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Chapter 2

Form 5


Understanding charges

Figure 1: A flow charges forms an

electric current

The Van de
generator is
used to

From activity above, we know that an

electric current is caused by a flow of
electric charge.
In general, we define
current as the rate of flow of electric
Current = Charge

The SI unit of
(a) current : ampere (A)
(b) charge : coulomb (C)

A current in a circuit is 1 ampere if the charge is

flowing at the rate of 1 coulomb per second.
By rearranging the formula I = Q/t, we obtain:
Q = It
1C = 1A x 1s = 1As
Thus, a coulomb is the charge which passes any pont
in a circuit when a steady current of 1 ampere is
flowing in 1 second.

How many electron to make up 1 coulomb?

The charge in an electron, e = - 1.6 x 10 9 C
If N electron make up 1 C of charge, then:
Number of electrons,N x charge in an electron,e =Total charge,Q
N x e = 1

Therefore, 6.25 x 10 18 electrons are required to make up 1

coulomb of charge.
If a current of 1 A is flowing on a point in a circuit, it means 6.25
x 10 18 electrons pass through that point in 1 second!

Electric current is measured by

using an ammeter, a milliammeter
or a micrometer

To measure the current passing through a light

bulb, an ammeter is connected in series with
the light bulb, with its positive terminal (use a
wire in red colour) connected to the positive
terminal of the battery as shown in figure

Direction of an electric current

A circuit is a closed loop through

which charges can continuously
(a) External circuit: The path
taken by the charges outside
the cell or the battery.
(b) Internal circuit : The path
within the cell or the battery.

The electromotive force of the

cell or battery causes the
negatively-charged electrons
to flow from negative terminal
to the positive terminal
through the wires.
* The direction of a current in the
external circuit is from the positive
terminal of an electric cell or battery
to the negative terminal.

The interaction of forces are reduced when the

distance between the charged bodies are
increased, and vice versa if the charges are
close each other.

Electric Field Lines

An electric field pattern is represented by electric
field lines.
The electric field lines show the direction of
electrostatic forces experienced by the two opposite
charges (or electrodes) in an electric field.
Electric field lines are directed from the positive
electrode (positive charge) to the negative electrode
(negative charge).
The electric field lines do not cross each other.
The closer the electric fields lines, the stronger the
electrostatic forces. Furthermore, the electric field
lines neither branch off nor intersect one another.

Aim: To study electric field lines for different
arrangements of charges.
Hypothesis: The pattern of electric field lines
changes as the shape of electrodes changes.

(a) Manipulated : Shape of electrodes
(b) Responding : Pattern of electric fields
(c) Fixed
: potential difference of
Apparatus / Materials
Glass dish, metal electrodes, high voltage
supply, connecting wires, olive oil and
semolina powder or grass seed.

1. The apparatus is set up as shown in figure
2. A glass dish is filled with olive oil until the pair
of electrodes is completely below the oil
3. Semolina powder is dispersed evenly on the
surface of the oil.
4. The high voltage supply is switched on.
5. The voltage is increased until a pattern of the
electric field become visible.
6. Other pattern of electric field are observed
using electrodes of different shapes such as
spheres, planes or combination of shapes.

1. When the high voltage supply is switched on, the
semolina powder on the oil surface become
aligned in the direction of electric field and thus
maps out the electric field lines.
2. Figure below shows some patterns of the electric
field using different types of electrodes.

1. Olive oil is used because it is an insulator
which does not conduct electricity. This
enables a very high voltage to be maintained
across the two electrodes.
2. The semolina powder aligns itself along the
electric lines of force due to the action of
electric field.
An electric field exists in the space surrounding
a charged body. The pattern of the electric
lines of force depends on the shape and the
number of charged objects.

