How does an electron carry energy in a circuit?

In summary, the role of electrons in carrying energy in a circuit is to rearrange themselves to create the electric field needed for the circuit to function. The physical aspect of the electron that changes under the influence of different voltages is its position, which in turn affects the electric field. The electric field is generated by the exchange of virtual photons between electrons, which act as force carriers in the electromagnetic interaction.
  • #1
4 Ton Mantis
2
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By what means does an electron carry energy in a circuit? What physical aspect of the electron is changing under the influence of say 6 V versus 12 V?

Kinetic energy doesn't explain it as electrons at later points in the circuit would be slower and bog down higher-energy electrons in earlier parts of the circuit.
 
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  • #2
Maybe think of the electric fields as carrying the energy. That is what your device is 'using' when its hooked up to voltage, its using the electric field and its properties to do work. In this sense the role electrons play is to rearrange themselves so that you get the electric field you want out of the wire. The 'aspect of the electron' that is changing is its position which in turn changes the electric field.
 
  • #3
That makes sense, thank you. And if you or someone else could refresh my memory: is the electric field generated by exchange of virtual photons between electrons? Or if not, how is it composed?
 
  • #4
4 Ton Mantis said:
By what means does an electron carry energy in a circuit? What physical aspect of the electron is changing under the influence of say 6 V versus 12 V?
By what means does a boulder carry energy down a hill? By its position (i.e. potential energy due to position).

4 Ton Mantis said:
Kinetic energy doesn't explain it as electrons at later points in the circuit would be slower and bog down higher-energy electrons in earlier parts of the circuit.
Electrons are so light that their KE is completely negligible in most circuits.
 
  • #5
4 Ton Mantis said:
That makes sense, thank you. And if you or someone else could refresh my memory: is the electric field generated by exchange of virtual photons between electrons? Or if not, how is it composed?

They are the force carriers of the EM interaction, yes. The subject of virtual particles is very complicated and I highly advise you to simply ignore them unless you are dealing with the various Quantum theories that use them.
 
  • #6
4 Ton Mantis said:
By what means does an electron carry energy in a circuit? What physical aspect of the electron is changing under the influence of say 6 V versus 12 V?

Kinetic energy doesn't explain it as electrons at later points in the circuit would be slower and bog down higher-energy electrons in earlier parts of the circuit.

This is not so easy question.

An electron in the wire feels that other electrons are pushing it, equally from all directions.

If we ask the electrons, if they are carrying energy, they might say: "we are storing electrick energy, and we are moving relative to the atoms in the wire, because the atoms are all moving to the same direction"

If we look at some electrons that seem to be squeezed together, and the electrons seem to be moving to the right, then it is a correct thing to say that electric energy is moving to the right, relative to us.

But, if we start walking to the right, faster than the electrons, then we must say that electric energy is moving to the left, relative to us.
 

Related to How does an electron carry energy in a circuit?

1. How does an electron carry energy in a circuit?

In a circuit, the flow of electrons is what carries energy from the power source to the components of the circuit. The electrons are negatively charged particles that move through the circuit in a continuous loop, transferring energy from the source to the components.

2. What is the role of electrons in a circuit?

The role of electrons in a circuit is to carry energy. They move from the negative terminal of the power source, through the various components in the circuit, and back to the positive terminal of the power source.

3. How is energy transferred by electrons in a circuit?

As electrons move through a circuit, they collide with the atoms in the conductive material, transferring energy and causing the atoms to vibrate. This vibration of atoms is what we perceive as electrical energy.

4. What determines the speed of electrons in a circuit?

The speed of electrons in a circuit is determined by the voltage of the power source. A higher voltage means the electrons will move faster, carrying more energy through the circuit. The resistance of the circuit also plays a role in the speed of electrons.

5. Can electrons carry energy in both directions in a circuit?

Yes, electrons in a circuit can carry energy in both directions. In a direct current (DC) circuit, the electrons flow in one direction, while in an alternating current (AC) circuit, the electrons switch direction periodically. In both cases, the electrons are carrying energy from the source to the components.

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