Conductors and Insulators, Know their Properties, Examples, and Differences

Safalta Expert Published by: Noor Fatima Updated Fri, 07 Oct 2022 08:02 PM IST


Here is important and relevant information regarding Class 12 Physics Concept of Conductors and Insulators? Read the article to learn about Conductors and Insulators, their examples and properties. 

We distinguish the elements surrounding us on the basis of their physical characteristics, such as texture, malleability, polarity, solubility, phase, etc. However,  as we are familiar with another very important categorization of objects is done on the basis of their conductivity of Electric Charge, i.e. Conductors and Insulators. We will observe that when the electric circuit is completed between the battery and the bulb, making use of a plastic or a cotton thread, the bulb doesn’t glow if we do a simple experiment with a battery and a small LED bulb. On the other hand, if we perform the same experiment with a metallic wire like copper, the bulb starts glowing. This depicts that some elements allow charge transmission from the battery to the bulb. On the other hand, others do not. The foundation of the categorization of such elements is their electric conductivity. Let’s learn more about Conductors and Insulators in this blog.

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Table of Content
What are Conductors?
What are Insulators?
Difference Between Conductors and Insulators 

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What are Conductors?

In simple language, an electric conductor is referred to as an object that let electricity flow through them easily. This characteristic of conductors that enables them to conduct electricity is referred to as conductivity. The flow of negatively charged particles (electrons) in a conductor is called the Electric current. The force needed to make the current flow through the conductor is known as voltage

When a charge is transmitted to such an object, it gets disseminated across the whole surface of the element, which results in the movement of negatively charged elements in the object. The charges transmitted to an electrical conductor are dispersed until the force of repulsion between electrons in areas of surplus electrons is reduced to the lowest value. When such a material is kept in contact with another object that allows electric current to flow through it, the charge gets transferred from the first object to the other until the overall revulsion because of the charge is reduced. 

Metals, Humans, and Earth are all conductors,  the objects that allow an electric current to flow through them. This is the reason why we get electric shocks!

You can also read about
  • Semiconductors and Insulators 
  • Extrinsic semiconductors 
  • Electrical Insulators 

Instances of Conductors 
Graphite, the human body, and the earth are good conductors of electricity. Some Metals that are good conductors are-
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Gold

What are Insulators?

Insulators are objects that obstruct the free flow of negatively charged elements viz electrons from one material to another. If we transmit some amount of charge to such material at any point, the charge does not the initial position and does not distribute across the area. The most common mechanism of charging such materials is charging by rubbing.

Instances of Insulators 
Some good examples of insulators are -
  • Glass
  • Wood
  • Plastic 

Difference Between Conductors and Insulators 

Some of the major differences between Conductors and Insulators are as follows-
Conductors Basis of Difference Insulators
Elements that allow electric current and heat to flow through them are called Conductors.  Definition Elements that do not allow electric current and heat to pass through them are called Insulators. 
Some examples of good conductors are aluminum, copper, silver, and iron.  Examples Some examples of good Insulators are paper, plastic, wood, and rubber. 
Electrons move freely in Conductors.  Movement of Electrons  Electrons do not move freely in such materials. 
The Electric field prevails in the area but remains nil inside.   Existence of an Electric field  The Electric field does not prevail in Insulators. 

Why are Metals commonly used for making Electric wires?

Metals are commonly used for making electric wires because they are good conductors of electricity. 

What is the object with zero resistance called?

These are called Superconductors.

What factors influence the resistivity of a conductor?

The factors on which the resistivity of conductors depends are-
  • The material which the conductor is composed of
  • Temperature 

What are semiconductors?

Semiconductors are materials that allow an electric current to partially flow through them. Examples may include Germanium and Silicon. 

What is the aim behind lightening the rods?

The rods are lightened to guard structures against lightning devastations by hindering the rushes and guiding their currents from the ground.

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