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Ivan Cronin 2009

AS Unit 2, Part 3

Electrical Quantities

Atoms consist of, among other particles, protons and electrons, which have the property of charge, and give rise to electrical forces. Historically, the charge on the proton was called positive, while that on the electrons was designated negative. Most of the time objects have equal numbers of protons and electrons, and we do not observe electrical forces. Only when charges move in some way does there effect become apparent. The first effect is that like charges repel, unlike charges attract. These effects are easily demonstrated in electrostatic experiments.

Electric current is defined as the rate of flow of charge the quantity of charge flowing past a given point in one second. I = Q / t

Current is measured in amperes (A), and is defined in terms of the force that a 1A current creates. Electric charge is measured in coulombs (C). This is quantity of charge that passes when a current of 1 A flows for 1 s.

1. How much charge flows through the filament of an electric lamp in 1 hour when the current in it is 250 mA? 2. The charge on the electron is 1.6 10-19 C. How many electrons flow through the filament in this time?
Ivan Cronins AS Physics Electrical Quantities

The amount of charge that passes is also the area under the current / time graph

Current / A

Time / s 3. Name three quantities encountered in the course so far that have the same relationship.

For electric current to flow, a complete circuit is needed. Current flows as a continuous chain of electrons around the circuit.

In an electric circuit, energy enters the circuit at one point, and leaves it at another. As it does so, energy transfers occur at different points in the circuit. By convention, electric current flows in the direction of the flow of positive charge (this convention is due to a wrong guess by Benjamin Franklin). Electrons flow in the opposite direction to current. Electric current is measured using and ammeter. The ammeter is always placed in series in the circuit.

4. Draw a circuit diagram to show a bulb and a motor in series with a battery of three cells. Include an ammeter to measure the current through the motor. Add labelled arrows to the diagram to show the direction of conventional current and the direction of electron flow.

Ivan Cronins AS Physics

Electrical Quantities

Potential difference can be explained using the reservoir analogy.

The flow on the left, from the lake to the reservoir, is similar to the energy change that takes place inside a battery. The reservoir is the point where the current leaves the battery. The flow from the reservoir to the lake is similar to the flow of current around the circuit. The electrical energy transferred to the current passes through the components of the circuit, where their energy is converted. For example, electrical energy is converted to heat and light energy in a bulb; electrical energy is converted to kinetic energy in a motor. Potential difference is a measure of the energy converted by a component or a section of a circuit. Its symbol is V. A potential difference of one volt exists between two point in a circuit if 1 J is converted when 1 C flows between them. V = W/Q voltage = energy transferred / charge passed

The unit of potential difference is the volt (V). The voltage (potential difference) between two points is measured in a circuit by connecting a voltmeter in parallel with the points. A voltmeter must take some current in order to operate. In order to keep this to a minimum, a voltmeter should have a very high resistance.

5. What is the S.I. unit of potential difference? 6. A current of 12.5 A that is flowing through the element of an electric kettle transfers 540 kJ of energy in 3 minutes. a) How much charge passes through the element in these three minutes? b) What is the potential difference across the ends of the element? 7. A 12 V pump for a fountain in a garden pond can pump water up to a height of 0.8 m at a rate of 4.8 L per minute.
Ivan Cronins AS Physics Electrical Quantities

a) How much work does the pump do per minute when raising the water to a height of 0.8 m? (You may assume that 1 L of water has a mass of 1 kg.) b) If the pump is 75% efficient, how much charge passes through the pump motor in one minute? c) How much current does the motor take when operating under these conditions?

Electrons move around a circuit under the influence of an electric field. This is similar to the north pole of one magnet being drawn towards the south pole of another magnet under the influence of a magnetic field. In the early days of electrical research, it was believed that a force caused the electrons to move, and was called the electromotive force. The electron moves because it is attracted towards the positive end of the battery (or other power source). The e.m.f. is actually a measure of the energy transferred to the electrons, a so has the same units as voltage.

The power supply of a circuit with a fixed power source can be made to vary using a rheostat. A rheostat can be used either to control the current in a circuit, or to vary the potential difference. In the latter case, it is said to be a potential divider. Rheostats manufactured specifically for this purpose are called potentiometers. The rheostat can be placed into the circuit in series, or we can form a potential divider circuit (three connectors on the rheostat). Both variations can be used to alter the current and potential difference of the circuit.

8. Set up the two circuits just described, using a 1.5 V cell, an ammeter, a bulb, a voltmeter across the bulb, and a rheostat. Move the rheostat through its full range. What do you notice about readings for current and potential difference in both circuits?
Ivan Cronins AS Physics Electrical Quantities

Ohm discovered that for metals at a constant temperature, the current in the metal is proportional to the potential difference across it.

