# Electric Currents and Circuits

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1 Nicholas J. Giordano Chapter 19 Electric Currents and Circuits Marilyn Akins, PhD Broome Community College

2 Electric Circuits The motion of charges leads to the idea of electric circuits A circuit occurs when charge can flow in a closed path Also examine circuit components Resistors Capacitors Conservation principles will be useful Conservation of Charge Conservation of Energy Introduction

3 Electric Current Electrons can move easily through a wire The magnitude of the current is measured by the amount of charge that moves along the wire Current, I, is defined as Section 19.1

4 Electric Current, cont. Current is defined in terms of net positive charge flow Historical reasons SI unit is Ampere (A) In honor of André-Marie Ampère 1 A = 1 C / s In the SI system, the ampere is a primary unit Coulomb and volt, for example, are defined in terms of the ampere Section 19.1

5 Movement of Charges The definition of current uses the net charge, Δq, that passes a particular point during a time interval, Δt The amount of charge could be the result of many possible configurations, including A few particles each with a large charge Many particles each with a small charge A combination of positive and negative charges Section 19.1

6 Movement of Charges, cont. If the current is carried by positive charges moving with a given velocity, the direction of the current is parallel to the velocity If current is carried by negative charges, the direction of the current is opposite the charges velocity Section 19.1

7 Movement of Charges, final A positive electric current can be produced by Positive charges moving in one direction Negative charges moving in the opposite direction Current in a metal is carried by electrons In a liquid or gas, the current is generally carried by a combination of positive ions moving in one direction and negative ions moving in the opposite direction Section 19.1

8 Current and Potential Energy For charge to move along a wire, the electric potential energy at one end of the wire must be higher than the electric potential energy at the other end Electric potential is related to electric potential energy by V = PE elec / q The potential is referred to simply as voltage Section 19.2

9 Current and Voltage The current is directed from a region of higher potential to a region of lower potential Or higher to lower voltage The direction of I is always from high to low potential, regardless if the current is carried by positive or negative charges The potential difference may be supplied by a battery Section 19.2

10 Construction of a Battery Alessandro Volta and his contemporaries developed the first batteries Batteries convert chemical energy to electrical energy In drawing an electric circuit the terminals of any type of battery are labeled with + and - Section 19.2

11 Volta s Battery Volta s first batteries consisted of alternating sheets of zinc and copper These were separated by a piece of parchment soaked with salt water Section 19.2

12 EMF The potential difference between a battery s terminals is called an electromotive force, or emf The term was adopted before it was understood that batteries produce an electric potential difference, not a force The emf is denoted with ε and referred to as voltage The value of the emf depends on the particular chemical reactions it employs and how the electrodes are arranged Section 19.2

13 Simple Circuit If the battery terminals are connected to two ends of a wire, a current is produced The electrons move out of the negative terminal of the battery through the wire and into the positive battery terminal Section 19.2

14 Simple Circuit, cont. The charge moves from one terminal to the other through a circuit The chemical reaction moves charge internally between the electrodes No net charge accumulates on the battery terminals while the current is present Section 19.2

15 Ideal vs. Real Batteries An ideal battery has two important properties It always maintains a fixed potential difference between its terminals This emf is maintained no matter how much current flows from the battery Real batteries have two practical limitations The emf decreases when the current is very high The electrochemical reactions do not happen instantaneously The battery will run down It will not work forever Section 19.2

16 Current The electrons moving in a wire collide frequently with one another and with the atoms of the wire This results in the zigzag motion shown When no electric field is present, the average electron displacement is zero There is no net movement of charge There is no current Section 19.3

17 Current, cont. With a battery connected, an electric potential is established There is an electric field in the wire: E = V / L The electric field produces a force that gives the electrons a net motion The velocity of this motion is the drift velocity Section 19.3

18 Current and Drift Velocity The current is equal to the amount of charge that passes out the end of the wire per unit time Let n be the density of electrons per unit volume Let A be the cross-sectional area of the wire I = - n e A v d Section 19.3

