# Measurement of Electrical Resistance and Ohm s Law

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1 Measurement of Electrical Resistance and Ohm s Law Objectives In this experiment, measurements of the voltage across a wire coil and the current in the wire coil will be used to accomplish the following objectives: 1. Definition of the concept of electrical resistance of matter using coils of wire as an example. 2. Demonstration of the dependence of the resistance on the length, cross-sectional area, and resistivity of the wire. 3. Demonstration of the equivalent resistance of resistors in series and in parallel arrangements. Equipment List Theory 1. Set of 5 resistors (150 Ω, 51 Ω, 220 Ω, 110 Ω, 200 Ω) 2. Ammeter (range, ma; direct current) 3. Voltmeter (range, 0-20 V; direct current) 4. Direct-current power supply (0-20 V) If a potential difference V is applied across some element in an electrical circuit, the current I in the element is determined by a quantity known as the resistance R. The relationship between these three quantities serves as a definition of the quantity resistance. This relationship, and thus the definition of R is An object that is a pure resistor has its total electrical characteristics determined by equation 1. Other circuit elements may have other important electrical characteristics in addition to resistance such as capacitance or inductance. The resistance of any circuit element, whether it has other significant electrical properties or not, is given by the ratio of voltage to current as described in equation 1. For any given circuit element, the value of this ratio may change as the voltage and current changes. Nevertheless, the ratio of V to I defines the resistance of the circuit element at that particular voltage and current. The units of resistance are thus volt/ampere, which is given the name ohm. The symbol for ohm is Ω. Certain circuit elements obey a relationship that is known as Ohm s law. For these elements, the quantity R (equal to V/I) is a constant for different values of V and thus different values of I. Therefore, in order to show that a circuit element obeys Ohm s law, it is necessary to vary the voltage V (the current I will then also vary) and observe that the ratio V/I is in fact constant. In this experiment such measurements will be performed on five different resistors to show that they do obey Ohm s law and to determine the resistance of the resistors. The resistance of any object to electrical current is a function of the material from which it is constructed, as well as the length, cross-sectional area, and temperature of the object. At constant temperature the resistance R is given by (1) 1 (2)

2 Where R is the resistance (Ω), L is the length (m), A is the cross sectional area (m 2 ), and p is a constant dependent on the material called the resistivity (Ω-m). Actually p is a function of temperature, and if the resistors that are used in this experiment heat up as a result of the current in them, this may be a source of error. Circuit elements in an electrical circuit can be connected in series or parallel. Consider the case of three resistors, R 1, R 2, and R 3, connected in series as shown in Figure 1. For resistors in series, the current is the same for all the resistors, but the voltage drop across each resistor depends on the value of the resistors. For resistors in series the equivalent resistance R e of the three resistors is given by the equation (3) Figure 1 Resistors in series. Consider the case of three resistors in parallel as shown in Figure 2. For resistors in parallel the current is different in each resistor, but the voltage across each resistor is the same. In this case the equivalent resistance R 3 of the three resistors in terms of the individual resistors is given by (4) Figure 2 Resistors in parallel. One of the objectives of this experiment will be to confirm the behavior of resistors in series and parallel which has been described above. Experimental Procedure 1. Using table 5 at the end of this lab, find the value of the resistance for each of the five resistors and record the results in Calculations Table 1 as the theoretical values for the resistance R theo. 2. Connect the ammeter A, the voltmeter V, and the power supply PS to the first resistor as shown in Figure 3. Note that the basic circuit is the power supply in series with a single resistor. In order to measure the current in the resistor, the ammeter is placed in series with it. In order to measure the voltage across the resistor, the voltmeter is placed in parallel with it. 2

