Difference-between-conductors-and-insulators

Difference Between Conductors and Insulators

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In physics and any other electrical-related theories difference between conductors and insulators plays a very vital role. Conductors are materials that allow electric current or sometimes heat to pass through them. Hence becoming electrically conductive in nature. Insulators are materials that do not allow heat or electricity to pass through them. let us have a detailed look at conductors and insulators in this article.

What are Conductors?

The conductor is defined as the material which allows the electric current or heat to pass through it. The electrons in a conductor freely moved from atom to atom when the potential difference is applied across them. The conductivity of the conductor depends on the number of free electrons in the outermost shell of the orbit. The conductivity of the material is directly proportional to the number of free electrons.

The conductivity of the material is directly proportional to the number of free electrons. The valence band and conductance band of a conductor are overlapped each other and hence there is no forbidden energy gap. The resistance of the conductor is very low due to which the charges freely move from place to place when the voltage is applied across them.

Difference between Conductors and Insulators
conductors

Examples of the conductor

Copper, aluminum, silver, mercury, etc. are some of the examples of the conductor. Silver is considered the most conductive material. But the cost of the silver is very high and hence it is not used for making electrical wires and cables.

Properties of Conductors

There are so many properties of conductors. However, at the equilibrium condition, an electrical conductor shows the following properties.

  1. They have low resistance and high conductivity.
  2. The electric field inside both conductors and insulators is zero.
  3. Covalent bonds are weak, therefore, can be easily broken.
  4. The resistivity of conductors can vary from low to high.
  5. The temperature coefficient of resistance of the conductor is always positive.
  6. The charge density inside a conductor is always zero.

What Are Insulators?

Insulators are the materials or substances which resist or don’t allow the current to flow through them. In general, they are solid in nature. As they do not allow the flow of heat. The property which makes insulators different from conductors is their resistivity. Wood, cloth, glass, mica, and quartz are some good examples of insulators. Also, insulators are protectors. They give protection against heat, sound, and electricity. Furthermore, insulators don’t have any free electrons. It is the main reason why they don’t conduct electricity.

Thermal insulators, disallow heat to move from one place to another. Hence, we use them in making thermoplastic bottles. They are also used in fireproofing ceilings and walls. Sound insulators help in controlling noise levels, as they are good in the absorbance of sound. Thus, we use them in buildings and conference halls to make them noise-free. Electrical insulators hinder the flow of electrons or the passage of current through them. So, we use them extensively in circuit boards and high-voltage systems. They are also used in coating electric wires and cables.

Difference between Conductors and Insulators
Insulators

Examples of Insulators

Wood, cloth, glass, mica, and quartz are some good examples of insulators. Glass is the best insulator as it has the highest resistivity. Plastic is a good insulator. Rubber is a common material used in making tyres, fire-resistant clothes, and slippers.

Properties of Insulators

There are so many properties of Insulators. However, at the equilibrium condition, an insulating material shows the following properties.

  1. They have high resistance and low conductivity.
  2. The electric field inside both conductors and insulators is zero.
  3. Covalent bonds are strong, therefore, too hard to be broken.
  4. They have high resistivity.
  5. The temperature coefficient of resistance of an insulator is negative.
  6. At the breakdown voltage, an insulator can become a conductor.

Difference between Conductors and Insulators

Conductor Insulator
Any Material that permits the electric current or heat to pass through it. Any material that Restricts the electric current or heat to pass through it.
Electric Field
It Exists on the surface but remains zero inside the conductor. It Does not exist on the insulator.
Magnetic Field
It Stores energy It Does not store any energy
Thermal Conductivity
It has a high thermal conductivity It has a low thermal conductivity
Potential
Remain the same at all the points on the conductor. Remain zero.
Conductivity
Very high Low
Resistance
It has a very low resistance It has a high resistance
Electrons
There is a free flow of electrons Electrons do not move freely here
Covalent bond
Weak Strong
Temperature coefficient
Positive temperature coefficient of resistance Negative temperature coefficient of resistance
Resistivity
Vary from high to low High all the time
Conduction band
Full of electrons Remain empty
Valence Band
Remains Empty Full of electrons
Forbidden gap
No forbidden gap Large forbidden gap
Application
For making electrical wires and cable wires, conductor As insulation is used in electrical cables or conductors, as a protecting shield for supporting electrical equipment, etc.
Examples
Irons, aluminum, silver, copper, etc. Rubber, Wood, Paper, etc.

Conclusion

The difference between conductors and insulators is explained clearly. Do these really play a vital role its for you to decide…you can even check the Difference between Conduction Convection and Radiation, Difference between Alternate Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC)

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