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Ohm's law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points. Introducing the constant of proportionality, the resistance,^{ [1] } one arrives at the usual mathematical equation that describes this relationship:^{ [2] }
where I is the current through the conductor in units of amperes, V is the voltage measured across the conductor in units of volts, and R is the resistance of the conductor in units of ohms. More specifically, Ohm's law states that the R in this relation is constant, independent of the current.^{ [3] } If the resistance is not constant, the previous equation cannot be called Ohm's law, but it can still be used as a definition of static/DC resistance.^{ [4] } Ohm's law is an empirical relation which accurately describes the conductivity of the vast majority of electrically conductive materials over many orders of magnitude of current. However some materials do not obey Ohm's law, these are called non-ohmic.
The law was named after the German physicist Georg Ohm, who, in a treatise published in 1827, described measurements of applied voltage and current through simple electrical circuits containing various lengths of wire. Ohm explained his experimental results by a slightly more complex equation than the modern form above (see § History below).
In physics, the term Ohm's law is also used to refer to various generalizations of the law; for example the vector form of the law used in electromagnetics and material science:
where J is the current density at a given location in a resistive material, E is the electric field at that location, and σ (sigma) is a material-dependent parameter called the conductivity. This reformulation of Ohm's law is due to Gustav Kirchhoff.^{ [5] }
In January 1781, before Georg Ohm's work, Henry Cavendish experimented with Leyden jars and glass tubes of varying diameter and length filled with salt solution. He measured the current by noting how strong a shock he felt as he completed the circuit with his body. Cavendish wrote that the "velocity" (current) varied directly as the "degree of electrification" (voltage). He did not communicate his results to other scientists at the time,^{ [6] } and his results were unknown until Maxwell published them in 1879.^{ [7] }
Francis Ronalds delineated "intensity" (voltage) and "quantity" (current) for the dry pile—a high voltage source—in 1814 using a gold-leaf electrometer. He found for a dry pile that the relationship between the two parameters was not proportional under certain meteorological conditions.^{ [8] }^{ [9] }
Ohm did his work on resistance in the years 1825 and 1826, and published his results in 1827 as the book Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet ("The galvanic circuit investigated mathematically").^{ [10] } He drew considerable inspiration from Fourier's work on heat conduction in the theoretical explanation of his work. For experiments, he initially used voltaic piles, but later used a thermocouple as this provided a more stable voltage source in terms of internal resistance and constant voltage. He used a galvanometer to measure current, and knew that the voltage between the thermocouple terminals was proportional to the junction temperature. He then added test wires of varying length, diameter, and material to complete the circuit. He found that his data could be modeled through the equation
where x was the reading from the galvanometer, l was the length of the test conductor, a depended on the thermocouple junction temperature, and b was a constant of the entire setup. From this, Ohm determined his law of proportionality and published his results.
In modern notation we would write,
where is the open-circuit emf of the thermocouple, is the internal resistance of the thermocouple and is the resistance of the test wire. In terms of the length of the wire this becomes,
where is the resistance of the test wire per unit length. Thus, Ohm's coefficients are,
Ohm's law was probably the most important of the early quantitative descriptions of the physics of electricity. We consider it almost obvious today. When Ohm first published his work, this was not the case; critics reacted to his treatment of the subject with hostility. They called his work a "web of naked fancies"^{ [11] } and the German Minister of Education proclaimed that "a professor who preached such heresies was unworthy to teach science."^{ [12] } The prevailing scientific philosophy in Germany at the time asserted that experiments need not be performed to develop an understanding of nature because nature is so well ordered, and that scientific truths may be deduced through reasoning alone.^{ [13] } Also, Ohm's brother Martin, a mathematician, was battling the German educational system. These factors hindered the acceptance of Ohm's work, and his work did not become widely accepted until the 1840s. However, Ohm received recognition for his contributions to science well before he died.