19 Ohm s Law The drag force on electrons leads to a drift velocity proportional to the force pushing the electrons through the metal The force is proportional to the electric field, so the drift velocity is proportional to the field The electric field is proportional to the potential difference, so the drift velocity is proportional to the potential difference The current is proportional to the drift velocity, so the current is proportional to the potential difference In summary, v d E v d V I V Section 19.3

20 Ohm s Law, cont. The constant of proportionality between I and V is the electrical resistance, R This relationship is called Ohm s Law The unit of resistance is an Ohm, Ω Ω = Volt / Ampere The value of the resistance of a wire depends on its composition, size, and shape Section 19.3

21 Resistivity The resistivity, ρ, depends only on the material used to make the wire The resistance of a wire of length L and crosssectional area A is given by The resistivities of some materials are given in table 19.1 Section 19.3

22 Ohm s Law: Final Notes Ohm s Law predicts a linear relationship between current and voltage Ohm s Law is not a fundamental law of physics Many, but not all, materials and devices obey Ohm s Law Resistors do obey Ohm s Law Resistors will be used as the basis of circuit ideas Section 19.3

23 Resistors Resistors can be made in many shapes and sizes Each will have a resistance proportional to the current through and the potential across the resistor Section 19.3

24 Circuit Schematic The circuit diagram (A) shows the symbols for the resistor and the battery Since the resistance of the wires is much smaller than that of the resistors, a good approximation is R wire =0 Section 19.3

25 Circuit Symbols Section 19.3

26 Current and Drift Velocity Current is related to the drift velocity For a household size copper wire carrying 1 A of current, the drift velocity is about m/s There is no perceptible time delay between when you push a switch and when the light comes on The speed of the electric current is equal to the speed of electromagnetic radiation in the wire This is nearly the speed of light Section 19.3

27 DC Circuits An electric circuit is a combination of connected elements forming a complete path through which charge is able to move Calculating the current in the circuit is called circuit analysis DC stands for direct current The current is constant The current can be viewed as the motion of the positive charges traveling through the circuit The current is the same at all points in the circuit Section 19.4

28 Circuits, cont. There must be a complete circuit for charge flow There must be a return path from the resistor for the current to return to the voltage source If the circuit is open, there is no current flow anywhere in the circuit Section 19.4

29 Kirchhoff s Loop Rule Consider the electric potential energy of a test charge moving through the circuit ΔV = ε I R = 0 For the entire circuit Assumes wires have no resistance Section 19.4

30 Kirchhoff s Loop Rule, cont. Conservation of energy is the heart of the circuit analysis Kirchhoff s Loop Rule states the change in potential energy of a charge as it travels around a complete circuit loop must be zero Since PE elec = q V, the loop rule also means the change in the electric potential around a closed circuit path is zero Section 19.4

31 Energy in a Resistor The test charge gained energy when it passed through the battery It lost energy as it passed through the resistor The energy is converted into heat energy inside the resistor The energy is dissipated as heat It shows up as a temperature increase of the resistor and its surroundings Section 19.4

32 Power In the resistor, the energy decreases by q V = (I Δt) V Power is energy / Δt = I V Applying Ohm s Law, P = I² R = V² / R The circuit converts chemical energy from the battery to heat energy in the resistors Applies to all circuit elements Section 19.4

33 Resistors in Series When the current passes through one resistor and then another, the resistors are said to be in series Applying Kirchhoff s Loop Rule: +ε I R 1 I R 2 = 0 Section 19.4

34 Series Resistors Equivalent R Any number of resistors can be connected in series The resistors will be equivalent to a single resistor with R equiv = R 1 + R 2 + R 3 + An equivalent resistor means that an arrangement of resistors can be replaced by the equivalent resistance with no change in the current in the rest of the circuit The idea of equivalence will apply to many other types of circuit elements Section 19.4

