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How the length of a wire affects its resistance Aim The aim of my coursework is to measure the change in the

resistance of a wire as the length is altered. Variables There are a number of variables that could affect the resistance of a wire. For example:• Length – the length of a wire is the independent variable that we are going to change. This was chosen as my independent variable because it was easy to change, and it made it easy to see how a direct change affected the resistance. It was easy to keep other variables constant while changing the length, which meant that my results were more accurate. If I had used thickness of wire, I may have mixed up different materials, so the results would not have been accurate. • Temperature – this is atmospheric and depends on which room you are in. If it is slightly warmer then the particles in the wire may have more energy and so they move more, meaning that the particles would collide more, and hit the edges of the wire more frequently, so the resistance would increase. However, the influence of the room temperature on the experiment is minimal because it does not change dramatically. • Current – if you increase the current through the wire too much, it may heat up and therefore change the resistance. This factor can link into the safety of the experiment. If you increase the current dramatically, the wire will heat up to dangerous temperatures and cause burning. • Wire thickness – the thickness of a wire may affect the resistance. If the wire is thicker in one test than in another, then the resistance will decrease because there is more room for the particles to move around in. • Wire material – the type of wire can also affect resistance, as differences in the make-up of it can either increase the resistance or decrease it. Particles may be smaller or larger, or more or less densely packed. During my experiment, this will be kept constant, as NC26 • Wire shape – kinks in the wire may increase resistance by making it harder for particles to move through them, e.g. it is more difficult for them to go through a hairpin bend than through a straight wire. ______________________________ _________________________ ____________________ _____ Thin Wire – High Resistance ______________________________ Thick Wire – Low Resistance Electron

Particle These diagrams show how the thickness of a wire affect the resistance, showing that the thicker the wire, the more space the electrons and particles have to move down the wire. This means that they are not squashed, so there is less friction, and resistance. However, in the thinner wire, the electrons and particles are closer together, so will encounter more resistance. Fair Test To ensure that the experiment is a fair test it is important to choose one variable you are going to change(the independent variable), in this case the length, and not change any of the others, apart from the resistance, which is dependant on the length of the wire. You can then control the other variables. For the current through the wire, you can alter the voltage to keep the current the same. You can control wire thickness and material by always using the same wire and the same wire type. The wire can be kept straight by taping one end to a ruler and pulling the other so that the kinks are flattened out. Prediction I would predict that the resistance of the wire will increase as the length of the wire increases. This is because as the length increases the electrons have further to move to go through the wire, and so encounter greater resistance, as they collide with more particles. When the particles collide, energy is lost in the collision, so the resistance increases. __________________ _________________________________ __________________ Short Wire – Less particles Apparatus Ruler For measuring length of wire, wire clipped on at each end, crocodile clips moved along to reach desired length Wire Nickel-Chrome 26 Ammeter To measure current – constant at 1amp Voltmeter To measure voltage _________________________________ Long Wire – More particles

Power Supply Allowed to change the power output to keep the current constant at 1 amp. Tape To hold wire on at each end of ruler. Leads To connect parts of circuit. Crocodile clips To connect wire to rest of circuit.

The voltmeter will measure the voltage across the wire, and the ammeter will measure the current in the wire. I will put the results into a table and then use them to work out the resistance using the formula R=V. This will then tell me whether the resistance has I

increased with the increase in distance, and show any patterns in the data. I will ensure valid results by repeating the tests 4 times, as this will alert me if there is more than one anomalous result. To ensure that I have accurate results, and that I can clearly see patterns in data, I will conduct tests every 5cm, and repeat each length 4 times.


1. Set up the apparatus as shown in the diagram. However, tape the
test wire to a ruler and then simply move crocodile clips along from a certain point to ensure that the wire is not only straight, but that the wire des not have to be cut, so that measurements can easily be repeated using the same piece of wire. This will make the experiment more efficient. + -


Ammeter V Voltmeter Variable Resistor


+ Power Supply Parallel Circuit Ruler


2. Once the equipment is set up, start with the clips at a length of
5cm. 3. Adjust the power supply so that the ammeter reads 1amp. 4. Record the measurements displayed on the voltmeter. 5. Repeat for each 5cm interval.