9. A 3V potential divider circuit is connected to a resistance board. The circuit is switched on, and the rheostat is varied. Readings for current and potential difference are taken for regular intervals of potential difference. The result were as follows:

V/V I/ mA

0.00 0

0.50 28

1.00 54

1.50 83

2.00 108

2.50 138

3.00 163

Plot a graph of I against V. What can you deduce about the relationship between I and V from your graph? If, in the experiment above, the nichrome resistance wire is replaced by a tungsten filament lamp, and the graph produced is not a straight line, but a flattening curve. The tungsten filament does not obey Ohms law. In this case, we cannot calculate resistance from the gradient, but from R = I/V using discreet values of I and V. The characteristic I-V curve can also be plotted for a semi-conductor diode. The arrow in the symbol indicates the direction of forward bias. In reverse bias, no detectable current flows.

The resistance of an electrical component is a measure of its opposition to electric current flowing in it. Resistance is caused by collisions of the electrons with the vibrating lattice ions, as the electrons drift through the material of the conductor. Resistance is defined by the equation: R = V/I

Ivan Cronins AS Physics

Electrical Quantities

The unit of resistance is the ohm (). A conductor has a resistance of 1 if a potential difference of 1 V across it produces a current of 1 A through it. Ohms law states that, at constant temperature, the current in a metal is proportional to the potential difference across it. Any electrical component for which the current is proportional to the voltage is said to be ohmic. Ohmic conductors produce straight-line produce I-V graphs. Non-ohmic resistors produce I-V graphs of a variety of shapes.

The resistance of a uniform conductor depends on its length, l, its crosssectional area, A, and the resistivity of the material from which the conductor is made: R = l / A

10. What is the potential difference across a 22 k resistor when the current in it is 50 A? 11. An experiment is carried out to determine if nichrome wire obeys Ohms law. A variable resistor is adjusted and the values of the current and potential difference were recorded: V/V I / mA 0.00 0 0.50 28 1.00 54 1.50 83 2.00 108 2.50 138 3.00 163

a) Draw a graph of current against voltage for these data. b) Determine whether nichrome wire obeys Ohms law. c) Use your graph to determine the resistance of the nichrome wire.

Just like mechanical power, electrical power is the rate of doing work. V = W/Q W = QV W / t = QV / t W / t = (Q / t) V P = IV

12. An X-ray operates at 50 kV. The maximum beam current is specified as 1.0 mA. What is the maximum safe power? 13. An electric iron is marked as 240 V, 1.8 kW. What is the current in the heater filament under normal operating conditions?
Ivan Cronins AS Physics Electrical Quantities

The unit of electrical power is the watt (W), just like mechanical power. Its S.I. unit is J s-1. When a charge flows through a resistor, work is done on the resistor. Power is said to dissapate in a resistor, is it increases the random kinetic energy of the atoms of the P = IV V = IR I = V/R P = I (IR) P = I2R

material of the resistor.

P = (V/R) V

P = V2 / R

The power equation can also be used to calculate the work done, W, by an electrical component over a time t: P = IV P t = I V t W = I V t

14. A manufacturer indicates that the maximum safe power for a particular range of resistors is 250 mW. What is the maximum safe current for a 47 k resistor from this range? 15. An electric filament lamp is rated at 240 V, 60 W. a) What is the current in the filament? b) What is the resistance of the filament? 16. At the instant the lamp is switched on, its resistance is 80 . At this instant, what is a) the current in the filament? b) the power dissipated in the filament? 17. The current passing through a filament bulb is 250 mA when the potential difference across it is 2.2 V. How much electrical energy is converted into thermal and light energy in one minute?

The resistance of a wire can be investigated using a resistance board and a multimeter. 18.3 Resistance measurements are made at regular intervals, and a graph of R against l is drawn. 10 Opposite are two graphs for 32 swg and 30 swg nichrome wire.

R/ 20 13.9

Ivan Cronins AS Physics

Electrical Quantities

They are both straight line graphs through the 1 l/m origin, therefore R is proportional to l.


The ratio of the areas of cross-section of the two wires is: A30 / A32 = ( (0.5 0.3150)2) / ( (0.5 0.2743)2) = 1.32 The ratio of the resistances of 1 metre of each wire is: R30 / R32 = 13.9 / 18.3 = 1 / 1.32 These results demonstrate that resistance and cross-sectional area are inversely proportional. R = l / A

where is the resistivity of the material. Work out the S. I. Unit of resistivity.