35 Batteries in Series Batteries can also be connected in series The positive terminal of one battery would be connected to the negative terminal of the next battery The combination of two batteries in series is equivalent to a single battery with emf of Section 19.4

36 Resistors in Parallel In some circuits, the current can take multiple paths The different paths are called branches The arrangement of resistors shown is called resistors in parallel The currents in each branch need not be equal Section 19.4

37 Resistors in Parallel, cont. Two unknown currents must be solved for Use three currents: I 1 through R 1 I 2 through R 2 I 3 through the wires and other parts of the circuit The three currents are not independent Section 19.4

38 Kirchhoff s Junction Rule The points where the currents are connected are called junctions or nodes Electric charge cannot be created or destroyed, so the amount of current entering a junction much be equal to the current leaving it This is called Kirchhoff s Junction Rule Both of Kirchhoff s Rules may be needed to solve a circuit Any starting point can be used to make a complete loop around the circuit Section 19.4

39 Applying the Junction Rule For path 1, +ε I 1 R 1 = 0 For path 2, +ε I 2 R 2 = 0 The total current is Section 19.4

40 Kirchhoff s Rules, Summary Kirchhoff s Loop Rule The total change in the electric potential around any closed circuit path must be zero Kirchhoff s Junction Rule The current entering a circuit junction must be equal to the current leaving the junction These are actually applications of fundamental laws of physics Loop Rule conservation of energy Junction Rule conservation of charge The rules apply to all types of circuits involving all types of circuit elements Section 19.4

41 Problem Solving Strategies Recognize the principle All circuit analysis is based on Kirchhoff s loop and junction rules Sketch the problem Start with a circuit diagram Identify all the different circuit branches The currents in the branches are generally the unknown variables in the problem Section 19.4

42 Problem Solving, cont. Identify Find all the possible closed loops and junctions in the circuit Solve Apply Kirchhoff s loop rule to each closed loop to get a set of equations involving the branch currents, battery emfs and resistances in each loop Apply Kirchhoff s junction rule to each junction to get equations relating different branch currents Solve the equations for the current in each branch Check Consider what your answer means Does your answer make sense? Section 19.4

43 Using Kirchhoff s Rules The loop rule can be used as often as the resulting equation is independent of the equations from the other loop equations An equation will be independent as long as it contains at least one circuit element that is not involved in other loops When using the loop rule, pay close attention to the sign of the voltage drop across the circuit element You can go around the loop in any direction Section 19.4

44 Directions in Kirchhoff s Rules The signs of the potentials in Kirchhoff s loop rule will depend on assumed current direction Moving parallel to the current produces a potential drop across a resistor After solving the equations, if the current is positive the assumed direction of the current is correct If the current is negative, the direction of the current Is opposite the assumed direction Section 19.4

45 Kirchhoff s Rules: Numbers of Equations In general, if a circuit has N junctions, the junction rule can be used N 1 times In general, a loop equation will be independent of other loop equations if it contains at least one circuit element that is not involved in the other loops Section 19.4

46 Equivalent Resistance Parallel A set of resistors in parallel can be replaced with an equivalent resistor = R R R R equiv Section 19.4

47 Circuit Analysis, Final Notes Some complex circuits can be solved by combinations of series and parallel rules Other circuits must be analyzed directly by Kirchhoff s Rules Connecting resistors in series always gives a total resistance larger than the resistance of any of the component resistors Connecting resistors in parallel always gives a total resistance smaller than the resistance of any of the component resistors Section 19.4

48 Real Batteries An ideal battery always maintains a constant voltage across its terminals The value of the voltage is the emf of the battery A real battery is equivalent to an ideal battery in series with a resistor, R battery This is the internal resistance of the battery Section 19.4

49 Real Battery, cont. The current through the internal resistance and the external resistor is The potential difference across the real battery s terminals is Section 19.4