In the 1850s, Ohm's law was known as such and was widely considered proved, and alternatives, such as "Barlow's law", were discredited, in terms of real applications to telegraph system design, as discussed by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1855.^{ [14] }
The electron was discovered in 1897 by J. J. Thomson, and it was quickly realized that it is the particle (charge carrier) that carries electric currents in electric circuits. In 1900 the first (classical) model of electrical conduction, the Drude model, was proposed by Paul Drude, which finally gave a scientific explanation for Ohm's law. In this model, a solid conductor consists of a stationary lattice of atoms (ions), with conduction electrons moving randomly in it. A voltage across a conductor causes an electric field, which accelerates the electrons in the direction of the electric field, causing a drift of electrons which is the electric current. However the electrons collide with and scatter off of the atoms, which randomizes their motion, thus converting the kinetic energy added to the electron by the field to heat (thermal energy). Using statistical distributions, it can be shown that the average drift velocity of the electrons, and thus the current, is proportional to the electric field, and thus the voltage, over a wide range of voltages.
The development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s modified this picture somewhat, but in modern theories the average drift velocity of electrons can still be shown to be proportional to the electric field, thus deriving Ohm's law. In 1927 Arnold Sommerfeld applied the quantum Fermi-Dirac distribution of electron energies to the Drude model, resulting in the free electron model. A year later, Felix Bloch showed that electrons move in waves (Bloch electrons) through a solid crystal lattice, so scattering off the lattice atoms as postulated in the Drude model is not a major process; the electrons scatter off impurity atoms and defects in the material. The final successor, the modern quantum band theory of solids, showed that the electrons in a solid cannot take on any energy as assumed in the Drude model but are restricted to energy bands, with gaps between them of energies that electrons are forbidden to have. The size of the band gap is a characteristic of a particular substance which has a great deal to do with its electrical resistivity, explaining why some substances are electrical conductors, some semiconductors, and some insulators.
While the old term for electrical conductance, the mho (the inverse of the resistance unit ohm), is still used, a new name, the siemens, was adopted in 1971, honoring Ernst Werner von Siemens. The siemens is preferred in formal papers.
In the 1920s, it was discovered that the current through a practical resistor actually has statistical fluctuations, which depend on temperature, even when voltage and resistance are exactly constant; this fluctuation, now known as Johnson–Nyquist noise, is due to the discrete nature of charge. This thermal effect implies that measurements of current and voltage that are taken over sufficiently short periods of time will yield ratios of V/I that fluctuate from the value of R implied by the time average or ensemble average of the measured current; Ohm's law remains correct for the average current, in the case of ordinary resistive materials.
Ohm's work long preceded Maxwell's equations and any understanding of frequency-dependent effects in AC circuits. Modern developments in electromagnetic theory and circuit theory do not contradict Ohm's law when they are evaluated within the appropriate limits.
Ohm's law is an empirical law, a generalization from many experiments that have shown that current is approximately proportional to electric field for most materials. It is less fundamental than Maxwell's equations and is not always obeyed. Any given material will break down under a strong-enough electric field, and some materials of interest in electrical engineering are "non-ohmic" under weak fields.^{ [15] }^{ [16] }
Ohm's law has been observed on a wide range of length scales. In the early 20th century, it was thought that Ohm's law would fail at the atomic scale, but experiments have not borne out this expectation. As of 2012, researchers have demonstrated that Ohm's law works for silicon wires as small as four atoms wide and one atom high.^{ [17] }
The dependence of the current density on the applied electric field is essentially quantum mechanical in nature; (see Classical and quantum conductivity.) A qualitative description leading to Ohm's law can be based upon classical mechanics using the Drude model developed by Paul Drude in 1900.^{ [18] }^{ [19] }
The Drude model treats electrons (or other charge carriers) like pinballs bouncing among the ions that make up the structure of the material. Electrons will be accelerated in the opposite direction to the electric field by the average electric field at their location. With each collision, though, the electron is deflected in a random direction with a velocity that is much larger than the velocity gained by the electric field. The net result is that electrons take a zigzag path due to the collisions, but generally drift in a direction opposing the electric field.
The drift velocity then determines the electric current density and its relationship to E and is independent of the collisions. Drude calculated the average drift velocity from p = −eEτ where p is the average momentum, −e is the charge of the electron and τ is the average time between the collisions. Since both the momentum and the current density are proportional to the drift velocity, the current density becomes proportional to the applied electric field; this leads to Ohm's law.
