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Investigate what factors affect the resistance of a wire

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Science Investigation

Resistance of a wire

We have been asked to investigate what factors affect the resistance of a wire, the factors that

will affect the resistance of the wire are :

The material from which the material is made from, as different materials have differing densities

and conductivity levels resistance will be affected as a result of this, this will be because if the

object is denser there are more atoms for the traveling elctrons to collide with, thus increasing

the resistance.

The temparature of the wire before the current is passed through the wire. this will  affect

resistance because as atoms heat up or cool down they move either quicker or slower,

respectively, if the atoms are moving faster there is a much greater chance of the travelling

electrons colliding with these atoms.

The Thickness of the wire, this will affect resistance because as the wire gets thicker there is

more space in the wire and therefore less chance of the electrons colliding with the atoms.

Finally the length of the wire is a factor which will affect resistance, this is because as the wire

gets long there is a much greater chance of electrons colliding with atoms because there are

more that the electrons have to pass in the wire.

...read more.


6 Ni-crome wires of varying thicknesses. I am keeping the same material for each wire

thickness because wire material is a factor affecting resistance.

An Ammeter

A voltmeter

Power Supply

A Micrometer To accurately measure the thicknesses of the wires

A power supply unit which can control the amount of voltage delivered across my test circuit

because 240V is obviously a dangerous and excessive voltage.

Two clamp stands.

Connecting wires from the PSU to the crocodile clips

A ruler to measure the length of the wire. I will keep the length of all the wires the same, the

lengths of the wires will be measured down to 0.1 of a centimetre, this is because wire length is

a factor affecting resistance.

This is how my experiment will be set up.


Following my plan here are the results that i obtained.

Thicknesses. (mm)

Size      1st                  2nd                  3rd      Mean

1.       0.97                 0.97                 0.96     0.97

2.       0.73                 0.73                 0.73     0.73

3.       0.56                 0.56                 0.56     0.56

4.       0.46                 0.46                 0.46     0.46

5.       0.38                 0.38                 0.38     0.38

6.       0.33                 0.32                 0.31     0.32

Cross-Sectional Area (mm2) to 2 DP

1.      0.74

2.      0.42

3.      0.25

4.      0.17

5.      0.12

6.      0.08

All tests were carried out at 2.5 Volts


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have been even slightly wrong, also the crocodile clips appeared corroded and did not

neccesarily provide the best contact with the wire, next time i could use points which are smaller

and give a much better contact with the wire, however i think that the results that i did take were

accurate discounting any unnavoidable equipment errors and shortfalls, by using the micrometer

to measure the thickness of the wire we got a very accurate and fool proof measurement that

wasn't open to the kind of guess work that would occur with use of a ruler, the Volt meters and

Ammeters were accurate enough at 0.01 of an amp and 0.01 of a volt we wouldn't want to go

any more accurate than that. One problem which might have adversely affected our results

which we noticed in the preliminary work but couldn't find a solution for was the fact that the

wires used had been coiled up for some time and therefore when tried to pull straight kept

coiling up, this arcing in the wire might have caused at small magnetic field thus losing some

energy and increasing resistance, this could be solved by keeping the wire tort for some time to

allow it to return to its natural state, however on the whole these things did not affect the results

and i think i was a success.

Matthew Towell


...read more.

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