Electricity and Conduction of Electricity

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Introduction

All the substances that are made up of atoms having charged particles are known as electrons and protons. These charged particles have respectively one single negative and another positive charge. On the fundamental particles, electricity in all forms is a result of this charge. The conduction of electricity is defined as the movement of the charged particles in a well-organized manner by resulting in a net charge movement through the material. When the charged particles move in an orderly style, we get an electric current.


Conduction of Electricity 

Electricity conduction can be applied for various substances like solids, liquids, and other compounds. Let us have a look on the conduction of electricity on a few compounds like liquids and substances.

Conduction of Electricity in Liquids

Metals can conduct electricity via mobile electrons. The outermost electrons in the metals are held loosely because of which they can move from one to another atom. That’s why metals are the excellent conductors of electricity. Besides, liquids conduct electricity by different means. Other than metals, the chemical bonding in liquids doesn’t allow for a free movement of electrons. This means before it can start conducting, we have to introduce charges into the water. Compounds such as ionic Compounds dissolve in water; they do so by breaking up or dissociating their bonds.

When the breakage of bond occurs, the components of these compounds break apart to yield multiple constituent atoms having a charge on the bond. The atom that loses single or multiple electrons has a number of protons rather than electrons, and likewise, an atom that gains electrons has a number of electrons to that of protons. This leads to an imbalanced charge leading to either a positive or a negative charge on the atom. The atom that becomes charged by gaining or losing one or more electrons is referred to as an Ion.

Conduction of Electricity in Substances

Let us look at an experimental setup to understand the flow of electricity via various liquids. We know that electricity is explained as the movement of charged particles through the body. In solids such as metals, the electrons are loosely bound to the atoms because of which electrons can freely move from atom to atom in a metal object. This electron mobility allows us to pass an electric current through it. If we can easily pass an electric current through objects, we call them Good electricity conductors. Materials that do not allow the electricity flow through it are known as insulators. The liquid elements that only conduct electricity are liquid metals, whereas Mercury is the only metal liquid at room temperature. This experiment helps us to identify how electricity is exactly conducted through a liquid.

Coming back to the experimental setup, this setup is used to test the electrical conduction in a substance. This also consists of an electric circuit connected to a glass lamp attached to a voltage source that is used to power this lamp like a battery. There is a discontinuity noticed in the circuit as an intentional break in it. This particular breakage is replaced with two electrodes that can be dipped into the substances to examine the electrical conduction nature through the body.

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When the electrodes are dipped into the conducting substance such as mercury, the current passes from the circuit, and then, from the electrode into the conducting material, and from there, it passes on to the other electrode, then to the bulb thereby completing the entire circuit. If the bulb glows, in turn, it is meant that the substance is conducting. Coming to a non-conducting substance, the current is unable to pass from the electrode to the substance, thereby breaking the circuit. In this case, the lamp stays off. This experiment is primarily conducted to check the conductivity of the solution. If the lamp lightens, it means the solution conducts electricity. If the lamp is dim, it means simply it conducts too little electricity. Let’s see this experiment results for various common solutions.

Liquid

Lamp lights up?

Solution

Lamp lights up?

Solution

Lamp lights up?

Pure water

No

Water + Salt

Yes

Water + Sugar

No

Alcohol

No

Alcohol + Salt

No

Alcohol + Sugar

No

Oil

No

Oil + Salt

No

Oil + Sugar

No

Vinegar

Yes

Vinegar + Salt

Yes, brightly

Vinegar + Sugar

Yes

From the experiment taken, we deduce that there is something in salt that enables the electrical conduction in a solution. It means we must jump into what allows it to do so. The answer is simply Ions.

We also should consider that normal tap water has many compounds dissolved in it, which we treat as Hardness. The conductivity is largely based on this, and thus conductivity of tap water may vary from place to place. From this experiment, we also found which solutions conduct electricity and which do not.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Ionic and Covalent compounds?

Ans. Ionic Compounds

The ionic compounds held together by ionic bonds classed as the ionic compounds. Elements can either gain or lose electrons to attain their nearest noble gas configuration. Formation of ions (either by losing or gaining electrons) for the octet completion helps them to gain stability.

In a reaction between nonmetals and metals, metals, in general, lose electrons to complete their octet while non-metals gain electrons to their octet completion. Metals and non-metals usually react to form ionic compounds.

An example of ionic compounds is the reaction between magnesium and chlorine.

Covalent compounds

A covalent compound is defined as a molecule formed by the covalent bonds, where the atoms share either one or more pairs of valence electrons.

Generally, covalent, otherwise known as molecular compounds, result from two nonmetals reacting with each other. The elements form a compound by sharing electrons by resulting in an electrically neutral molecule.

A few examples of covalent compounds are DNA, water, and sucrose.

2. Why do the conductors Conduct Electricity?

Ans. There are many best conductor of electricity materials or the best conductor of electricity metals. Materials behave as good conductors or semiconductors and insulators based on electrical conductivity.

Considering the conductor’s case, these are the materials that let electrical charges to flow through them easily. Some conductor examples are the human body, metals, electrolytic solutions, and more. Also, the conduction of electricity in liquids occurs through electrons.

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Most atoms in metals have loosely bound electrons in their outermost orbits. These electrons are popularly called free electrons since they have a real and good tendency to detach from their parent atom and to move freely. (note that, no electron move from one end to the other end of the conductor). The flow of charge occurs due to the electron movement (only electrons, but not protons). In the view of an external electric field, all the free electrons would flow in the opposite direction to the field, thereby constituting a current.

Electrolytic solutions is another good conductor used in electric applications. The flow of charge happens because of the movement of negative and positive ions.

Therefore, the secret of electric conductivity lies in the atoms!