Resistance in a Wire

Resistance in a Wire

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Resistance in a Wire


Metals conduct electricity because the atoms in them do not hold on to
their electrons very well, and so creating free electrons, carrying a
negative charge to jump along the line of atoms in a wire. Resistance
is caused when these electrons flowing towards the positive terminal
have to 'jumps' atoms. So if we double the length of a wire, the
number of atoms in the wire doubles, so the number of jumps double, so
twice the amount of energy is required: There are twice as many jumps
if the wire is twice as long.

The thinner the wire is the less channels of electrons in the wire for
current to flow, so the energy is not spread out as much, so the
resistance will be higher. We see that if the area of the wire doubles
so does the number of possible routes for the current to flow down,
therefore the energy is twice as spread out, so the resistance might


To find out how changing the length of the wire changes the

Preliminary Work:

I did a preliminary experiment to find out the current and voltage
characteristics using a test circuit. The component was a filament
lamp. I did this to show that if the wires heats up with increased
voltage and current, the atoms inside the wire vibrate which makes it
harder for the electrons to pass through, therefore increasing the

This is a test circuit I used. The ammeter measures the current
flowing through the circuit and the voltmeter measures the volts
flowing through the circuit. To work out the resistance I used the
equation V = IR. V - volts, I - current and R - resistance. I plotted
the graph V vs. I. It was a curved graph which showed me that R
(resistance) increased as the filament in the bulb got hotter. I also
found out the longer you leave the cell on, the higher the resistance

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increases. This is because the wire increases in heat, making it
harder for electrons to pass through.


I predict that as the length of the wire increases so will the
resistance. The current is the flow of electrons; the current is
dependant on the amount of voltage, which is applied. Voltage is the
push given to the current. The current has to go through a circuit,
which contains resistance so if you increase the push you also
increase the flow of current.


1 metre ruler. I piece of wire over a metre long. 1 power pack. Wires.
Crocodile clips. Ammeter. Voltmeter.


I will keep the same piece of wire for the whole experiment, I will
vary the length of wire which I allow current to pass trough by
adjusting the crocodile clips. I will take three different results for
each different length of wire that the electrons pass through and then
take an average to try and avoid any anomalous results.



1. Set up apparatus as shown above.

2. Move the crocodile clip so that the length of the wire which the
electrons will flow through is 20 cm.

3. Turn the power pack on and record the voltage and current.

4. Work out the resistance using the equation V/I = R (voltage divided
by current equals resistance.)

5. Repeat this 2 more times and record an average for both voltage and

6. Repeat steps 2- 5 increasing the length of the wire by 10cm each
time until the length is 100cm.



I worked out the resistance of the wires by using the formula:
V/I = R or v = I x R

While moving through the wire, the electrons need to squeeze together.
This is because there is not enough room/space for them to pass evenly
through. The more the electrons have to bump together then the higher
the resistance. This is because it will take longer for them to pass
from one side of the wire to the other side. This is because the
current is slowed down. (The longer the wire, the longer the electrons
have to stay squashed together, and so the longer they take to pass
through the wire and the higher the resistance.

Ohm's law states that the current flowing through the circuit is
directly proportional to the voltage applied. (If you double one, you
double the other.)


The experiment proved to be a success and it went very well although
it could be improved by trying other lengths, different voltages but
also a different type of wire to be able to compare the resistance
difference. This would make a more interesting experiment.
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