3 Figure 3 Measurement of current and voltage for resistor R 1 3. Vary the current through resistor R 1 in steps of 25.0 ma up to ma. For each specified value of the current, measure the voltage across the resistor and record the values in Data Table 1. The resistors will heat up and may be damaged by allowing the current to pass through them for long periods. For this reason, measurements should be made quickly at each value of the current, and the power supply should be turned up only while measurements are actually being taken. DO NOT LEAVE THE VOLTAGE TURNED UP WHILE DECIDING WHAT TO DO NEXT! DO NOT LET THE CURRENT GO ABOVE 200 ma! 4. Repeat step 2 for each of the five resistors (for the 51 Ω resistor, the power supply might not be fine enough to allow the lowest current reading, and if this is the case, simply omit that reading). Be sure that for each resistor the ammeter is in series with that resistor and the power supply and the voltmeter is in parallel with the resistor. Record all values in Data Table Connect the first four resistors in series and measure the equivalent resistance of the combination. To accomplish this, use two values of current, 20.0 ma and 35.0 ma, and measure the value of the voltage drop for these two values of current. Record these values of voltage in Data Table 2, and from these values of voltage and current, a value for the resistance will be later calculated. 6. Measure the voltage drop across the combination of the second, third, and fourth resistors in series for the current values of 25.0 ma and 50.0 ma and record in Data Table Connect R 1 and R 2 in parallel as shown in Figure 4. Measure the voltage drop across the combination for current values of 50.0 ma and 100 ma and record in Data Table 2 for later calculation 8. Connect R 1 and R 3 in parallel and again measure the voltage drop for current values of 50.0 ma and 100 ma and record in Data Table Connect R 2 and R 3 in parallel and perform the same measurements as described in steps 6 and 7. Record the results in Data Table 2. 3

4 Figure 4 Resistors R 1 and R 2 in parallel Calculations 1. If equation 1, which defines R is solved for V, the result is V = IR. This equation states that there is a linear relationship between the voltage and the current, and that the slope of the straight line in a graph of V versus I will be the resistance R. Construct graphs of the data in Data Table 1 with V on the vertical and I on the horizontal. Use only one set of axes for all five resistors, making five plots on that one graph. Make the five graphs as large as possible while still fitting on one page. Show on each small graph the straight line for the least squares fit. Label each graph. Determine the slope of the plot for the data on each resistor and record it in Calculations Table 1 as the experimental value for the resistance R exp. 2. Calculate the percentage error in the values of R exp compared to the values of R theo for the five resistors and record the results in Calculations Table For the data of Data Table 2, calculate the values of the equivalent resistance for the various series and parallel combinations listed in the table. Record in Calculations Table 2 these experimental values of the equivalent resistance for each of the two trials as the value of the measured voltage divided by the appropriate current. Calculate and record the mean of the two trials as (R e ) exp in both Calculations Table 2 and Calculations Table Equations 3 and 4 give the theoretical expressions for equivalent resistance for series and parallel combinations of resistance. Calculate a theoretical value for the equivalent resistance for each series and parallel combination measured in Data Table 2. However, for the values of the individual resistances R 1, R 2, and R 3 in equations 3 and 4, use the experimental values determined from the least squares fit to the data on the individual resistors. These values are the appropriate ones to use because often these resistor coils have been abused over the years by being overheated, and their present resistance may no longer be the same as that calculated by equation 2. Record this theoretical value for the equivalent resistance in each case as (R e ) theo in Calculations Table Calculate the percentage difference between the values of (R e ) exp and (R e ) theo for each of the series and parallel combinations measured and record the results in Calculations Table 3. 4

5 Data Table 1 I (A) V R1 (V) V R2 (V) V R3 (V) V R4 (V) V R5 (V) Data Table 2 Combination I IA) V (V) R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 1 R 2 Parallel R 1 R 3 Parallel R 2 R 3 Parallel Calculations Table 1 R theo R 1 (Ω) R 2 (Ω) R 3 (Ω) R 4 (Ω) R 5 (Ω) R exp % error R exp 5

6 Calculations Table 2 Combination (R e ) exp1 (R e ) exp2 (R e ) exp R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 1 R 2 Parallel R 1 R 3 Parallel R 2 R 3 Parallel Calculations Table 3 Combination (R e ) theo ( (R e ) Ω ) % diff exp R 1 R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 2 R 3 R 4 Series R 1 R 2 Parallel R 1 R 3 Parallel R 2 R 3 Parallel 6

7 Figure 5 Resistance is typically coded by a series of colored bands on the resistor. The key is given above in Figure 5. The four bands are placed with three equally spaced bands close to one end of the resistor followed by a space, and then a fourth band. The first two bands are the first two digits in the value of the resistor, and the third band gives the exponent of the power of 10 to be multiplied by the first two digits. This a resistor with its first three bands labeled Yellow-Violet-Red has a value of 47 x 10 2 Ω. 7

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