials that allow the electric current to flow through it. Silver, copper, aluminium, etc. are a few examples of electrical conductors.

The material’s ability to conduct electric current is called electrical conductivity. Electrical conductivity gives the value to which extent the material can conduct. The reciprocal of the conductivity is resistivity.

How an electrical conductor conducts electricity?

Electricity is the flow of charges. In a conductor, there are millions of atoms that possess millions of electrons. The electrons present in the outermost shell are called free electrons. These free electrons move randomly inside the conductor.

But when an external voltage is applied, a potential difference is formed between the negative and positive terminal of the voltage source. Then the negatively charged electrons start moving from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. This starts conducting electric current in the direction opposite to the flow of electrons.

Energy band of the conductor

The energy band diagram of the conductor is shown below:

Energy band of electrical conductor. In blue, is conduction band and in orange, is valence band. Both conduction band and valence band overlap each other.

Conduction of current is possible because of charge carriers (electrons). In the conductor, the charge carriers are present in the valence band. The valence band and the conduction band of the conductor overlap each other, therefore there is no forbidden energy gap between CB and VB.

So, a small amount of external energy provides enough energy to the electrons present in the valence band to move to the conduction band easily. At room temperature the conduction band of the conductor is almost full that’s why the conductor easily conducts electricity at room temp.

Read More: Energy band diagram of 3 different solids

Properties

  • There should be no electric field inside the conductor
  • The conductor should always allow the movement of electrons and ions
  • Charge density inside the conductor should be zero.
  • Free charges can only exist on the surface of the conductor.

Applications

  • Conductors are used to making various kinds of electrical wires, like wires used in overhead transmission lines, wires used in households, etc.
  • It is also used in electrical machines

Quick Summary

Electrical conductor conducts electricity. Copper, aluminium is commonly used in electrical conductors. Electrical wires are electrical conductors.

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