19. Use the information in the graph to calculate the resistivity of 32 swg nichrome. 20. A carbon chip of resistivity 3.0 10-5 m has dimensions 10 mm by 5 mm by 1 mm. Current passes through the chip in the direction of the longest side. a) Draw a diagram of the situation. b) Calculate the chips resistance to current in this direction. The resistivity of a metal increases significantly with temperature, and therefore does not obey Ohms law. The resistance of a filament at its normal operating temperature (~ 3000 K) is some ten times greater than when it is off i.e. at room temperature. This gives rise to a momentary surge of current when a lamp is first switched on, and explains why the lamp heats up so quickly (see questions 4 and 5). When the temperature of the metal is raised, the amplitude of the lattice ions increases, which increases the impedance of the flow of electrons. In terms of the drift velocity equation, I = nAvq, A and q are constant for a given wire. For a metallic conductor, n does not depend on temperature, and so n is also constant. As the temperature rises, the increases vibrations will reduce the drift velocity, v, of the electrons and so I will decrease i.e. resistance increases with temperature.

21. In an experiment to investigate the change in resistivity of a metallic conductor with temperature, 2 metres of enamelled 34 swg copper wire was wound around a plastic tube and emersed in a water bath. The temperature of the wire was raised from 20 C to 100 C, and the resistance was measured at regular intervals of temperature using a voltmeter / ammeter method. The results were as follows: / C
Ivan Cronins AS Physics





100 8

Electrical Quantities

V/ mV I / mA R/

114 143

122 142

130 141

137 140

144 139

Complete the table by adding values of R, and plot a graph of R against , choosing your scales carefully. The graph conforms to the equation R = R0 (1 + ) , where R0 is the resistance at 0 C, and is the temperature coefficient of resistivity. Show that has a value of about 4 10-3 K-1 for copper. Resistivity has the opposite relationship to temperature in a special semiconductor called a thermistor. In a semiconductor, an increase in temperature can provide extra energy to release more charge carriers. In terms of I = n A v q, this means that n increases with temperature. A and q are constant for a semiconductor, just as for a metal. There is a relatively small decrease in v compared to the exponential increase in n, and so the overall effect is an increase in I, showing that resistivity decreases with temperature.

22. In a experiment to investigate the effect of temperature on the resistance of a thermistor, the thermistor is connected to an ohmmeter and placed in a beaker of crushed ice. The beaker is heated up and readings of resistance are taken every 10 C, up to 100 C. The results are as follows: / C R/ 20 706 30 491 40 350 50 249 60 179 70 135 80 105 90 87 100 74

Plot a graph of R against . What deductions can you make from the shape of the curve?

In order for current to flow in a material, suitable charge carriers must be present in the material loosely bound electrons in metals, ions in electrolytes, etc. In a metallic conductor, there is approximately one free electron per atom. These electrons delocalise within the crystal lattice at up to 0.1% the speed of light. When a potential difference is applied to a circuit, an electric field is created and exerts a force on the free electrons, and causes them to drift in the direction of the force. The electrons would continuously accelerate if they did not continuously collide with the by now positively charged ions of the lattice.
Electrical Quantities

Ivan Cronins AS Physics

The force due to the electric field and the force due to the collisions balance out. The electrons move with a constant drift velocity, which gives rise to a constant current. For a given conductor, this current is given by: I = nAvq where I is the current, A is the cross-sectional area of the conductor, n is the number of charge carriers per cubic metre, q is the charge on each charge carrier, and v is the drift velocity of the charge carriers.

Consider that the volume of charge carriers passing any point in one second is vA. The number of charges passing in one second is therefore nvA and, if each carries a charge q, the charge passing in 1 s is nvAq. By definition, this is the current.

23. A filament lamp is connected to a 1.5 V battery. The diameter of the tungsten filament is 0.025 mm and the diameter of the copper connecting leads is 0.72 mm. Calculate the drift velocity of the electrons in a) the filament b) the connecting leads when the circuit current is 160 mA (W: n = 4.0 1028 m-3; Cu: n = 8.0 1028 m-3).

A superconductor is a conductor which exhibits zero resistivity. The superconducting property of a material is seen only at temperatures below the materials critical value, Tc. This temperature is normally close to absolute zero. Not all materials become superconductors. For example, even at temperatures close to absolute zero, copper exhibits some resistance. High temperature superconductors are those that show superconductivity at temperatures above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen (77 K). Liquid nitrogen can be produced cheaply from air, and so the discovery of high temperature superconductors make superconductivity economically viable. A persistent current can be made to flow on the surface of a superconductor. The current effectively turns the superconductor into an electromagnet, which can repel a permanent magnet and cause it to levitate above it. This is the principle behind maglev trains, which can travel at up to 581 km hr-1.
Electrical Quantities

Ivan Cronins AS Physics


Ivan Cronins AS Physics

Electrical Quantities