Preliminary Experiment I did a preliminary experiment to decide which type of wire I wanted to use for the main experiment. I tested three types of wire before deciding to use NC26. I decided not to use the other wires because they either gave too great a range in results, or too small a range. I think this was crucial to my experiment because it helped me to find several changes to my initial method. I chose to use NC26 over other wires because there were safety risks. In one case, a type of wire began to heat up and melt when the current went above 3amps. Constantan Length / cm 100 90 20 10 Wire Voltage / V 4.15 3.96 1.30 0.84 Current / A 0.50 0.52 0.78 0.95 Current / A 1.14 1.12 1.13

Copper Wire Length / Voltage / cm V 100 0.51 50 0.42 90 0.45

Nickel Chrome Wire- NC26 Length / Voltage / Current / cm V A 20 0.73 3.01 40 0.61 4.34 60 0.45 5.05 80 0.35 5.42 100 0.29 5.54 From these results, I chose to use Nickel Chrome wire, because it seemed to be the safest material, that would not over-heat, but that would still give accurate and readable results.

Final Results Wire Type – NC26

Current (amps) is constant of 1 Amp.

Repeat 1 Repeat 2 Repeat 3 Repeat 4 Voltag Resista Voltag Resistan Voltag Resistanc Voltag Resistan Length of Wire e nce e ce e e e ce (cm) (volts) (ohms) (volts) (ohms) (volts) (ohms) (volts) (ohms) 100 4.43 4.43 4.41 4.41 4.43 4.43 4.45 4.45 95 4.19 4.19 4.21 4.21 4.21 4.21 4.21 4.21 90 3.93 3.93 3.97 3.97 3.95 3.95 3.97 3.97 85 3.76 3.76 3.78 3.78 3.75 3.75 3.77 3.77 80 3.5 3.5 3.51 3.51 3.52 3.52 3.54 3.54 75 3.3 3.3 3.33 3.33 3.35 3.35 3.31 3.31 70 3.08 3.08 3.1 3.1 3.12 3.12 3.12 3.12 65 2.87 2.87 2.88 2.88 2.87 2.87 2.89 2.89 60 2.64 2.64 2.66 2.66 2.67 2.67 2.66 2.66 55 2.45 2.45 2.42 2.42 2.43 2.43 2.43 2.43 50 2.2 2.2 2.21 2.21 2.2 2.2 2.21 2.21 45 2 2 2 2 2.01 2.01 2.01 2.01 40 1.78 1.78 1.76 1.76 1.81 1.81 1.8 1.8 35 1.6 1.6 1.54 1.54 1.59 1.59 1.56 1.56 30 1.37 1.37 1.32 1.32 1.35 1.35 1.32 1.32 25 1.14 1.14 1.12 1.12 1.15 1.15 1.14 1.14 20 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.92 0.92 0.91 0.91 15 0.66 0.66 0.67 0.67 0.71 0.71 0.69 0.69 10 0.46 0.46 0.49 0.49 0.48 0.48 0.47 0.47 5 0.23 0.23 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25 Analysis The graph shows the line y=mx, which suggests that resistance is directly proportional to length of wire. This is also supported by the fact that for each increase in length of wire, the resistance increase is the same. For each 5cm increase, there was a constant 0.20 increase in resistance. All of my results show this, which would suggest that there is no limit to the pattern. The graph also supports my prediction that the resistance of the wire will increase as the length of the wire increases. However, in my prediction, I did not think that they would be directly proportional, as I thought there might be an end to the relationship at a certain length. I can also analyse the graph by its gradient, by calculating the change in y, divided by the change in x. Because my results are quite constant, I can take the reading from anywhere along my line of best fit, and I should get the correct gradient. From one section of my graph, marked by vertical and horizontal lines meeting below the line of best fit, I read that the change in y was 1, and that the change in x was 24, so the gradient worked out at or 0.416. I can also use my graph to prove that resistance and length of wire are directly proportional, by doubling one of the variables, and seeing if it doubles the other. To do this, I read off where the length of wire was equal to 20cm, and the resistance was equal to 0.90. If my prediction was correct, when the length of wire was equal to 40cm, the resistance should be equal to roughly 1.60. I read off at 40cm, and the resistance was equal to around 1.75.

