You are on page 1of 6

Hall Eect

Evan Rule March 3, 2013

Abstract In order to investigate the nature of charge carriers in electric conductors, we carry out an experiment to measure the Hall coecients of silver and tungsten. Using a microvoltmeter, we are able to make measurements of the Hall voltage across a conductor due to an applied magnetic eld. Using a weighted least squares regression, we t our data to a linear model, and in doing so, we determine the Hall coecients for silver and tungsten to be, respectively, RH = (8 1.82) 1011 m3 C1 and RH = (8 6.59) 1011 m3 C1 .


The rst measurement of the Hall Eect was made in 1879 by Edwin Hall, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. This phenomenon can be applied to determine the density of charge carriers in a given conductor, and whether the charge carriers are positively or negatively charged. The principle of the Hall Eect has been used to develop Hall probes, devices which measure magnetic ux density and are ubiquitous in modern electronics. Today, many variants of the Hall Eect are known, including the integer quantum Hall Eect, for which German physicist Klaus von Klitzing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1985. The Hall Eect describes the behavior of charge carriers moving in a magnetic eld. In the absence of an external magnetic eld, charge carriers in a conductor travel in approximately straight paths. When an external magnetic eld is applied perpendicular to this motion, the charge carriers experience a Lorentz force which causes their paths to curve. As a result, charge begins to build at one side of the conductor. This asymmetric charge distribution gives rise to an electric eld inside the conductor, and likewise an electric potential dierence between the two sides of the conductor. The measured potential dierence is related to the magnetic eld and the transverse current by a constant of proportionality known as the Hall constant, RH . Note that the Hall constant is material-dependent. Using the theory of classical electrodynamics, we can carry out a measurement of RH for a given conductor.


In order to make a measurement of Hall coecient for silver and tungsten, we employ an apparatus and procedure similar to the classic experiment performed by Edwin Hall.



The apparatus generally consists of six components. A high-current power supply is used to generate a steady transverse current, I , which ows through a conductor made of either silver or tungsten.

Figure 1: Detailed view of the teslameter used to measure the strength of the magnetic eld. (1) is the
B-probe connection. (2) switches between constant and alternating elds. (3) adjusts the measurement range from 20 mT to 2000 mT. (7) allows for automatic calibration. (Image taken from Leybold Didactic Specication Manual)

Figure 2: The experimental setup. Clockwise from top-middle: The voltmeter, the teslameter, the highcurrent power source, the ampmeter. (Image taken from Leybold Didactic Specication Manual)

The magnetic eld used in our experiment is generated using an electromagnet. We have three dierent measurement devices: an ampmeter to verify the strength of the transverse current, a teslameter to measure the strength of the magnetic eld (see Fig. 1), and a microvoltmeter to determine the Hall voltage across the conductor. For more information on the experimental setup, see Fig. 2.

Figure 3: A simplied outline of the experiment. Charge carriers moving with steady current I are subject
to a Lorentz force from an external magnetic eld, Bz . This force alters the paths of the charges, causing a potential dierence across the conductor. (Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)



In order to determine the Hall coecient, RH , of the conductor, we must rst understand the dependence of the Hall voltage, UH , on both the transverse current, I , that passes through the conductor and the applied magnetic eld, B . These two relationships, UH I and UH B , can be determined by varying the current and the magnetic eld and measuring the aect of these changes on the potential across the conductor. We predict a relationship of the form: UH = (constant)IB (1)

From the theory of charge carriers, we see that the Hall voltage for a strip-shaped conductor of thickness d made of material with charge carrier concentration n is given by UH = 1 1 IB ne d (2)

Thus, by determining the constant of proportionality in Eq. (1) and by knowing the thickness, d, we have directly that 1 RH = , (3) ne where RH is the material dependent Hall constant. We begin our experiment by demagnetizing the iron of the electromagnet. We place the conductor in the apparatus and adjust for zero point uctuations by setting the voltmeter to zero in the absence of an applied magnetic eld. Now we apply the magnetic eld and measure the potential dierence across the conductor. We repeat these measurements several times for a range of values for the strength of the magnetic eld and the transverse current. We have chosen to increase the transverse current steps of 1.5 A, and the magnetic eld in increments of 50 mT. We observe the following maximum operating restrictions: magnet current IM = 10 A (or 650 mT), transverse current I = 20 A. For each value of transverse current, we vary the magnetic eld from 250 mT to 500 - 650 mT. We then shut o the electromagnet, recalibrate the microvoltmeter, and begin a new trial at the previous maximum value of the magnetic eld, progressing downward in 50 mT increments.

Figure 4: An example of a data set tted with a weighted least squares regression line. This data corresponds
to measurements made for silver with transverse current I = 3 A.


