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Conventional electrical unit

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A conventional electrical unit (or simply conventional unit where there is no
risk of ambiguity) is a unit of measurement in the field of electricity which is
based on the conventional values of the Josephson constant and the von Klitzing
constant agreed by the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM)
in 1988. These units are very similar in scale to their corresponding SI units,
but are not identical because of their different definition. They are
distinguished from the corresponding SI units by setting the symbol in italic
typeface and adding a subscript "90" eg, the conventional volt has the symbol
V90 as they came into international use on 1 January 1990.
This system was developed to increase the precision of measurements: The
Josephson and von Klitzing constants can be realized with great precision,
repeatability and ease. The conventional electrical units have achieved
acceptance as an international standard and are commonly used outside of the
physics community in both engineering and industry.
The conventional electrical units are quasi-natural in the sense that they are
completely and exactly defined in terms of fundamental physical constants. They
are the first set of measurement units to be defined in this way, and as such,
represent a significant step towards using "natural" fundamental physics for
practical measurement purposes. However, the conventional electrical units are
unlike other systems natural units in that some physical constants are not set
to unity but rather set to fixed numerical values that are very close (but not
precisely the same) to those in the common SI system of units.
Four significant steps were taken in the last half century to increase the
precision and utility of measurement units. In 1967 the Thirteenth General
Conference on Weights and Measures defined the second of atomic time in the

International System of Units as the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the

radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of
the ground state of the cesium-133 atom. In 1983, the seventeenth CGPM redefined
the metre in terms of the second and the speed of light, thus fixing the speed
of light at exactly 299,792,458 m/s. And in 1990, the eighteenth CGPM adopted
conventional values for the Josephson constant and the von Klitzing constant,
fixing the conventional Josephson constant at exactly 483,597.9 109 Hz/"V",
and the conventional von Klitzing constant at exactly 25 812.807 "" (again,
these volts and ohms are not precisely the same as the SI definitions but very
nearly equivalent).
Contents [hide]
1 Definition
2 Conversion to SI units
3 Comparison with natural units
4 References

[edit] Definition
Conventional electrical units are based on defined values of the Josephson
constant and the von Klitzing constant, which allow practical measurements of
electromotive force and electrical resistance respectively.
ConstantConventional (defined) value
(CIPM, 1988)Empirical value (in SI units)
(CODATA, 2006)
Josephson constantKJ90 = 483 597.9 GHz/V90KJ = 483 597.891(12) GHz/V
von Klitzing constantRK90 = 25 812.807 90RK = 25 812.807 557(18)
The conventional volt, V90, is the electromotive force (or electric potential
difference) measured against a Josephson effect standard using the defined
value of the Josephson constant, KJ90.
The conventional ohm, 90, is the electrical resistance measured against a
quantum Hall effect standard using the defined value of the von Klitzing
constant, RK90.
Other conventional electrical units are defined by the normal physical
relationships, as in the conversion table below.

[edit] Conversion to SI units

UnitDefinitionSI equivalent (CODATA 2006)
conventional voltsee aboveV90 = (KJ90/KJ) V = [1 + 1.9(2.5) 108] V
conventional ohmsee above90 = (RK/RK90) = [1 + 2.159(68) 108]
conventional ampereA90 = V90/90A90 = [1 0.3(2.5) 108] A
conventional coulombC90 = A90s = sV90/90C90 = [1 0.3(2.5) 108] C
conventional wattW90 = A90V90 = V902/90W90 = [1 + 1.6(5.0) 108] W
conventional faradF90 = C90/V90 = s/90F90 = [1 2.159(68) 108] F
conventional henryH90 = 90sH90 = [1 + 2.159(68) 108] H
[edit] Comparison with natural units
See also: Natural units
Conventional electrical units can be thought of as a scaled version of a system
of natural units defined as
having consequence:
This is a more general (or less specific) version of either the particle physics
"Natural units" or the quantum chromodynamical system of units but that no unit
mass is fixed. Like n.u. or QCD units, with conventional electrical units any
observed variation over space or time in the value of the fine-structure
constant, , is attributed to variation in the Coulomb constant or vacuum
permittivity or, since the speed of light, c, is fixed, as a variation in the
vacuum permeability.
The following table provides a comparison of conventional electrical units with
other natural unit systems:
Quantity / SymbolPlanckStoneySchrdingerAtomicElectronicConventional
Electrical Units
speed of light in vacuum
Planck's constant
reduced Planck's constant
elementary charge

Josephson constant
von Klitzing constant
characteristic impedance of vacuum
electric constant (vacuum permittivity)
magnetic constant (vacuum permeability)
Newtonian constant of gravitation
electron mass
caesium ground state hyperfine
transition frequency
[edit] References
Mohr, Peter J.; Taylor, Barry N.; Newell, David B. (2008). "CODATA Recommended
Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants: 2006". Rev. Mod. Phys. 80:
633730. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.80.633.
Retrieved from ""
Categories: Electromagnetism | Systems of units
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