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On the Measurement of the Resistivity of the Material of a Wire

Hessa Mohammed
26 April 2019

Abstract
This experiment determines the resistivity of Constantan and Nickel-Chrome wires.
The procedure involved varying the length of wire and measuring the resistance using
an ohmmeter. The resistivity was found by plotting the resistance vs. length. The
experiment shows that the resistivity of Nickel-Chrome (1.12 x 10-6 Ωm  8.99 x 10 -8

Ωm) is higher than that of Constantan (4.49 x 10 -7 Ωm  4.04 x 10 -8 Ωm), suggesting


that it makes wires with a higher resistance.

Introduction
The electrical resistance of a material is a quantity that measures how a material
resists the flow of electrical current through it and is measured in . Good conductors
have low resistance while insulators have very high resistance. The resistance of a
given material can be found using Equation 1

𝜌𝐿
𝑅= (1)
𝐴

Where R is the resistance, 𝜌 is the resistivity which is a characteristic to a


material, L is the length and A is the cross-sectional area.

Clearly the resistance is proportional to the resistivity provided that the dimensions are
kept constant.

Methods
Apparatus:
 Constantan 0.274 mm (diameter) (32 swg) wire.
 Nickel Chrome 0.45 mm (diameter) (28 swg) wire.
 Ohmmeter.
 Meter rule.
 Hook probes.

1
The schematic of the apparatus can be seen in Figure 1

Figure 1: Apparatus schematic

Procedure:
The resistance of the wire of the Constantan was determined using an ohmmeter and
the length between the hook probes of the ohmmeter was measured using a meter
rule. The procedure was repeated for 7 different lengths between the hook probes and
repeated for the Nickel Chrome wire.

Results and Discussion


The variation of resistance with the length between the hook probes for the Constantan
wire is shown in Table 1

Table 1: Variation of resistance with length for Constantan wire

Length (cm) Resistance ()


20  0.1 2.90  0.05
30  0.1 3.60  0.05
40  0.1 4.50  0.05
50  0.1 5.10  0.05
60  0.1 5.90  0.05
70  0.1 6.80  0.05
80  0.1 7.40  0.05

The diameter of the wire is 0.274 mm, which gives a cross-sectional area of 0.000590
cm2. The plot of resistance vs. length is shown in Figure 2

2
Resistance (Ω) vs. Length (cm)
8
7
6
Resistance (Ω)

5
y = 0.0761x + 1.3679
4 R² = 0.9981

3
2
1
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Length (cm)

Figure 2: Resistance vs. length for Constantan wire

The slope using the least squares method is 0.0761 Ω/cm as shown on the graph.
𝑚 𝑚𝑎𝑥 − 𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛 0.0771– 0.0634
∆ slope = = = 0.00685 Ω/cm (% uncertainty of 9%). Using
2 2

Equation 1 and the cross-sectional area the resistivity can be found as 0.0761 Ω/cm x
0.000590 cm2 = 4.49 x 10-7 Ωm  9% = 4.49 x 10-7 Ωm  4.04 x 10 -8 Ωm. This is
reasonably close to the actual value of 4.9 x 10-7 Ωm (percentage difference of 8.36%)
showing the success of the experiment. However, the line not pass through the origin
which can be caused by a calibration error in the instruments, a zero-drift and the
effects of temperature on the resistance.

The variation of resistance with the length between the hook probes for the Constantan
wire is shown in Table 2

Table 2: Variation of resistance with length for Nickel-Chrome wire

Length (cm) Resistance ()

3
20  0.1 2.30  0.05
30  0.1 3.60  0.05
40  0.1 3.90  0.05
50  0.1 4.60  0.05
60  0.1 5.70  0.05
70  0.1 6.10  0.05
80  0.1 7.00  0.05

The diameter of the wire is 0.450 mm, which gives a cross-sectional area of 0.00159
cm2. The plot of resistance vs. length is shown in Figure 3

Resistance (Ω) vs. Length (cm)


8
7
6
Resistance (Ω)

5
y = 0.0746x + 1.0107
4 R² = 0.9838

3
2
1
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Length (cm)

Figure 3: Resistance vs. length for Nickel-Chrome wire

The slope using the least squares method is 0.0746 Ω/cm as shown on the graph.
𝑚 𝑚𝑎𝑥 − 𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛 0.0731– 0.0611
∆ slope = = = 0.0060 Ω/cm (% uncertainty of 8.04%). Using
2 2

Equation 1 and the cross-sectional area the resistivity can be found as 0.0746 Ω/cm x
0.0015 cm2 = 1.12 x 10-6 Ωm  8.04% = 1.12 x 10-6 Ωm  8.99 x 10 -8 Ωm. This is not
very close to the actual value of 1 x 10-6 Ωm (percentage difference of 10.70 %)
showing the success of the experiment. However, the line not pass through the origin
which can be caused by a calibration error in the instruments, a zero-drift and the
effects of temperature on the resistance. Improvements to the experiment include
using more precise and sensitive instruments and re-calibrating the instruments before

4
use. Based on the experimental findings the resistivity of Nickel-Chrome is higher than
that of Constantan, suggesting that it makes wires with a higher resistance.

Conclusion
This experiment determines the resistivity of Constantan and Nickel-Chrome wires.
The resistivity was found by plotting the resistance against a varied length of wire. The
experiment shows that the resistivity of Nickel-Chrome (1.12 x 10-6 Ωm  8.99 x 10 -8

Ωm) is higher than that of Constantan (4.49 x 10 -7 Ωm  4.04 x 10 -8 Ωm), suggesting


that it is suitable for wires with a higher resistance.

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