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Copper, Constantan, Manganan and Nichrome - which is the best conductor?

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Introduction

Physics Coursework Copper, Constantan, Manganan and Nichrome - which is the best conductor? Background Knowledge Conduction of electricity in metals requires a potential difference across two ends of a conductor for it to occur. This causes a flow of electrons in the wire, more commonly known as a current. The electrons in this current are free, meaning they are can move around in the wire freely. The number of free electrons depends on the wire. The more free electrons the better a conductor it will be. The electrons may however come up against some resistances while flowing in the current. Resistance is the result of energy loss as heat. These resistances or obstacles, which slow the electrons down, are other electrons and the fixed particles of the metal i.e. atoms. These slow the electrons down because while they are flowing freely they collide with the other electrons and the fixed particles. These collisions convert some of the energy that the free electrons are carrying into heat. The resistance of a length of wire is calculated by measuring the current in the circuit (in series) and the voltage across the wire (in parallel). Then the resistance can be found by incorporating these values into this formula: - R = V / I Units V = Potential Difference (Voltage) measured in volts I = Current measured in amps R = Resistance measured in ohms It is also required to know of Ohm's Law, which states that "The current through a metallic conductor is directly proportional to the voltage across its ends if the temperature or other conditions are constant." ...read more.

Middle

Take the first wire and set up circuit as shown in the diagram 2. Make sure the voltmeter and ammeter settings are the ones specified in the preliminary work 3. Turn on power supply at low output 4. Place the voltage at correct setting 5. Measure and record the current of the wire from the ammeter 6. Place the voltage at the next setting and again measure and record the current 7. Repeat until you have recorded 5 results 8. Change the wire and repeat steps 2 - 6 until you have got current for all four wires 9. Record all your results in a table and draw up graphs to calculate the resistances for each wire Strategy for results I am now going to draw a specimen table, which I will later use to record the results when I am obtaining my evidence. Then I will draw a specimen graph. This is a sketch of what I think my final graph will look like. This is the table I will record my results in: - Metal Wire Potential Difference (volts) Current (Amps) I will use this table four times, once for each of the wires. Each time I will put in the name of the wire I will be using, and the appropriate scale for the Potential Difference. On this page I have drawn my specimen graph KEY: = Nichrome = Constantan = Manganin = Copper Results I have used the specimen table, which I constructed earlier to record my results. Metal Wire Potential Difference (volts) Current (Amps) Copper 0.02 0.1 0.04 0.18 0.06 0.28 0.08 0.38 0.10 0.45 Metal Wire Potential Difference (volts) ...read more.

Conclusion

I was only 2 ? out this time compared to the nichrome when I was out by over 6 ?. My results for manganin were the best by far. My line of best fit went straight through every point on the graph. I got a final resistance of 5.00 ?. Compared to the book this is again very accurate as the book says it should be 5.3 ?. I was only 0.3 ? out for this result. I didn't have any anomalous results on the graph either. I was very satisfied with the result I got for manganin. Finally copper. My results in the graph were again very accurate with only the last two points being slightly out. I feel a small alteration to my line of best fit would fix those two minor anomalies. The resistance I found the copper wire to be was 0.22 ?, which is a very small 0.028 ? of a difference with the book, which said the resistance for copper was 0.192 ?. Again I was pleased with my result and found it to be suitably accurate. Overall I feel my copper and manganin results are very accurate while my results for constantan and nichrome are less accurate but still quite reliable as none of my results gave me any concern. Any anomalous results may have been because I read the equipment incorrectly or I left the bulb for too long and it heated up too much. I think that my results support my prediction quite sufficiently because as I said in my prediction, copper would have the lowest resistance and therefore be the best conductor, followed by manganin, then constantan and that nichrome would be the worst conductor. My results show this so my prediction must have been suitably accurate. ...read more.

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