A hydraulic analogy is sometimes used to describe Ohm's law. Water pressure, measured by pascals (or PSI), is the analog of voltage because establishing a water pressure difference between two points along a (horizontal) pipe causes water to flow. Water flow rate, as in liters per second, is the analog of current, as in coulombs per second. Finally, flow restrictors—such as apertures placed in pipes between points where the water pressure is measured—are the analog of resistors. We say that the rate of water flow through an aperture restrictor is proportional to the difference in water pressure across the restrictor. Similarly, the rate of flow of electrical charge, that is, the electric current, through an electrical resistor is proportional to the difference in voltage measured across the resistor.
Flow and pressure variables can be calculated in fluid flow network with the use of the hydraulic ohm analogy.^{ [20] }^{ [21] } The method can be applied to both steady and transient flow situations. In the linear laminar flow region, Poiseuille's law describes the hydraulic resistance of a pipe, but in the turbulent flow region the pressure–flow relations become nonlinear.
The hydraulic analogy to Ohm's law has been used, for example, to approximate blood flow through the circulatory system.^{ [22] }
In circuit analysis, three equivalent expressions of Ohm's law are used interchangeably:
Each equation is quoted by some sources as the defining relationship of Ohm's law,^{ [2] }^{ [23] }^{ [24] } or all three are quoted,^{ [25] } or derived from a proportional form,^{ [26] } or even just the two that do not correspond to Ohm's original statement may sometimes be given.^{ [27] }^{ [28] }
The interchangeability of the equation may be represented by a triangle, where V (voltage) is placed on the top section, the I (current) is placed to the left section, and the R (resistance) is placed to the right. The divider between the top and bottom sections indicates division (hence the division bar).
Resistors are circuit elements that impede the passage of electric charge in agreement with Ohm's law, and are designed to have a specific resistance value R. In schematic diagrams, a resistor is shown as a long rectangle or zig-zag symbol. An element (resistor or conductor) that behaves according to Ohm's law over some operating range is referred to as an ohmic device (or an ohmic resistor) because Ohm's law and a single value for the resistance suffice to describe the behavior of the device over that range.
Ohm's law holds for circuits containing only resistive elements (no capacitances or inductances) for all forms of driving voltage or current, regardless of whether the driving voltage or current is constant (DC) or time-varying such as AC. At any instant of time Ohm's law is valid for such circuits.
Resistors which are in series or in parallel may be grouped together into a single "equivalent resistance" in order to apply Ohm's law in analyzing the circuit.
When reactive elements such as capacitors, inductors, or transmission lines are involved in a circuit to which AC or time-varying voltage or current is applied, the relationship between voltage and current becomes the solution to a differential equation, so Ohm's law (as defined above) does not directly apply since that form contains only resistances having value R, not complex impedances which may contain capacitance (C) or inductance (L).
Equations for time-invariant AC circuits take the same form as Ohm's law. However, the variables are generalized to complex numbers and the current and voltage waveforms are complex exponentials.^{ [29] }
In this approach, a voltage or current waveform takes the form Ae^{st}, where t is time, s is a complex parameter, and A is a complex scalar. In any linear time-invariant system, all of the currents and voltages can be expressed with the same s parameter as the input to the system, allowing the time-varying complex exponential term to be canceled out and the system described algebraically in terms of the complex scalars in the current and voltage waveforms.
The complex generalization of resistance is impedance, usually denoted Z; it can be shown that for an inductor,
and for a capacitor,
We can now write,
where V and I are the complex scalars in the voltage and current respectively and Z is the complex impedance.
This form of Ohm's law, with Z taking the place of R, generalizes the simpler form. When Z is complex, only the real part is responsible for dissipating heat.
In a general AC circuit, Z varies strongly with the frequency parameter s, and so also will the relationship between voltage and current.
For the common case of a steady sinusoid, the s parameter is taken to be , corresponding to a complex sinusoid . The real parts of such complex current and voltage waveforms describe the actual sinusoidal currents and voltages in a circuit, which can be in different phases due to the different complex scalars.
