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Example 18.3 continued

Discussion Check: the resistance of an aluminum wire of

diameter 1.149 mm is
rL 2.65 108 m 30.0 m
= 0.767
R = ___ = ______________________
_1 p (1.149 103 m)2

Aluminum has a higher resistivity, so the wire must be

thicker to have the same resistance.
Extension cords are rated according to the maximum safe
current they can carry. For an appliance that draws a larger
current, a thicker extension cord must be used; otherwise,
the potential difference across the wires would be too large
(V = IR).

Practice Problem 18.3


Resistance of a Lightbulb

Find the resistance at 20C of a tungsten lightbulb filament

of length 4.0 cm and diameter 0.020 mm.

Resistivity does not depend on the size or shape of the material, but it does depend on
temperature. Two factors primarily determine the resistivity of a metal: the number of
conduction electrons per unit volume and the rate of collisions between an electron and
an ion. The second of these factors is sensitive to changes in temperature. At a higher
temperature, the internal energy is greater; the ions vibrate with larger amplitudes. As a
result, the electrons collide more frequently with the ions. With less time to accelerate
between collisions, they acquire a smaller drift speed; thus, the current is smaller for a
given electric field. Therefore, as the temperature of a metal is raised, its resistivity
increases. The metal filament in a glowing incandescent lightbulb reaches a temperature
of about 3000 K; its resistance is significantly higher than at room temperature.
For many materials, the relation between resistivity and temperature is linear over
a fairly wide range of temperatures (about 500C):
r = r 0 (1 + a T )


Here r 0 is the resistivity at temperature T0 and r is the resistivity at temperature T = T0 + T.

The quantity a is called the temperature coefficient of resistivity and has SI units C1
or K1. Temperature coefficients for some materials are listed in Table 18.1.
The relationship between resistivity and temperature is the basis of the resistance
thermometer. The resistance of a conductor is measured at a reference temperature and
at the temperature to be measured; the change in the resistance is then used to calculate
the unknown temperature. For measurements over limited temperature ranges, the linear relationship of Eq. (18-9) can be used in the calculation; over larger temperature
ranges, the resistance thermometer must be calibrated to account for the nonlinear variation of resistivity with temperature. Materials with high melting points (such as tungsten) can be used to measure high temperatures.

Temperature dependence of

Application: resistance

Semiconductors For semiconductors, a < 0. A negative temperature coefficient

means that the resistivity decreases with increasing temperature. It is still true, as for
metals that are good conductors, that the collision rate increases with temperature.
However, in semiconductors the number of carriers (conduction electrons and/or holes)
per unit volume increases dramatically with increasing temperature; with more carriers,
the resistivity is smaller.
Superconductors Some materials become superconductors (r = 0) at low temperatures. Once a current is started in a superconducting loop, it continues to flow indefinitely
without a source of emf. Experiments with superconducting currents have lasted more

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