50 Kirchhoff s Rules with Capacitors Kirchhoff s Rules can be applied to all kinds of circuits The change in the potential around the circuit is +ε I R q / C = 0 Want to solve for I I and q will be time dependent Section 19.5

51 Capacitors, cont. When the switch is closed, there is a current carrying a positive charge to the top plate of the capacitor When the capacitor plates are charged, there is a nonzero voltage across the capacitor Section 19.5

52 Charging Capacitors The current in the circuit is described by The voltage across the capacitor is The charge is given by τ = RC and is called the time constant Section 19.5

53 Time Constant Current At the end of one time constant, the current has decreased to 37% of its original value At the end of two time constants, the current has decreased to 63% of its original value Voltage and charge At the end of one time constant, the voltage and current have increased 63% of their asymptotic values Section 19.5

54 Capacitor at Various Times Just after the switch is closed The charge is very small V cap is very small I = ε / R When t is large The charge is very large V cap ε The polarity of the capacitor opposes the battery emf The current approaches zero Section 19.5

55 Capacitors at Various Times, Circuits

56 Discharging the Capacitor Current: Voltage: V cap = ε e -t/τ Charge: q = C ε e -t/τ Time constant: τ = RC, the same as for charging Section 19.5

57 Capacitors in Series Several capacitors can be connected in series The equivalent capacitance is = C C C C equiv The equivalent capacitance is smaller than any of the individual capacitors Section 19.5

58 Capacitors in Parallel Capacitors connected in parallel also can be equivalent to a singe capacitor C equiv = C 1 + C 2 + C 3 + The equivalent capacitance is larger than any of the individual capacitors Section 19.5

59 Ammeters An ammeter is a device that measures current An ammeter must be connected in series with the desired circuit branch An ideal ammeter will measure current without changing its value Must have a very low resistance Section 19.6

60 Voltmeters A voltmeter measures the voltage across a circuit element It must be connected in parallel with the element An ideal voltmeter should measure the voltage without changing its value The voltmeter should have a very high resistance Section 19.6

61 Filters It is often desirable to filter out time-dependent fluctuations in a voltage signal Circuits that can do so are called filters They can be constructed with RC combinations A filter is useful in many applications Noise in a radio signal The amount of filtering depends on the values of R and C Section 19.7

62 Electric Currents in Nerves Many nerves are long and thin, much like wires The conducting solution inside the fiber acts as a resistor The lipid layer acts as a capacitor The nerve fiber behaves as an RC circuit Needs a small time constant Small R through large radius Small C through a layer of myelin increasing the distance between the capacitor plates Section 19.7

63 Electric Currents and Health Your body is a moderately good conductor of electricity The body s resistance when dry is about 1500 Ω When wet, the body s resistance is about 500 Ω Current is carried by different parts of the body Skin Internal organs Section 19.8

64 Household Currents The voltage in your home is an AC voltage oscillating at a certain frequency Frequency is 60 Hz in the US Most modern outlets and plugs have three connections Two are flat One is round and connects to ground Polarized plugs have flat connectors of different sizes The larger connects to the lower potential Section 19.9

65 Fuses and Circuit Breakers In a fuse, current passes through a thin metal strip This strip acts as a resistor with a small resistance If a failure causes the current to become large, the power causes the strip to melt and the current stops A circuit breaker also stops the current when it exceeds a predetermined limit The circuit breaker can be reset for continued use Section 19.9

66 Temperature Dependence of Resistance As temperature increases, the ions in a metal vibrate with larger amplitudes This causes more frequent collisions and an increase in resistance For many metals near room temperature, ρ = ρ o [1 + α(t T o ) α is called the temperature coefficient of the resistivity The resistivity and resistance vary linearly with temperature Section 19.10

67 Superconductivity At very low temperatures, the linearity of resistance breaks down The resistivity of metals approach a nonzero value at very low temperatures In some metals, resistivity drops abruptly and is zero below a critical temperature Metals for which the resistivity goes to zero are called superconductors Section 19.10

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