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Constantan Wire Investigation

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 My aim is to find the factors, which affect the resistance of a wire or a conductor. These factors are: (a) material from which wire is made, (b) length of wire, and (c) thickness of wire.

I will choose to look at three different materials: Copper, Constantan and Nichrome and find out which one offers more resistance than others. For each material I am going to measure the current and voltage 3 times, a total of nine measurements for the three materials. Replication of measurements this way will make my results more reliable.  

I shall also investigate the effect of wire length on resistance by varying the length of wire and recording the corresponding current and voltage. This experiment will show me whether the resistance will increase as the length of wire increases.

Although wire diameter is the third factor that affects wire resistance, I shall not experiment with this factor here, as I will be content with the first two factors only.


In my investigation I predict that as I change the materials (Copper, Constantan and Nichrome) different readings from the ammeter and voltage will occur, and I expect that copper will have the least resistance of the three materials, followed by constantan, and then nichrome.  In other words I expect copper to be the highest conducting material, and nichrome the lowest conducting material, while constantan ranks second to copper. The reason is that copper allows more current to flow because it does not hold the electrons very hard compared to constantan and nichrome which are alloys that hang on to their electrons more tightly and therefore tend to have high resistance to electrical current.  The following electron distribution shapes give qualitative ideas as to why copper has highest conductivity (and least resistance)

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In the other Experiment – First thing that I’m going to do is to find a suitable metre ruler which match’s my requirements and then place a length of wire over a metre long and sellotaped it to a metre rule. Then I’m going clip a crocodile clip at the reading, which say 0cm. And then attached another crocodile clip which moves up and down the wire, stopping at 10,20,30,40,50, 60, 80, 90 and 100cm.In this experiment I’m going to read the voltage and the current from its ammeter and voltage meter very carefully, this is because it will allow me to calculate the resistance of each length, Each time reading the ammeter and voltmeter to work out resistance R = V/I.

Ranges of numbers and readings

The range of wire length I am going to investigate varies from 10 cm to 100 cm. This allows me to have a fair test on the effect of wire length on resistance. Also In this experiment I will be observing and repeating this experiment 3 times to give a much more accurate set of results. I will take the average of the three measurements for each material in order to get reliable results to calculate the resistance. Since there are three materials there will be nine measurements for voltage and current.


To keep this experiment as accurate as possible we need to make sure, firstly, that the length of the wire is measured precisely from the inside edge of the crocodile clips, making sure that the wire is straight when we do this. We must also make sure that the wire is straight when we conduct the experiment. If it is not, short circuits may occur and bends in the wire may effect the resistance, also.

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I have noticed several modifications I could make to improve on the Investigation if I was to repeat it.
The first of these modifications would be the circuit that I would use. To be more accurate with my results I would place the Metre rule directly under the wire, so therefore it would be measured easier and therefore making the lengths more precise.
Instead of connecting the voltmeter to the main circuit, I would connect it to the wire that is being tested. I would do this so that the voltmeter is measuring the voltage of just the wire being tested and not the wires of the main circuit as well.
To also improve on my results I could use a new or higher quality digital voltmeter. The next modification I would make would be to use pointers instead of crocodile clips to attach to the wire; I would do this because pointers would be more accurate. The pointers would be more accurate because the tips have a much smaller area than the crocodile clips giving a more accurate measurement of the length of wire. I would also use a newer metre rule. The graph shows that my results are reliable as there are only two anomalous points, to improve the reliability of my results, I could also have repeated the same lengths of wire more times

By Taha Elhassan

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