Solid - Physical Properties - Electrical


Electrical properties include conductivity, resistance, impedance and capacitance. Electrical conductors such as metals and alloys are contrasted with electrical insulators such as glasses and ceramics. Semiconductors behave somewhere in between. Whereas conductivity in metals is caused by electrons, both electrons and holes contribute to current in semiconductors. Alternatively, ions support electric current in ionic conductors.

Many materials also exhibit superconductivity at low temperatures; they include metallic elements such as tin and aluminium, various metallic alloys, some heavily doped semiconductors, and certain ceramics. The electrical resistivity of most electrical (metallic) conductors generally decreases gradually as the temperature is lowered, but remains finite. In a superconductor however, the resistance drops abruptly to zero when the material is cooled below its critical temperature. An electric current flowing in a loop of superconducting wire can persist indefinitely with no power source.

A dielectric, or electrical insulator, is a substance that is highly resistant to the flow of electric current. A dielectric, such as plastic, tends to concentrate an applied electric field within itself which property is used in capacitors. A capacitor is an electrical device that can store energy in the electric field between a pair of closely spaced conductors (called 'plates'). When voltage is applied to the capacitor, electric charges of equal magnitude, but opposite polarity, build up on each plate. Capacitors are used in electrical circuits as energy-storage devices, as well as in electronic filters to differentiate between high-frequency and low-frequency signals.

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Famous quotes containing the word electrical:

    Few speeches which have produced an electrical effect on an audience can bear the colourless photography of a printed record.
    Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl Rosebery (1847–1929)