Ohm's law is one of the basic equations used in the analysis of electrical circuits. It applies to both metal conductors and circuit components (resistors) specifically made for this behaviour. Both are ubiquitous in electrical engineering. Materials and components that obey Ohm's law are described as "ohmic"^{ [30] } which means they produce the same value for resistance (R = V/I) regardless of the value of V or I which is applied and whether the applied voltage or current is DC (direct current) of either positive or negative polarity or AC (alternating current).
In a true ohmic device, the same value of resistance will be calculated from R = V/I regardless of the value of the applied voltage V. That is, the ratio of V/I is constant, and when current is plotted as a function of voltage the curve is linear (a straight line). If voltage is forced to some value V, then that voltage V divided by measured current I will equal R. Or if the current is forced to some value I, then the measured voltage V divided by that current I is also R. Since the plot of I versus V is a straight line, then it is also true that for any set of two different voltages V_{1} and V_{2} applied across a given device of resistance R, producing currents I_{1} = V_{1}/R and I_{2} = V_{2}/R, that the ratio (V_{1} − V_{2})/(I_{1} − I_{2}) is also a constant equal to R. The operator "delta" (Δ) is used to represent a difference in a quantity, so we can write ΔV = V_{1} − V_{2} and ΔI = I_{1} − I_{2}. Summarizing, for any truly ohmic device having resistance R, V/I = ΔV/ΔI = R for any applied voltage or current or for the difference between any set of applied voltages or currents.
There are, however, components of electrical circuits which do not obey Ohm's law; that is, their relationship between current and voltage (their I–V curve) is nonlinear (or non-ohmic). An example is the p–n junction diode (curve at right). As seen in the figure, the current does not increase linearly with applied voltage for a diode. One can determine a value of current (I) for a given value of applied voltage (V) from the curve, but not from Ohm's law, since the value of "resistance" is not constant as a function of applied voltage. Further, the current only increases significantly if the applied voltage is positive, not negative. The ratio V/I for some point along the nonlinear curve is sometimes called the static, or chordal, or DC, resistance,^{ [31] }^{ [32] } but as seen in the figure the value of total V over total I varies depending on the particular point along the nonlinear curve which is chosen. This means the "DC resistance" V/I at some point on the curve is not the same as what would be determined by applying an AC signal having peak amplitude ΔV volts or ΔI amps centered at that same point along the curve and measuring ΔV/ΔI. However, in some diode applications, the AC signal applied to the device is small and it is possible to analyze the circuit in terms of the dynamic, small-signal, or incremental resistance, defined as the one over the slope of the V–I curve at the average value (DC operating point) of the voltage (that is, one over the derivative of current with respect to voltage). For sufficiently small signals, the dynamic resistance allows the Ohm's law small signal resistance to be calculated as approximately one over the slope of a line drawn tangentially to the V–I curve at the DC operating point.^{ [33] }
Ohm's law has sometimes been stated as, "for a conductor in a given state, the electromotive force is proportional to the current produced." That is, that the resistance, the ratio of the applied electromotive force (or voltage) to the current, "does not vary with the current strength ." The qualifier "in a given state" is usually interpreted as meaning "at a constant temperature," since the resistivity of materials is usually temperature dependent. Because the conduction of current is related to Joule heating of the conducting body, according to Joule's first law, the temperature of a conducting body may change when it carries a current. The dependence of resistance on temperature therefore makes resistance depend upon the current in a typical experimental setup, making the law in this form difficult to directly verify. Maxwell and others worked out several methods to test the law experimentally in 1876, controlling for heating effects.^{ [34] }
Ohm's principle predicts the flow of electrical charge (i.e. current) in electrical conductors when subjected to the influence of voltage differences; Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier's principle predicts the flow of heat in heat conductors when subjected to the influence of temperature differences.
The same equation describes both phenomena, the equation's variables taking on different meanings in the two cases. Specifically, solving a heat conduction (Fourier) problem with temperature (the driving "force") and flux of heat (the rate of flow of the driven "quantity", i.e. heat energy) variables also solves an analogous electrical conduction (Ohm) problem having electric potential (the driving "force") and electric current (the rate of flow of the driven "quantity", i.e. charge) variables.
