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Experiment #2

Resistivity

Performed by: Mario Spiroski

Laboratory Partner: Carlos Sierra

Date: 2/26/2015

Objectives1:
1. Reasons why is there resistance in a wire.
2. Know the difference between resistance and resistivity.
3. Explain how the resistivity of a material can be measured.

1 Physics Laboratory Experiments, 8th edition, Jerry D. Wilson, Cecilia A. Hernandez,


2015. Cengage Learning. Page 347
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Theory:
In this experiment the resistivity of 4 different wires is tested. The wires used in this
experiment were Nichrome, Copper and Iron. The wires were connected to a circuit consisting of
a battery, Decade box, ammeter, the wire, voltmeter, and a switch. As seen from the formula2

l
A , where the R is the resistance, l the length of the wire, and A the cross-sectional

area of the wire, the resistance would be proportional to the length of the wire and inversely
proportional to the cross-sectional area of the wire. This theory is the same as the water flow in a
pipe. The greater the cross-sectional area of the pipe, the lesser the pressure will be.
+
-

Every material has a certain resistance at a given temperature. That resistance of the
material is called resistivity which is independent of the shape of the conductor.3
R=

l
A ,

RA
l ,

R- resistance

R=

V
I ,

VA V d2
= =
Il
4 Il ,

d2
A=
4
Decade box

Ammeter
Conductor Board

resistivity
l length of wire
A cross-sectional area
V voltage
I current
d diameter of wire

Switch

2 Wilson Page 347


3 Wilson Page 347
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Data:
DATA TABLE4
Purpose: to determine the resistivities of various wires.
Wire
1

2
3

Type of
Material
Nichrome
24
Nichrome
24
Copper
Copper
Nichrome
28
Nichrome
28
Iron
Iron

Voltage
(V)
1.185

Current (A)

Diameter
(mm)
0.52

Resistivity (cm)

0.48

Length
(cm)
43

1.994

0.48

72

0.52

0.000122532

0.115
0.189
0.293

0.49
0.49
0.049

43
72
43

0.19
0.19
0.34

0.000001547
0.000001519
0.000126256

0.492

0.049

72

0.34

0.000126615

0.699
1.148

0.5
0.5

43
72

0.22
0.22

0.000012359
0.000012122

0.000121928

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Analysis:
In this experiment, the resistivity of 3 types of wire was measured. The circuit consisted of a 12V
battery, a Decade Box, an Ammeter, a conductor board, a Voltmeter, a switch, and 5 wires that
connected all of the instruments together to complete the circuit. The error in the measurement of
the resistivity ranged from 11.5% to 21.69%.
Type of Material

Accepted Value

Experimental value Percent Error (%)

Nichrome
Copper
Iron

(cm)
1.00E-04
1.72E-06
1.00E-05

(cm)
1.24E-04
1.53E-06
1.22E-05

21.69
11.50
20.15

There were 2 major sources of error in this experiment.


1. The cross-sectional area of the wires used did not have a uniform cross-sectional area
throughout the whole wire. That would mean that there is a chance that the voltage may have
been measured at a cross-sectional area of the wire that is smaller or greater than the average
cross-sectional area measured which would result in an error in the calculated resistivity5. This is

related to the equation

VA
iL .

2. The connecting wires used in the experiment to connect all of the parts of the circuit together
have resistivity too. Every material that has current flowing through it has resistivity which is the

5
http://www.academia.edu/4071345/IB_Physics_Investigation_Does_the_Cross_Sectio
nal_Area_of_a_Wire_Affect_its_Resistivity Page 16
5

property of the material.6 The resistivity from the connecting wires would have caused a higher
reading through the wires. That can be fixed if the wires were made from a materials that hve
zero resistivity, also known as superconductors.7

6 Halliday page 754


7 Halliday page 763
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Conclusion:
This experiment was performed to test the resistivity of different kinds of wires. Using a battery,
a Decade box (to control the resistance), an Ammeter (to monitor the current), a voltmeter (to
monitor the voltage), a switch, and connecting wires the experiment was performed. The
resistivity of the wires used (Nichrome, Iron, and Copper) was related to the cross-sectional area
of the wire, the length of the wire, the voltage, and the current flowing through it.8 A precise
measurement on the cross-sectional area of the wire, the length of the wire, the voltage, and the
current is needed for the resistivity to be measured. The fact that the wires did not have a uniform
cross-sectional area throughout the whole wire caused an error in the measurements to be
present. Also, the wires used to connect the circuit were not made from superconducting material
which caused the calculated resistivity to be higher than the accepted value for the wire
measured.

8 Halliday page 754


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Questions9:
1. Do the experimental data confirm that the resistance of a conductor is (a) directly
proportional to its length and (b) inversely proportional to its cross-sectional area?
Support your answers either graphically or mathematically with experimental results.

The resistance of a conductor is

R=

L
A , which says that the resistance is

proportional to the length and inversely proportional to the cross-sectional area. If


the length of the wire is increased, the resistance would increase. If the crosssectional are is increased, the resistance would reduce (like a fluid flowing in a
pipe).
2. Give a definition of resistivity in terms of voltage and current.
=

VA
iL

In this formula the resistivity is proportional to the voltage and the cross-sectional
area of the wire, and inversely proportional to the current and the length of the
wire.
3. An annealed copper wire (No. 15 AWG gauge) is to be placed with an aluminum wire
with approximately the same length and resistance. What gauge of aluminum wire would
be required?
13 gauge wire. Calculations on the supplement sheet.

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