Average Resistanc e (ohms) 4.43 4.21 3.96 3.77 3.57 3.32 3.11 2.88 2.66 2.43 2.21 2.01 1.79 1.57 1.34 1.14 0.91 0.68 0.48 0.25

Equations To calculate the resistance, I used the equation mentioned earlier, R= . However, because the current was a constant variable, which I kept at 1amp throughout the experiment, it was not necessary to use this equation, because the voltage divided by 1 will always equal the original voltage. This meant that during my experiment, the voltage was equal to the resistance. To work out the averages over my 4 retests, I simply took the mean of the results, by adding the total of the four tests, and dividing it by 4. This gave me the average result. Conclusion I conclude that the length of wire is directly proportional to the resistance. As length increases, resistance increases. I can conclude this because I have confidence in my results, that my tests were fair and that the results I gathered are accurate. I believe that my results and my conclusion are correct.

Evaluation Procedure I think that during my investigation, there were both positive and negative points in my methods. I think one improvement made from my preliminary work was the introduction of the ruler, to keep the wire straight, and to ensure that measuring the wire was simple and effective. This also made the results more accurate, because it made it easier to measure the correct length of wire. One of the other points that I feel could have been improved in my method was adjusting the power supply to output the correct amps. Because this was a constant, I tried to keep it at 1 amp. Reliability of Results I think that my results have shown to be quite accurate for several reasons, including the fact that many of the retest results were very close, and in some cases, all four retests came out as nearly the same values. One example of this was at 45cm, where there was only a 0.01v difference in the readings. This would suggest that the results were correct because it would be unlikely to have anomalous results while conducting four retests.

Another reason for believing the results is that the difference in readings between lengths is almost constant. As the length increased by 5cm, the voltage rose by 0.20v every time. This would suggest that the resistance is directly proportional to the length of the wire. I can also judge the accuracy of my results by the number of outliers that were observed during the experiment and any possible reasons for them. During my testing, I did not see any outliers, and all retests were within 0.05v of each other, suggesting that the retests were very accurate and that no anomalous results were measured in this experiment. I can also prove this hypothesis from my graph which does not show any skewed points. Improvements The method could be improved by using a straighter wire. This would mean that there was less artificial resistance from kinks and bends in the wire, and that the measurements could be taken to a smaller decimal point, so the calculated resistance would be more precise. I would have done this by not using a re-used wire, I could have used a new piece of wire. To improve my knowledge of the effect of length on the resistance of a wire I could repeat the experiment using different thicknesses, different types of wire and different metals, to see if there is a difference in how they react. This would show me whether the metal alloy used in the wire has a major effect on the resistance of it, or whether it is the thickness that is most important. In an extended investigation I would keep the measurements I took the same – voltage and current, and use the same equation to work out the resistance. I would also keep the distances I took the measurements at the same, and the number of repeats. The only difference in my method would be that I would take the results from one type of wire, the repeat the experiment with two different types of wire. This would give me enough evidence to prove whether the metal content of the wire affected the relationship between length and resistance in a major way. I think that to improve my experiment, I could have used more accurate means of measuring the voltage, because using the equipment I had, I could only measure to two decimal places using the voltmeter. I think this could have been an important change, because some of my repeats gave me very similar results, and being able to measure to 3 decimal places would have allowed me to distinguish between repeats.