(a) Single positively

charged sphere

(b) Single negatively

charged sphere

A positively charged
sphere and a negatively
charged sphere.
The two opposite
charges attract each
(Opposite charge: attract)
Two positively charged
The two similar charges
repel each other.
(Like charge : repel)

A positively charged plate

and a negatively charged
A uniform electric field
except at the sides.
A positively charged plate
and a positively charged
A neutral point at the

A negatively charged
sphere and a negatively
charged plate.
A neutral point between
charged sphere and
charged plate.
A positively charged
sphere and a negatively
charged plate.
A non-uniform electric

Electric Current and Potential Difference

The potential difference, V between points A and B

can be defined as the work done in moving a unit
charge from B to A in an electric field.
Potential difference = work done
V = W

The potential difference between two points

is 1 volt if 1 joule of work is required to
move a charge of 1 coulomb from one point
to the other.
1 volt =
1 joule
1 coulomb
1V = 1 J C
* For example, when 1 V is applied across a
light bulb, 1 J of electrical energy is
converted to heat and light when 1 C of
charge flow passes through the light bulb,
that is 1 V = 1 J C

Since work done is converted to other forms of

energy, the definition can be rephrased as

Potential difference can be measured by using a

voltmeter or millivoltmeter which is
connected in parallel across the two points.

The voltmeter is
connected in
parallel with the

The differences between an ammeter and a

voltmeter in a circuit

The difference in the pressure of water, represented by the

height of the water column.
The larger difference in the pressure of water causes a
higher rate of flow.
What is the relationship between the electric current flow in
a conductor and the electric potential difference across the
In 1826, George Simon Ohm, a German physics teacher
found relationship between V and I.
The relationship named Ohms Law.

The relationship can also be represented by a graph as shown

in figure below.
Conductor with V-I
Graphs which are linear
and pass through the
origin obey Ohms Law
and are said to be
Ohmic conductors.
* Other materials which do not obey Ohms law are called nonohmic conductors.


or V A

Formulae from the factors affect

From the factors affect resistance, the following can be

Example: Silver is a very good conductor with a very low

resistivity, .

A Dutch physicist, Heike
Kammerlingh Onnes
discovered in 1911 that when
mercury is cooled to 4.15 K
(or -269 C), its resistance is
the lowest (almost zero) and
becomes a perfect
conductor (or a

For a metal, its resistance decreases at its

temperature decreases.
At very low temperature called the critical
temperature Tc, its resistance approaches zero and
the phenomenon of superconductivity is said to

Table shows some element

with their critical
These materials offer no
resistance to flow of current
and act as perfect
conductors with
zero resistivity.
Once the current is
set up in these
materials, it needs
no applied voltage
to persist flowing
without any loss.

The application of superconductivity

The high current flow in the conductor generates a

very strong magnetic field.
This causes strong magnetic repulsion.
Applications of superconductors
(a) inventions of Maglev train
(b) strong accelerator in nuclear research
c) Magnetic resonance Imaging (MRI). MRI is used as
diagnostic tool in medicine.
(d) Computer chip which are faster and of smaller size.
* Scientists are still finding alternative of superconducting
materials which have higher critical temperature
because the operating cost of superconductivity at
very low temperature is not economically viable.

When a ball falls through a
cylindrical cardboard from a
position of higher
gravitational potential
energy, work is being done by
the gravitational field. Hence,
the man needs to do work
by carrying the ball back to a

position of higher gravitational

potential energy so as to
repeat the process again.

Similarly, an electric current flows from

a higher electric potential (+ terminal)
to a lower electric potential (- terminal)
as shown in figure above.
In this case, electric energy is converted
to light energy and energy loss due to
heat dissipated.
The battery has an electromotive force
(e.m.f.) which is able to drive the electric
charges throughout the circuit.


total energy supplied by a cell to move a unit of

charge through the complete circuit.


Internal resistance (r)

Graph V against I

Power Rating

The label shows that the fan heater

(a) works at a voltage of 220 V
(b) it consumes an electrical power of
2000W (or 2000 joule per second)


An immersion heater is more

suitable to boil a cup of coffee
the immersion heater has a
lower rating.
The kettle is more suitable to boil a
larger volume of water.
A small room normally has an airconditioner of 1 horse power (hp)
rather than 2.5 hp which wastes
electrical energy and cools the room
The air-conditioners should have the
thermostat system to switch off and
switch on the air-conditioners
automatically so as to control the
temperature of the room.