In material science, there is the various classification of all matter in consideration of various important features. Some of the key modes of classification are in relation to electrical conductivity, heat conductivity, magnetism, level of permeability to water or fluids, compressional and tensional strength, ductility, and malleability among others. Today we shall look at one of those modes of classification and that is electrical conductivity.
What is a conductor?
Dynamic electricity does not flow through all materials. The ability of a material to convey or relay electric current is termed electrical conductivity. The materials that allow the flow of electrical current are called good conductors while those that do not are referred to as poor conductors. Between these two extremes stands semi-conductors that are neither good nor poor.
Why is this so in materials? The electric current is the flow of charges, which are free electrons from negatively charged sources to positively charged ends. A good conductor allows the flow of these electrons and it may have has its own free electrons. Electrons are the tiniest particle in material and are usually negatively charged. The key to note is that there are no perfect conductors, instead, the level of conductivity varies over a wide range depending on the atomic and molecular structure of materials. The number of free electronics per atom determines the conductivity degree in that the more there is the higher and vice versa.
Carriers of Electric Current
Through numerous tests, it has been established that silver is the best conductor of electricity, followed by copper, gold, aluminum in that order. In the industry however you will find many conductors are made of copper and aluminum, this is because of the scarcity of silver and gold, which are rare metals hence expensive. Generally speaking, all metals are good conductors of electricity, liquids range from good to poor while gases are poor conductors. One special liquid worth noting is water, the most abundant material on earth, it’s a good conductor. This means when a live (material with electric charges) gets into contact with any conductor the material becomes live and if it connected to a low voltage potential point, the current will flow. Electric current flows from a high potential point to a low potential point through a conductor. In your home or business, electricity is supplied from a generator through conducting wires or cables to socket outlets. Given that water is a conductor, everything that has water is a good conductor, all living things (plants and animals) are conductive. Take care not to touch a bear conductor carrying current with any of your body parts.
Poor conductors are equally very important in manufacturing cables, they are insulators that isolate the conductor from the reach of other conductors such as you (your body), water, livestock, birds, and the like. All current-carrying conductors should be insulated properly, for overhead cables air is used as an insulator, take care not to touch them, or no conductors link you to them.
Though you are a good conductor, electricity is harmful to your body and can easily kill you. With this basic understanding of conductors, it’s my hope that you have been enlightened. You are a good conductor but hey don’t celebrate instead take care.