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How do electric currents flow through metals?

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2009-09-15 22:44:22
2009-09-15 22:44:22

Electrical current doesn't work quite the way that you would think.

A simple way to describe electrical current is to imagine a straw filled with marbles. Each marble represents an electron. If you push an electron in one end of the straw, and the straw was full, a marble would exit the other end of the straw.

However, while that example gives an idea of what is going on, electricity is actually exactly the opposite of that. An electron is "pulled" out of one end of a conductor, which crates an electron "hole". An electron next to the hole moves into that empty spot, and so on and so on. So, even though you could visualize the electricity moving through the conductor as "pushing a marble", it's really "pulling one out" and marbles are moving to "fill the gap". (This is known as hole movement in electricity).

Different metals have different levels of conductivity. The conductivity refers to how easily electrons can move through the metal. The less conductivity, the more "resistance" there is. When electrons are forced through a metal that has a high resistance, heat is generated. This is why the burner on your electric stove gets hot; a lot of electricity is being pushed through a metal that has a high resistance, and therefore gets hot.

The electric flow through Metal by the move of Electrons from one place in that Metal to another place.

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