The basis of Fourier's work was his clear conception and definition of thermal conductivity. He assumed that, all else being the same, the flux of heat is strictly proportional to the gradient of temperature. Although undoubtedly true for small temperature gradients, strictly proportional behavior will be lost when real materials (e.g. ones having a thermal conductivity that is a function of temperature) are subjected to large temperature gradients.
A similar assumption is made in the statement of Ohm's law: other things being alike, the strength of the current at each point is proportional to the gradient of electric potential. The accuracy of the assumption that flow is proportional to the gradient is more readily tested, using modern measurement methods, for the electrical case than for the heat case.
Ohm's law, in the form above, is an extremely useful equation in the field of electrical/electronic engineering because it describes how voltage, current and resistance are interrelated on a "macroscopic" level, that is, commonly, as circuit elements in an electrical circuit. Physicists who study the electrical properties of matter at the microscopic level use a closely related and more general vector equation, sometimes also referred to as Ohm's law, having variables that are closely related to the V, I, and R scalar variables of Ohm's law, but which are each functions of position within the conductor. Physicists often use this continuum form of Ohm's Law:^{ [35] }
where "E" is the electric field vector with units of volts per meter (analogous to "V" of Ohm's law which has units of volts), "J" is the current density vector with units of amperes per unit area (analogous to "I" of Ohm's law which has units of amperes), and "ρ" (Greek "rho") is the resistivity with units of ohm·meters (analogous to "R" of Ohm's law which has units of ohms). The above equation is sometimes written^{ [36] } as J = E where "σ" (Greek "sigma") is the conductivity which is the reciprocal of ρ.
The voltage between two points is defined as:^{ [37] }
with the element of path along the integration of electric field vector E. If the applied E field is uniform and oriented along the length of the conductor as shown in the figure, then defining the voltage V in the usual convention of being opposite in direction to the field (see figure), and with the understanding that the voltage V is measured differentially across the length of the conductor allowing us to drop the Δ symbol, the above vector equation reduces to the scalar equation:
Since the E field is uniform in the direction of wire length, for a conductor having uniformly consistent resistivity ρ, the current density J will also be uniform in any cross-sectional area and oriented in the direction of wire length, so we may write:^{ [38] }
Substituting the above 2 results (for E and J respectively) into the continuum form shown at the beginning of this section:
The electrical resistance of a uniform conductor is given in terms of resistivity by:^{ [38] }
where l is the length of the conductor in SI units of meters, a is the cross-sectional area (for a round wire a = πr^{2} if r is radius) in units of meters squared, and ρ is the resistivity in units of ohm·meters.
After substitution of R from the above equation into the equation preceding it, the continuum form of Ohm's law for a uniform field (and uniform current density) oriented along the length of the conductor reduces to the more familiar form:
A perfect crystal lattice, with low enough thermal motion and no deviations from periodic structure, would have no resistivity,^{ [39] } but a real metal has crystallographic defects, impurities, multiple isotopes, and thermal motion of the atoms. Electrons scatter from all of these, resulting in resistance to their flow.
The more complex generalized forms of Ohm's law are important to condensed matter physics, which studies the properties of matter and, in particular, its electronic structure. In broad terms, they fall under the topic of constitutive equations and the theory of transport coefficients.
If an external B-field is present and the conductor is not at rest but moving at velocity v, then an extra term must be added to account for the current induced by the Lorentz force on the charge carriers.
In the rest frame of the moving conductor this term drops out because v= 0. There is no contradiction because the electric field in the rest frame differs from the E-field in the lab frame: E′ = E + v×B. Electric and magnetic fields are relative, see Lorentz transformation.
If the current J is alternating because the applied voltage or E-field varies in time, then reactance must be added to resistance to account for self-inductance, see electrical impedance. The reactance may be strong if the frequency is high or the conductor is coiled.
