Ohm's law

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Ohm's law, named after its discoverer Georg Ohm [1], states that the potential difference (or voltage drop V) between the ends of a conductor (for example, a resistor R) and the current, (I) flowing through R are proportional at a given temperature:


\frac{V}{I} = R <math>

where V is the voltage and I is the current; the equation yields the proportionality constant R, which is the electrical resistance of the device.

The law is strictly true only for resistors whose resistance does not depend on the applied voltage, which are called ohmic or ideal resistors or ohmic devices. Fortunately, the conditions where Ohm's law holds are very common (Ohm's law is never completely accurate [if R is assumed to be constant] for "real world" devices because no real device is an ohmic device for every voltage and current - at some level, the device will open or short, for example, by burning up or arcing ).

The relation V / I = R even holds for non-ohmic devices, but then the resistance R depends on V and is no longer a constant. To check whether a given device is ohmic or not, one plots V versus I and compares the graph The Ohm's law equation is often stated as


V = I \cdot R <math>

in part because that is the variation very commonly used with resistors.


Details of physics and mathematics

Physicists often use the so-called microscopic form of Ohm's Law:


\mathbf{j} = \sigma \cdot \mathbf{E} <math>

where j is the current density (current per unit area), σ is the conductivity (which can be a tensor in anisotropic materials) and E is the electric field. This is the form Ohm originally stated. The common form V = I·R used in circuit design is the macroscopic, averaged-out version.

It is important to note that Ohm's law is not an actual mathematically derived law, but an observation supported by significant empirical evidence. There are times when Ohm's law does break down, however, because it is really a simplification. The primary causes of resistance to electrical flow in a metal include imperfections, impurities, and the fact that electrons bounce off the atoms themselves. When the temperature of the metal increases, the collisions between electrons and atoms increase, so that when a substance heats up because of electricity flowing through it (or by whatever heating process), the resistance will increase. The resistance of an Ohmic substance depends on temperature in the following way:


R = \frac{L}{A} \cdot \rho = \frac{L}{A} \cdot \rho_0 (\alpha (T - T_0) + 1) <math>

where ρ is the resistivity, L is the length of the conductor, A is its cross-sectional area, T is its temperature, <math>T_0<math> is a reference temperature (usually room temperature), and <math>\rho_0<math> and <math>\alpha<math> are constants specific to the material of interest.

In the above expression, we have assumed that L and A remain unchanged within the temperature range.

It is worth mentioning that temperature dependence does not make an substance non Ohmic as far as R does not vary with voltage (or V / I = constant) at a given temperature.

Relation to heat conduction

The equation for the propagation of electricity formed on Ohm's principles is identical with that of Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier for the propagation of heat; and if, in Fourier's solution of any problem of heat-conduction, we change the word temperature to electric potential and write electric current instead of flux of heat, we have the solution of a corresponding problem of electrical conduction. The basis of Fourier's work was his clear conception and definition of conductivity. But this involves an assumption: that, all else being the same, the flux of heat is strictly proportional to the gradient of temperature. Although undoubtedly true for small temperature-gradients, it is not clear that it generalizes. An exactly similar assumption is made in the statement of Ohm's law: other things being alike, the strength of the current is at each point proportional to the gradient of electric potential. It happens, however, that with our modern methods it is much more easy to test the accuracy of the assumption in the case of electricity than in that of heat.

AC circuits

For an AC circuit Ohm's law can be written V=IZ where V and I are the oscillating phasor voltage and current respectively and Z is the complex impedance for the frequency of oscillation.

See also


[1] Mathematical work on the electrical circuit from 1827 - Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet

External links

cs:Ohmův zákon da:Ohms lov de:Ohmsches Gesetz es:Ley de Ohm eo:Leĝo de Ohm fr:Loi d'Ohm ko:옴의 법칙 it:Legge di Ohm he:חוק אוהם nl:Wet van Ohm ja:オームの法則 no:Ohms lov pl:Prawo Ohma pt:Lei de Ohm ro:Legea lui Ohm ru:Закон Ома sl:Ohmov zakon fi:Ohmin laki sv:Ohms lag zh:欧姆定律


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