We t our data to a linear model of the form UH B, (4)

where is determined from a weighted least squares (WLS) regression (see NIST/SEMATECH 2 + 2 , where and 2013). The weight of each measurement is given by wi = 1/ U U B are B the standard deviations of the Hall voltage and magnetic eld measurements, respectively. We separate our measurements by the value of the transverse current, and also divide them into groups of measurements taken when increasing the magnetic eld and those taken when decreasing the magnetic eld. In each case, we nd the line of best t using a WLS regression (See Fig. 4 for an example t). Combining equations (1) and (4), we arrive at an expression for the Hall coecient: RH = d , I (5)

where d is the thickness of the conductor, given in the literature to be 5 105 m (Leybold Didactic). We t each of our data sets to nd and then use Eq. (5) in order to calculate the Hall coecient. The error on each measurement of the Hall coecient is obtained by adding the relevant errors in quadrature RH 2 2 d 2 I 2 = + + . (6) RH d I Averaging over measurements made with dierent values of transverse current, we determine 4

the mean value of the Hall coecient for silver and tungsten to be RH = (8 1.82) 1011 m3 C1 and RH = (8 6.59) 1011 m3 C1 , (8) respectively. Here, the uncertainties have been determined by averaging the errors determined for each trial via Eq. (6). From the literature, the accepted values for the Hall coecient of silver and tungsten, respectively, are RH = 8.9 1011 m3 C1 and RH = 1.18 1010 m3 C1 (Caravelli 2006). When we further subdivide our trials into those conducted while increasing the magnetic eld and those conducted while decreasing the magnetic eld, we see that for silver RH = (7 1.63) 1011 m3 C1 RH = (9 2.00) 1011 m3 C1 , and for tungsten RH = (7 7.98) 1011 m3 C1 RH = (9 4.19) 1011 m3 C1 . (11) (12) (9) (10) (7)


For both materials, the accepted value for the Hall Coecient lies within our measured range of values. However, our error in both cases is large. With regards to silver, much of our error can be attributed to the inherent uncertainty in our measurements of the transverse current and the thickness of the conducting slabs. The error in these measurements, as limited by our instruments, is d I 0.1 = 0.2, = . (13) d I I In aggregate, these uncertainties are sucient to make the error on our nal measurement of RH substantial. Conversely, the error of our measurement of the Hall coecient of tungsten can best be attributed to the poor tting of our data to a linear model. For a model with M degrees of freedom, the reduced 2 goodness of t parameter is given by 2 red = 2 , M (14)

where 2 is the usual goodness of t parameter. For each trial, we t a linear regression and nd the reduced 2 parameter. Averaging over all trials, we nd the mean reduced goodness of t parameter for tungsten to be 2 red = 5.65, where for a model which accurately describes the data we expect that 2 1. Therefore, we can conclude that our data for tungsten is not accurately red modeled by the proposed linear relationship. Note that for silver, we nd that 2 red = 0.77, indicating a possible over-tting of the data, likely due to overestimation of measurement variance, and possibly attributable to our choice of a weighted least squares regression. An interesting prospect for continued work would be a comparison of 2 values for weighted vs. unweighted least squares regressions. We can make a check on systematic error by comparing measurements made when increasing the magnetic eld vs. measurements made when decreasing the magnetic eld. We see that our measurements for silver are fairly symmetric in both value and error. For tungsten, however, 5

we see that our measurements made when increasing the magnetic eld are far less precise than those made while decreasing the magnetic eld. This eect could be caused by hysteresis of the electromagnet. While we would expect this phenomena to aect silver and tungsten equally, we used stronger magnetic elds for tungsten (650 mT for tungsten compared to 500 mT for silver). Thus, it is possible that large magnetic elds cause signicant hysteresis in our electromagnet, which disproportionately aects the observed magnetic eld when increasing vs. decreasing the driving current. We also note that the microvoltmeter is subject to an inherent drift which is not considered in our statistical analysis. Qualitatively, we observed that the microvoltmeter tended towards more negative values in an apparently random manner. It is possible that tungsten, which produces a negative Hall voltage in our experimental setup, could have been disproportionately aected by this drift, with its own Hall potential contributing to the inaccuracy of the microvoltmeter. This introduces another interesting prospect for continued work: to wire the apparatus in reverse and make new measurements of the Hall coecients.


We nd that an accurate determination of the Hall coecients of silver and tungsten is feasible with the apparatus and procedures described above, though a precise measurement of these values is made dicult by systematic errors. The physical implications of our results concern the dierence in the nature of charge carriers in silver and tungsten. We measured a positive Hall coecient for silver and a negative Hall coecient for tungsten. This disparity indicates a fundamental dierence in the nature of charge carriers in silver and tungsten. Our results support a hole theory of charge carriers in tungsten, in which it is not electrons, but the absences of electrons which act as the moving charges. Possibilities for continued work include a comparison of least squares tting methods and a new determination of Hall coecients with an identical apparatus wired in reverse.

[1] Caravelli, G.J., The Hall Eect in Silver and Tungsten, Johns Hopkins University, October 2006. [2] Leybold Didactic, Hall Eect Apparatus Instruction Sheet, Leyboldstrasse, Germany [3] NIST/SEMATECH, e-Handbook of Statistical Methods,, February 2013.