Chapter 27
Current and Resistance
Introduction to chapter 25
• In this chapter we will start the study of charges in motion.
• ELECTRIC CURRENT consists of charges in motion from one
region to another
• ELECTRIC CIRCUIT is a closed loop conducting path through
which charges (i.e. el. current) move.
• In electric circuits, ENERGY is conveyed from one place to
• Conveying energy of a battery to emit light in flashlight
• Conveying energy from power lines to power heater and produce heat
• Elevator’s motion, computers, bulbs, home appliances, cell phones,
nerve cells
Electric Current
Electric current is the rate of flow of charge through some region of space.
The SI unit of current is the ampere (A).
 1A=1C/s
(The symbol for electric current is I.)
Average Electric Current
Assume charges are moving
perpendicular to a surface of area A.
If ΔQ is the amount of charge that
passes through A in time Δt, then the
average current is
I a vg 
Instantaneous Electric Current
If the rate at which the charge flows varies with time, the instantaneous current, I,
is defined as the differential limit of average current as Δt→0.
I 
v = 106 ms
E = 0 in a conductor in electrostatic equilibrium
Free electric charge (electrons) move randomly in all
directions (sharp changes due to collisions)  no net
flow of charge in any directions  NO CURRENT
If static electric field E is established in the conductor, all
free charges (electrons) move under the force
F = q ¢E
vd = 10¡
There are collisions with massive ions that slow them
As a result, there is net motion or DRIFT of charges in the
direction of force  NET CURRENT IN CONDUCTOR
vd is an average speed called the drift speed.
Current is the net charge moving through the area per unit time.
I =
= [1A
Direction of Current
The charged particles passing through the surface could be positive,
negative or both.
Conventionally, direction of current is direction of flow of positive charge.
This is regardless of the sign of the actual charged particles in motion.
It is common to refer to any moving charge as a charge carrier.
EXAMPLE: In a common conductor (like copper), the current is due to the
motion of negatively charged electrons. In this case direction of current
is opposite to the direction of flow of electrons.
Direction of current is always from the higher potential to lower, the same
as the direction of electric field E.
Consider positive and negative charges moving horizontally
through the four regions shown in Figure 27.4. Rank the
current in these four regions from highest to lowest.
Figure 27.4
(b) > (c) >(d) > (a)
(c) > (b) > (a) > (d)
(d) > (b) = (c) > (a)
(a) > (b) = (c) > (d)
Current and Motion of Charged Particles
I = n ¢jqj ¢vd ¢A
n – density of charge carriers
|q| - amount of charge carried by charge in
vd – drift velocity of moving charges
A – cross-sectional area of conductor
j – density of current
j =
Problem 27.4.
In the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom, an electron in the lowest energy state
moves at a speed of 2.19e6 m/s in a circular path of radius 5.29e-11 m. What
is the effective current associated with this orbiting electron?
A current density j and an electric field are established in a conductor whenever a
potential difference is maintained across the conductor.
For some materials, the current density is directly proportional to the field.
The constant of proportionality, σ, is called the conductivity of the conductor.
The inverse of the conductivity is the resistivity:
 ρ=1/σ
Resistivity has SI units of ohm-meters (Ω . m)
When charges (electrons) move in a conductor under the influence of electric
field E (i.e. current), they collide with positive (nearly fixed) ions, that slow
them down. This property is called RESITISTIVITY .
Resistivity depends on the properties of material, and it is
for a given material.
In a given conductor of cross-sectional area A and length L, the resistance to
current is defined as:
= [1 ] (ohm)
- electric resistivity of conducting material
L – length of conductor
A – cross-section of conductor
IMPORTANT: the direction of current is
ALWAYS from higher potential end to lower
potential end  E field points in the directio
of decreasing electric potential!
A cylindrical wire has a radius r and length ℓ.
If both r and ℓ are doubled, the resistance of
the wire:
1. increases.
2. decreases.
3. remains the same.
Most electric circuits use circuit
elements called resistors to control the
current in the various parts of the
Stand-alone resistors are widely used.
 Resistors can be built into
integrated circuit chips.
Values of resistors are normally
indicated by colored bands.
 The first two bands give the first
two digits in the resistance value.
 The third band represents the
power of ten for the multiplier band.
 The last band is the tolerance.
Section 27.2
Resistor Color Code Example
Red (=2) and blue (=6) give the first two digits: 26
Green (=5) gives the power of ten in the multiplier: 105
The value of the resistor then is 26 x 105 Ω (or 2.6 MΩ)
The tolerance is 10% (silver = 10%) or 2.6 x 105 Ω
Section 27.2
Resistivity Values
Section 27.2
Georg Simon Ohm
1789 -1854
German physicist
Formulated idea of resistance
Discovered the proportionalities now
known as forms of Ohm’s Law
Section 27.2
Ohm’s Law
For large class of materials, voltage V is directly proportional to the current I:
V = I ¢R
Ohm’s law is only valid for certain materials whose resistance DOES NOT
depend on voltage applied.
A circuit device with specific value of resistance R between ends is called
Resistance and Resistivity, Summary
Every ohmic material has a characteristic resistivity that depends on the
properties of the material and on temperature.
 Resistivity is a property of substances.
The resistance of a material depends on its geometry and its resistivity.
 Resistance is a property of an object.
An ideal conductor would have zero resistivity.
An ideal insulator would have infinite resistivity.
Section 27.2
Electrical Power
Assume a circuit as shown
The entire circuit is the system.
As a charge moves from a to b, the
electric potential energy of the system
increases by QV.
 The chemical energy in the battery
must decrease by this same
This electric potential energy is
transformed into internal energy in the
 Corresponds to increased
vibrational motion of the atoms in
the resistor
Section 27.6
Electric Power, 2
The resistor is normally in contact with the air, so
its increased temperature will result in a transfer of
energy by heat into the air.
The resistor also emits thermal radiation.
After some time interval, the resistor reaches a
constant temperature.
 The input of energy from the battery is
balanced by the output of energy by heat and
The rate at which the system’s potential energy
decreases as the charge passes through the
resistor is equal to the rate at which the system
gains internal energy in the resistor.
The power is the rate at which the energy is
delivered to the resistor.
Energy and power in Electric Circuits
If charge q passes through a circuit element from
higher potential Vb to lower potential Va, its
electric potential energy decreases.
The time rate at which energy is either delivered or
extracted from circuit element is called POWER.
P = Vba ¢I
If the circuit element has fixed resistance R (like a
P = Vba ¢I = I ¢R =
Units: I is in A, R is in Ω, ΔV is in V, and P is in W
Vba = Vcd
For the two light bulbs shown in
Figure 27.13, rank the current
values at points a through f from
greatest to least.
Figure 27.13
Ia = Ib > Ic = Id > Ie = If
I c > Id > I e > I f > I a > I b
Ic = Id > Ia = Ib > Ie > If
Ia = Ib > Ic > Id > Ie > If
Electric Power Transmission
Real power lines have resistance.
Power companies transmit electricity at high voltages and low currents to
minimize power losses.
Problem 27.37.
An 11 W energy efficient fluorescent light bulb is designed to produce the same
illumination as a conventional 40 W incandescent light bulb. Assuming a cost
of $0.11 /kWh for energy from the electric company, how much money does
the user of the energy-efficient bulb save during 100 h of use?
Example 27.1.
The 12-gauge copper wire in a typical residential building has a cross-sectional
area of 3.31e-6 m2. It carries a constant current of 10 A. What is the drift
speed of the electrons in the wire? Assume each copper atom contributes one
free electron to the current. The density of copper is 8.92 g/cm3.