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when a current is established in wire, the free electrons drift in the direction opposite to the current. does the number of free electrons in the wire continuously decrease?

6 years ago


Answers : (1)


Dear nikhil,

The mobile charged particles within a conductor move constantly in random directions, like the particles of a gas. In order for there to be a net flow of charge, the particles must also move together with an average drift rate. Electrons are the charge carriers in metals and they follow an erratic path, bouncing from atom to atom, but generally drifting in the direction of the electric field. The speed at which they drift can be calculated from the equation:

I=nAvQ \, ,


I is the electric current
n is number of charged particles per unit volume (or charge carrier density)
A is the cross-sectional area of the conductor
v is the drift velocity, and
Q is the charge on each particle.

Electric currents in solids typically flow very slowly. For example, in a copper wire of cross-section 0.5 mm2, carrying a current of 5 A, the drift velocity of the electrons is of the order of a millimetre per second. To take a different example, in the near-vacuum inside a cathode ray tube, the electrons travel in near-straight lines at about a tenth of the speed of light.

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