What You Need To Know About Electrical Conductivity
Electrical conductivity is the measure of the ability of a conductor or semi-conductor to conduct electric current. Different materials have varying levels of electrical conductivity. The standard unit of measuring this quantity is Siemens per meter.
The Importance of Measuring Conductivity
The conductance of a material varies with temperature. For instance, the conductivity of metals reduces as temperature increases. This simply means that metals are poor conductors, i.e. have higher resistivity, at higher temperatures. In electrical circuits, an increase in temperature leads to an increase in power losses due to increased resistivity. On the other hand, the conductivity of semiconductor materials normally increases with temperature. This is a very important property that electrical engineers and technicians must understand.
Since temperatures change from season to season in most parts of the world. It is important for electrical engineers and technologists to consider the conductivity of the materials they are using in the projects they are undertaking. For instance, using a material whose conductivity does not vary much in areas that experience extreme temperatures during winter and summer is recommended. Power losses in the transmission and distribution lines, as well as the wiring in buildings, can lead to inflated energy bills.
In AC circuits, conductivity is sometimes referred to as admittance, while resistivity is referred to as impedance. There are cases where poor conductivity is desired. For instance, when making electrical heaters, heating elements that have poor conductivity are normally used. Heat is dissipated due to the difficulty experienced by electrical current when passing through the heating element.
Electricians can easily calculate the electrical conductivity of a material based on its resistivity among other properties. They can also manipulate a device or a circuit to ensure that the desired output is achieved irrespective of the conductance or resistance of its conductors. Conductivity is also an important measurement when it comes to designing instruments and sensors.