# Is it possible for a material to be a conductor in one direction and insulator in another?

• A
howl
Generally, a material is metal or insulator is simply determined by the gap. But if we view it in another way, to measure the resistance in different direction, says x and y, and there are usually different. And then measure the resistance change with temperature. Usually, the resistances goes up with temperature increases is metal, while resistances goes down is insulator, or semiconductor. If one finds that a material in x direction looks like metal in this resistance experimental, while in y no, is this situation possible? If so, could we say this material is metal just in x direction?

Mentor
Generally, a material is metal or insulator is simply determined by the gap. But if we view it in another way, to measure the resistance in different direction, says x and y, and there are usually different. And then measure the resistance change with temperature. Usually, the resistances goes up with temperature increases is metal, while resistances goes down is insulator, or semiconductor. If one finds that a material in x direction looks like metal in this resistance experimental, while in y no, is this situation possible? If so, could we say this material is metal just in x direction?
We use such material in laminated core transformers. The metal laminations are separated by non-conducting varnish. This is used to limit eddy current losses in the core:

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-99d6364e32355e6c00ab138131eeb3c5

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aaroman and CWatters
Staff Emeritus
Generally, a material is metal or insulator is simply determined by the gap. But if we view it in another way, to measure the resistance in different direction, says x and y, and there are usually different. And then measure the resistance change with temperature. Usually, the resistances goes up with temperature increases is metal, while resistances goes down is insulator, or semiconductor. If one finds that a material in x direction looks like metal in this resistance experimental, while in y no, is this situation possible? If so, could we say this material is metal just in x direction?

The cuprate superconductors are made up of layers of different atoms and molecules.

Along the so-called [a,b] plane where the Cu-O planes lie, it is very conducting, almost like a typical metal. Along the c-axis (vertical direction), the resistivity can be several orders of magnitude higher, and often considered to be insulating.

There are many layered materials that behave this way, so it isn't that exotic anymore.

Zz.

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aaroman and NathanaelNolk
Gold Member
As far as I know graphite is such a material. Its resistivity is much higher in the c direction than in the a-b plane. I do not know about its metallicity though.

howl