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An Investigation Into How the Length of a Wire Affects Its Resistance.

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Amy Gardner



To see how varying the length of a piece of wire will affect the resistance


In my preliminary work I researched various factors that can affect the resistance of wire. Some of the variables are listed below;

  • Length of wire
  • Diameter or thickness of wire
  • Temperature at which the wire is kept
  • The material of which the wire is made out of
  • The potential difference or voltage
  • Humidity
  • Cross sectional area
  • Voltage across circuit

I further researched into three specific factors that can affect the resistance;

  1. Temperature – When the temperature of a wire increases the resistance of the wire increases. This is because when the temperature increases the atoms inside the wire vibrate more vigorously because of the increase in energy. This means that the electrons have more difficulty getting through the wire and they collide with the other in their pathway. This increases the amount of collisions therefore there is more resistance.
  1. Length of Wire – The longer a wire, the larger the resistance. This is because there are more atoms in the wire so there is more chance that electrons would collide with one of the other atoms, therefore there is more resistance.
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Electricity is the flow of electrons; the current is the amount of charge per second and voltage is the height of electrons. Resistance: is when an electric conductor opposes a flow of electricity and disperses electrical energy away from the circuit, usually as heat. Optimum resistance is provided by a conductor that is long, small in cross section, and of a material that conducts poorly.

There are three basic systems of units used to measure electrical quantities, the most common being; ampere which is the unit of current and can be measured using a ammeter, volt which is the unit of electromotive force and can be measured using a voltmeter, and the ohm which is the unit of resistance.

I predict that as the length increases then the resistance will also increase directly proportional to the length. I predict this because I know that the longer the wire the more atoms there are, therefore it is more likely the electrons are going to collide with the present atoms in the wire. This explains the theory that when the length is doubled the resistance is also doubled.

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There were two minor problems which I encountered when conducting my experiment, these were; the temperature of the wire; during the experiment the wire became so hot that it started to smoke. However, I knew from previous research that to control the temperature you adjust the variable resistor; therefore this problem was easily solved. Also, during the experiment we had another inconvenience; there was a problem with the voltmeter. Consequently, we had to change the voltmeter half way through the experiment, this, in my mind, created an unfair test so I decided to start the experiment again. It did cause a problem as I had a specific time in which we had to complete the experiment, however, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and as it happened I completed the experiment within the time.

I think I collected enough evidence to draw a conclusion, I also think that I got a clear spread of results. However, if I was to do this experiment again I might adjust the length of the wire by 5cm each time rather than 10cm, this would give me more results, although I don’t think that by doing this I would prove anything other that what I have already proved.

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