Each material is different and has its characteristics and properties. Some materials have electrically charged particles which are free to move inside them, known as free electrons. When such materials are connected to a battery or a cell, the free electrons start to move and allow electricity to pass through them. The ability of the materials to pass electricity through them is known as conductivity. Depending on the conductivity, materials are classified as conductors, insulators and superconductors.
Materials with good mobility of electrons are known as conductors and materials with less mobility of electrons are referred to as insulators. The conductor with the comparatively easy flow of electrons is classified as a good conductor of electricity. In this article, let us know the best conductor of electricity and its properties.
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What is an Electrical Conductor?
If you have to define the meaning of electrical conductors in the simplest way, they are materials that allow electricity to flow through them easily. If we compare two types of material and the first one allows a better flow of electricity through it, then that material is said to be a good conductor of electricity.
Some examples of conductors of electricity are
- Human Body
An electrical conductor allows the electric charges to flow through them easily. The property of conductors to “conduct” electricity is called conductivity. Such materials offer less opposition or “resistance” to the flow of charges. Conducting materials allows easy charge transfer because of the free movement of electrons through them.
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Types of Conductors
Most conducting materials used for practical applications are metals. For example, the wire around your house probably uses copper as conducting materials or alloys. The electric plugs have metal in them, and the internal mechanism of your electric irons also uses metals as their conducting material. This is because metals have lots of free electrons and promote mobility. Some of the best metal conductors are Silver (Ag), Copper (Cu) and Gold (Au).
The more free electrons present in a metal, the greater its conductivity. Comparatively, silver has better electrical conductivity than copper and gold. Since silver is far more expensive than copper, copper finds its application in all household appliances and circuits.
Aluminium is also one of the best conductor of electricity which has a conductivity slightly lesser than copper. It is used in the home’s internal wiring, and most commonly, it is used in combination with copper.
Silver oxide batteries are widely used in watches and hearing aids since it is light-weight and durable.
Non – Metals
There are some non-metals which are excellent conductors of electricity. For example, carbon in the form of graphite is an excellent conductor of electricity. If you see the structure of graphite, only three of the four carbon atoms are used for bonding. This leaves one electron free for bonding. However, most non-metals are not good conductors of electricity.
Conductors in their solution form are called ionic conductors. For example, saltwater is an ionic solution and is a good conductor of electricity.
Although semiconductors are not as good at conducting electricity as conductors, they still have their uses. Examples of semiconductors are Germanium (Ge) and Silicon (Si).
Properties of Electrical Conductor
A conductor exhibits the following properties in equilibrium conditions:
- A conductor always allows the movement of electrons and ions through them.
- The electric field inside a conductor is zero allowing electrons to flow within them.
- The charge density inside a conductor is zero.
- Only on the surface of the conductor do free charges exist.
- All points of a conductor are at the same potential.
Many metals are good conductors of electricity. This is the reason why parts of appliances that need to pass electricity are made of metals. The plastic covering that surrounds an electrical conductor is known as an insulator. It prevents us from getting an electric shock.
The superconductor is a material that offers no resistance to the flow of electrons and conducts electricity. The superconductivity phenomenon was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, the Dutch Physicist in 1911. Superconductors are elements or metallic alloy, when cooled below a certain threshold temperature, lose electrical resistance property and become superconductors.
Some of the best superconductors are niobium, cuprate, magnesium and diboride.
Watch the video and witness a real-life demonstration of charging by conduction
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs
What is the inverse of conductance called?
The inverse of conductance is called resistance.
State True or False: Since metals are good conductors of electricity, electric wires are made of copper wires.
List some common insulators.
Among the following, which is the best conductor of electricity?
Is wood a good conductor of electricity or a bad conductor of electricity?
Watch the video and learn more about conductors
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