How do electrons move through a conductor

  • Thread starter Baqar79
  • Start date
Hi there,

I have lately tried to revisit electronics again after a long hiatus. Unfortunately, I am having trouble with basics (which was originally what helped me to fail my post-school education).

I've always been interested in particles and their physics and have spent a bit of time trying to figure out things that I wasn't sure about, only to realize that what I thought was the ocean of understanding was just a bucket. I'm very much overwhelmed and having no mathematical prowess I'm finding things difficult to understand.

Basically It all came down to trying to figure out how Voltage, Current and resistance work on an atomic/particle level. When studying electronics it isn't really covered in detail beyond the necessary calculations of ohms law. Things get more interesting when trying to visualize AC for me...for example how a magnetic field gets converted to electrical energy and there eddy currents (and it's associated skin effect).

I thought I might have had the basics down to a level I was satisfied with, at least until recently....then I stumbled across a type of chemistry that I didn't really know existed "Molecular Chemistry" these bonds (orbits?) appear to be have independent characteristics different from those found inside an individual atom Wow mind blown.

I tried to figure out about how these orbitals happened, but was scared away pretty instantly with the math...more searching lead me to try and tackle the uncertainty principle, which made less and less sense, followed by these EPR experiments which revealed quantum entanglement etc. To be honest if it is not already apparent, I don't really understand a lot of what I'm reading, but am absolutely obsessed with figuring it out.

I apologize for the background, but I was hoping that it might help with answering my questions if you know up-front that the surface basics aren't really very satisfying for me, I like as much depth as possible, though mathematics usually makes that difficult for me.

I have so many questions but the one I'm trying to tackle is 'how do electrons move through a metallic conductor'?

I may have got this wrong:
Voltage = Difference between the Number of electrons at 2 points in a circuit (the combined charge of the individual electrons at one point vs another)
Current = The flow speed of those electrons through a conductor (instantaneous number of electrons passing a cross sectional point - If voltage is doubled, current is doubled as there are twice as many electrons)
Resistance = Still working on this.

The conducting electrons don't really exist in a 'cloud' do they? (what I'm wondering is whether electrical conduction is based on movement of electrons within these metallic bonds)

Conductors can get quite hot when passing a lot of current, what is happening here with the electrons and their flow through a conductor ? (I used to think electrons were free and some hit atoms which released their kinetic energy as heat).
You are getting the most classical interpretation (due to Drude-Lorentz) :)

When you get more acquainted with this stuff, get prepared to all the new surprises in the form of quantum mechanics' laws consequences. Intuition can only explain the very basics, and it begins to fail very soon.

Related Threads for: How do electrons move through a conductor

  • Posted
  • Posted

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving