Electric current II. Except in a superconductor

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1 Electric current Charges in motion: Count positive charges going from left to right Add negative charges going from right to left Subtract all charges moving in the opposite direction Divide by time => I = Δq net / Δt Typically occurs inside conducting medium (wires etc.); also discharges (lightning) Analog: water flowing through a pipe Doesn t require any NET charge, only different motion of different charges Unit: Ampere [A] = Coulomb/second [C/s]

2 Electric current II Electrical currents require work: *) Charges keep bumping into each other and the lattice of positively charged atoms making up a conductor This heats up the conductor (lightbulb, heater, resistor) This heat energy must come from somewhere! Analog: water flowing through a pipe: you need a pressure difference to keep the water flowing => Voltage difference! (Analog to pressure difference) The more resistance you have in the pipe, the more you have to push to make a current flow: V = RI *) Except in a superconductor

3 Resistance R is the resistance of a piece of conductor Measured in Ω = V/A (Ohm) Ohm s law: I = V/R R increases with the length of the conductor and decreases with the cross section; for most metals it INCREASES with temperature Example: Electric shock - it s the Amperes that kill you Summary: Because a conductor has resistance R, a voltage V is required to push a current I through For the same reason, electrical energy is converted into heat The higher the voltage AND the higher the current, the more energy can be converted to heat per second -> Power = I x V Watt [W] = Volt x Ampere [VA] This energy has to come from SOMEWHERE

4 Voltage Sources Electric field alone doesn t suffice Due to imbalance in charges Current flow will try to even out that imbalance Eventually everything will come to a halt (no field inside conductor) Analog: Water flowing between two reservoirs until both have same height => Pump = device that can move charges AGAINST an electric field and thereby maintain a voltage difference. Examples: Batteries Van de Graph generators Fuel cells Solar panels Electromagnetic generators (later)

5 AC/DC In a real conductor, there are 3 types of motions in play: Extremely fast thermal motion (10 6 m/s, but random) Even faster message transmission via E (all electrons move in near lockstep) Net displacement of electrons over time at a snail s pace (0.05 mm/s) => current DC current: direction of motion stays the same - electrons keep pushing through like cars on I-64 at rush hour AC current: direction reverses frequently (e.g. back and forth in 1/60 of a second) -> no single electron ever makes the roundtrip

6 Circuits Water can flow out of a reservoir for a while, but then the reservoir has to be replenished Electric current cannot be maintained for any extended time without constantly replenishing the charge -> CIRCUITS! *) Simplest form: Closed loop Battery, wire, lamp Battery, wire, several lamps in series Same current flows through all pieces, voltage changes in steps Can have several branches (like estuary) -> parallel circuit Current splits up between different branches, nodes at fixed voltage *) Example: charging capacitor - works only for a SHORT time

7 Series Circuit Q: What happens if switch is open?

8 Series Circuit Q: What happens if switch is open? A: Nothing - circuit must be closed Q: Which light bulb burns brightest?

9 Series Circuit Q: What happens if switch is open? A: Nothing - circuit must be closed Q: Which light bulb burns brightest? A: All 3 have the same brightness Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out?

10 Series Circuit Q: What happens if switch is open? A: Nothing - circuit must be closed Q: Which light bulb burns brightest? A: All 3 have the same brightness Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out? A: All 3 go dim Q: Would 2 bulbs burn brighter or dimmer than 3?

11 Series Circuit Q: What happens if switch is open? A: Nothing - circuit must be closed Q: Which light bulb burns brightest? A: All 3 have the same brightness Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out? A: All 3 go dim Q: Would 2 bulbs burn brighter or dimmer than 3? A: Brighter! Because the total R would be smaller, I = V/R through each bulb would be larger.

12 Q: What happens if switch is closed? Parallel Circuit

13 Parallel Circuit Q: What happens if switch is closed? A: Third bulb goes on, the other two remain unchanged Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out?

14 Parallel Circuit Q: What happens if switch is closed? A: Third bulb goes on, the other two remain unchanged Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out? A: Nothing happens to the other two Q: Are 3 bulbs in series brighter or 3 bulbs in parallel?

15 Parallel Circuit Q: What happens if switch is closed? A: Third bulb goes on, the other two remain unchanged Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out? A: Nothing happens to the other two Q: Are 3 bulbs in series brighter or 3 bulbs in parallel? A: 3 bulbs in parallel - each individually sees the full voltage from the battery and can draw a larger current. Q: How much more current does the battery have to supply for 3 parallel bulbs vs. 3 bulbs in series?

16 Parallel Circuit Q: What happens if switch is closed? A: Third bulb goes on, the other two remain unchanged Q: What happens if one light bulb burns out? A: Nothing happens to the other two Q: Are 3 bulbs in series brighter or 3 bulbs in parallel? A: 3 bulbs in parallel - each individually sees the full voltage from the battery and can draw a larger current. Q: How much more current does the battery have to supply for 3 parallel bulbs vs. 3 bulbs in series? A: 9 times!

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