Resistance of Wire

Topics: Ohm's law, Metal, Electric current Pages: 7 (1788 words) Published: March 21, 2006

Set p the equipment as shown on the diagram.
One meter length of wire is fixed to a one meter ruler. The first crocodile clip is clipped to the wire at the 0cm position on the one meter ruler. The second crocodile clip is clipped to the 10cm position. The power supply is turned on. The voltage and current are then read of the ammeter and voltmeter, and recorded. The power supply is then turned off and the second crocodile clip is moved to the 20cm position. Then the power supply is turned and you record the readings from the ammeter and voltmeter. Then you turn the power off and move the clip to the next position, you do that until you get to 90cm then you stop. After you do that, it is best to repeat the same thing from the beginning at least three time to get fair and accurate results.


Current can easily pass through a piece of copper connecting wire. It does not pass trough as easily in a thin nichrome wire of an electric fire element. This wire has much more resistance. Energy has to be spent to force electrons through it. And heat comes off as a result.

All conductors have some resistance but:
Long wires have more resistance than the short wires. Thin wires have more resistance than thick wires.
Nichrome wire has more resistance than copper wire of the same size.

Resistance is calculated using this equation:


The unit of resistance is the ohm

Here is an example:

If there is a voltage of 12 volts across this nichrome, then a current of 4 amperes flows through. So: 12
Resistance = ohms

= 3 ohms

If there is a voltage of 12 volts across this piece of nichrome, then a current of 2 amperes flows through.

So: 12
Resistance = ohms

= 6 ohms

The higher the resistance, less current flows for each volt across the wire.

Like electric fires, kettles and hairdryers have heating elements made from coils of thin nichrome wire. The wire gives off heat when a current passes through. But that isn't their job. In some circuits , they are used to reduce the current. In radio or TV circuits they keep currents and voltages at the levels needed to make other parts work properly. In a variable resistors there is sliding contact which moves along a coil of nichrome wire. By moving the contact you can change the resistance. Variable resistors like this are used as volume control in TV's and radio's and also in computer joysticks.

A piece of metal consist of positive metal ions and free electrons. The free electrons are the outermost electrons which break free when the metal atoms form ions. Free electrons move about between the metal ions from being driven apart by repulsion between their positive charges.

The metallic bond explains how metals conduct electricity. It also explains how metals can change their shape without breaking. When a metal is bent the shape changes but the free electrons continue to hold the metal ions together.

Ohm's Law

The current flowing through a conductor is proportional to the potential difference across it, provided the physical conditions remain constant. V is the potential difference (voltage), I the current.

The value V/I is the resistance R of the conductor and is a constant. Ohmic or linear conductors
Materials that follow Ohm's Law are often called ohmic conductors or linear conductors. A graph of the current and voltage of an ohmic conductor is a straight line through the origin. In the graph above the gradient is equal to 1/R. Metals and alloys follow Ohm's Law. Carbon is a non-metal that also follows Ohm's Law. For most other materials the resistance is not a constant and changes with the applied voltage. Physical Conditions

Note that Ohm's Law only applies (i.e. the resistance is a constant) provided that the physical...
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