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Current Definition

Our forefathers used fire for cooking, heating, and lighting. We have instant power today with the flip of a switch, turn of a knob, or touch of a button. Because of the electric current, this is possible. It is one of the significant discoveries that enabled us to change how we live. Our life is dependent on electricity from the moment we get up till the moment we go to sleep at night. Electric current is required for the operation of everything from the standard bread toaster and baking oven to the widely used television. Mobile phones, the most popular gadget, utilise electric current to operate by charging the battery. Electricity not only plays a significant role at home but also in businesses, transportation, and communication. Let's learn how to define electric current in this article as a crucial resource on which we rely a lot.

Current Definition

Electric current is the flow of electrons across a conductor. The SI unit for electric current is the ampere. In a substance's molecular structure, there are tiny particles called electrons. Depending on the circumstance, these electrons can be held loosely or tightly. When the nucleus is merely holding electrons loosely, they can move around freely inside the body. We refer to this flow of charges as an electric current because electrons, which are negatively charged particles, cause a number of charges to flow when they move. It should be emphasised that a substance's capacity to conduct electricity is determined by how many electrons it can move. The current can flow more easily through some materials than others. Based on their ability to conduct electricity, materials are classified as conductors or insulators.

Conductors: These materials enable unlimited electron movement between different particles. By allowing electrons to move freely, conductors make it possible to transfer charge. The flow of electrons within the conducting material or conductor generates electric current. Voltage is the term used to describe the force necessary to get the current to flow through the conductor.

Examples of conductors: Body, aqueous salt and metal solutions, such as those containing iron, silver, and gold.

The finest electrical conductor is silver.

Insulators: Insulators are materials that restrict the free movement of electrons between different types of particles. Because the insulator's particles restrict the free flow of electrons, the charge is rarely spread uniformly throughout its surface.

Insulator examples include - Glass, Wood, and Plastic.

Conditions for the current to flow in a conductor

Here, some of the prerequisites for an electric current to move through a conductor are covered. A voltage-producing energy source, such as a battery, is incorporated into the circuit. Current cannot flow because electrons lack voltage and wander aimlessly and randomly. The pressure that voltage puts on the electrons causes them to travel in a particular direction. Electrons can move across the circuit's closed conducting loop. When a switch is turned ON, a circuit is said to be closed or complete.

What is an electromotive force?

Free electrons typically move in an erratic manner. Up to a point, random mobility of the electrons will be eliminated if a force is applied to cause them to go in a specific direction. Overall progress is made in that direction. Electromotive force is the force that operates on the electrons to cause them to flow in a specific direction. Its quantity is known as voltage and is measured in volts.

Unit of electric current

Coulombs per second are used to measure electric current strength. Amperes, which are represented by the symbol A in the SI, are the unit of measurement for electrical current. One coulomb of charge travelling past a point in one second is referred to as an ampere. The electric current running through our frame is "One Ampere" if 6.241 x 1018 electrons do so in a second." The ampere unit is often used in electrical and electronic technology along with multipliers like milliamp (0.001A), microamp (0.000001A), and so forth.

In order to better understand what an electric current is and how it functions in a conductor, we can relate electricity to a water pipe. There are undoubtedly some restrictions, but they provide a fairly straightforward illustration of current and current flow. Electric current is comparable to water running through a conduit. The water is forced to flow through the pipe in that direction when pressure is applied to one end of it. How much pressure is put on the end determines how much water comes out. This pressure can be compared to the electromotive force.

Standard current flow

By moving from the positive to the negative terminal, conventional current flow depicts how positive charges would flow.

Electric Field

Electrons pass from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. Because electrons have a negative charge, they are drawn to the positive terminal because opposite charges attract.

Properties of Electric Current

Let's study about the characteristics of electric current. Electric current is a critical quantity in electrical circuits. Electricity has become so ingrained in our daily routines that it is impossible to picture life without it. Therefore, it is essential to comprehend current and its features.

  • We are aware that the movement of electrons generates electric current. Electrical energy is the labour necessary to move the electron stream. Heat, light, and other types of energy can be produced with electrical energy. For instance, heat energy is produced when electric energy is used in an iron box. In a manner similar to this, the electric energy in a lightbulb is transformed into light energy.
  • Direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) are the two forms of electric current. Direct current electricity can only flow in one direction, but alternating electricity can flow in multiple directions. Direct current is rarely used as the primary energy source in industrial settings. The majority of its applications involve low voltage, including battery charging and use in aeroplanes. Alternating current powers appliances used in both residential and commercial settings.
  • Electric current is measured in amperes. Every second, one coulomb of electric charge flowing is equal to one amp of current.
    1 ampere = 1 coulomb / 1 second
  • A positive charge would go in the direction that an electric current typically flows. From this point forward, the external circuit's current is switched to flow from the battery's positive terminal to its negative terminal.

Effects of electric current

Let's first define electric current before looking at some of its effects. There are a number of signs that can be used to determine whether a conductor is carrying current or not. The following are the most obvious indications:

1. Heating effect of electric current

We use the ironing board to crisp up and arrange our wrinkled clothing. On the basis of the current's heating effect, iron boxes operate. These heating-effect-based gadgets are widespread. Heat is produced in a conductor when an electric current passes through it.

The following equation provides the heating effect:


The time 't' for which the current flows is one aspect that affects the heating effect. A conductor produces more heat the longer the current travels through it.

  • The conductor's electrical resistance: Resistance causes a rise in the amount of heat produced.
  • The flow rate: With an increase in current, more heat is generated.

A small current will likely produce very little heat and may not even be sensed. But if the current is greater, it's feasible that a significant amount of heat is produced.

2. Magnetic effect of electric current

The development of the magnetic field is another significant impact that may be seen when an electric current passes through the conductor. When we set a compass near a wire delivering a big direct current, we can see this because the compass needle will deflect. There are several applications for the magnetic field that a current creates. The effect can be amplified and an electromagnet can be created by winding a wire around a coil.

3. Chemical effect of electric current

A solution ionises, or separates into ions, in the presence of an electric current. This is due to the fact that when an electric current flows through the solution, a chemical reaction occurs. The following effects can be seen in the solution, depending on the type of electrodes used and the composition of the solution:

  • The solution's colour changing;
  • Metallic deposits on the electrodes;
  • A gas release or the emergence of bubbles in the solution.

Electrolysis and electroplating are examples of processes that use the chemical reaction of electric current.

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