In a conductive fluid, such as a plasma, there is a similar effect. Consider a fluid moving with the velocity in a magnetic field . The relative motion induces an electric field which exerts electric force on the charged particles giving rise to an electric current . The equation of motion for the electron gas, with a number density , is written as
where , and are the charge, mass and velocity of the electrons, respectively. Also, is the frequency of collisions of the electrons with ions which have a velocity field . Since, the electron has a very small mass compared with that of ions, we can ignore the left hand side of the above equation to write
where we have used the definition of the current density, and also put which is the electrical conductivity. This equation can also be equivalently written as
where is the electrical resistivity. It is also common to write instead of which can be confusing since it is the same notation used for the magnetic diffusivity defined as .
An electric current is a stream of charged particles, such as electrons or ions, moving through an electrical conductor or space. It is measured as the net rate of flow of electric charge through a surface or into a control volume. The moving particles are called charge carriers, which may be one of several types of particles, depending on the conductor. In electric circuits the charge carriers are often electrons moving through a wire. In semiconductors they can be electrons or holes. In a electrolyte the charge carriers are ions, while in plasma, an ionized gas, they are ions and electrons.
An inductor, also called a coil, choke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil.
Voltage, electric potential difference, electromotive force (emf), electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points, which is defined as the work needed per unit of charge to move a test charge between the two points. In the International System of Units, the derived unit for voltage is named volt. In SI units, work per unit charge is expressed as joules per coulomb, where 1 volt = 1 joule per 1 coulomb. The old SI definition for volt used power and current; starting in 1990, the quantum Hall and Josephson effect were used, and recently (2019) fundamental physical constants have been introduced for the definition of all SI units and derived units. Voltage or electric potential difference is denoted symbolically by ∆V, simplified V, or U, for instance in the context of Ohm's or Kirchhoff's circuit laws.
An electric field is the physical field that surrounds electrically-charged particles and exerts force on all other charged particles in the field, either attracting or repelling them. It also refers to the physical field for a system of charged particles. Electric fields originate from electric charges, or from time-varying magnetic fields. Electric fields and magnetic fields are both manifestations of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.
In electrical engineering, electrical impedance is the measure of the opposition that a circuit presents to a current when a voltage is applied.
In electronics and electromagnetism, the electrical resistance of an object is a measure of its opposition to the flow of electric current. The reciprocal quantity is electrical conductance, and is the ease with which an electric current passes. Electrical resistance shares some conceptual parallels with the notion of mechanical friction. The SI unit of electrical resistance is the ohm, while electrical conductance is measured in siemens (S).
Electrical resistivity is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric current. Its inverse, called electrical conductivity, quantifies how well a material conducts electricity. A low resistivity indicates a material that readily allows electric current. Resistivity is commonly represented by the Greek letter ρ (rho). The SI unit of electrical resistivity is the ohm-meter (Ω⋅m). For example, if a 1 m solid cube of material has sheet contacts on two opposite faces, and the resistance between these contacts is 1 Ω, then the resistivity of the material is 1 Ω⋅m.
Thermal conduction is the transfer of internal energy by microscopic collisions of particles and movement of electrons within a body. The colliding particles, which include molecules, atoms and electrons, transfer disorganized microscopic kinetic and potential energy, jointly known as internal energy. Conduction takes place in all phases: solid, liquid, and gas.
In electric and electronic systems, reactance is the opposition of a circuit element to the flow of current due to that element's inductance or capacitance. Greater reactance leads to smaller currents for the same voltage applied. Reactance is similar to electric resistance in this respect, but differs in that reactance does not lead to dissipation of electrical energy as heat. Instead, energy is stored in the reactance, and a quarter-cycle later returned to the circuit, whereas a resistance continuously loses energy.
Inductance is the tendency of an electrical conductor to oppose a change in the electric current flowing through it. The flow of electric current creates a magnetic field around the conductor. The field strength depends on the magnitude of the current, and follows any changes in current. From Faraday's law of induction, any change in magnetic field through a circuit induces an electromotive force (EMF) (voltage) in the conductors, a process known as electromagnetic induction. This induced voltage created by the changing current has the effect of opposing the change in current. This is stated by Lenz's law, and the voltage is called back EMF.
In physics and electrical engineering, a conductor is an object or type of material that allows the flow of charge in one or more directions. Materials made of metal are common electrical conductors. Electrical current is generated by the flow of negatively charged electrons, positively charged holes, and positive or negative ions in some cases.
In physics a drift velocity is the average velocity attained by charged particles, such as electrons, in a material due to an electric field. In general, an electron in a conductor will propagate randomly at the Fermi velocity, resulting in an average velocity of zero. Applying an electric field adds to this random motion a small net flow in one direction; this is the drift.
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating electric current (AC) to become distributed within a conductor such that the current density is largest near the surface of the conductor and decreases exponentially with greater depths in the conductor. The electric current flows mainly at the "skin" of the conductor, between the outer surface and a level called the skin depth. Skin depth depends on the frequency of the alternating current; as frequency increases, current flow moves to the surface, resulting in less skin depth. Skin effect reduces the effective cross-section of the conductor and thus increases its effective resistance. Skin effect is caused by opposing eddy currents induced by the changing magnetic field resulting from the alternating current. At 60 Hz in copper, the skin depth is about 8.5 mm. At high frequencies the skin depth becomes much smaller.
The Drude model of electrical conduction was proposed in 1900 by Paul Drude to explain the transport properties of electrons in materials. Basically, Ohm's law was well established and stated that the current J and voltage V driving the current are related to the resistance R of the material. The inverse of the resistance is known as the conductance. When we consider a metal of unit length and unit cross sectional area, the conductance is known as the conductivity, which is the inverse of resistivity. The Drude model attempts to explain the resistivity of a conductor in terms of the scattering of electrons by the relatively immobile ions in the metal that act like obstructions to the flow of electrons.
Joule heating, also known as resistive, resistance, or Ohmic heating, is the process by which the passage of an electric current through a conductor produces heat.
A magnetic circuit is made up of one or more closed loop paths containing a magnetic flux. The flux is usually generated by permanent magnets or electromagnets and confined to the path by magnetic cores consisting of ferromagnetic materials like iron, although there may be air gaps or other materials in the path. Magnetic circuits are employed to efficiently channel magnetic fields in many devices such as electric motors, generators, transformers, relays, lifting electromagnets, SQUIDs, galvanometers, and magnetic recording heads.
In physics, the Wiedemann–Franz law states that the ratio of the electronic contribution of the thermal conductivity (κ) to the electrical conductivity (σ) of a metal is proportional to the temperature (T).
In electromagnetism, charge density is the amount of electric charge per unit length, surface area, or volume. Volume charge density is the quantity of charge per unit volume, measured in the SI system in coulombs per cubic meter (C⋅m^{−3}), at any point in a volume. Surface charge density (σ) is the quantity of charge per unit area, measured in coulombs per square meter (C⋅m^{−2}), at any point on a surface charge distribution on a two dimensional surface. Linear charge density (λ) is the quantity of charge per unit length, measured in coulombs per meter (C⋅m^{−1}), at any point on a line charge distribution. Charge density can be either positive or negative, since electric charge can be either positive or negative.
In electromagnetism, current density is the amount of charge per unit time that flows through a unit area of a chosen cross section. The current density vector is defined as a vector whose magnitude is the electric current per cross-sectional area at a given point in space, its direction being that of the motion of the positive charges at this point. In SI base units, the electric current density is measured in amperes per square metre.
Electromagnetism is one of the fundamental forces of nature. Early on, electricity and magnetism were studied separately and regarded as separate phenomena. Hans Christian Ørsted discovered that the two were related – electric currents give rise to magnetism. Michael Faraday discovered the converse, that magnetism could induce electric currents, and James Clerk Maxwell put the whole thing together in a unified theory of electromagnetism. Maxwell's equations further indicated that electromagnetic waves existed, and the experiments of Heinrich Hertz confirmed this, making radio possible. Maxwell also postulated, correctly, that light was a form of electromagnetic wave, thus making all of optics a branch of electromagnetism. Radio waves differ from light only in that the wavelength of the former is much longer than the latter. Albert Einstein showed that the magnetic field arises through the relativistic motion of the electric field and thus magnetism is merely a side effect of electricity. The modern theoretical treatment of electromagnetism is as a quantum field in quantum electrodynamics.
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