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Electric current is the rate of flow of electrical charges. It is the quantity of electrical charges that flow through a point in one second.

The quantity of electric current is measured using an ammeter. An ammeter has to be connected in series in an electric circuit.


Current is measured in amps (amperes), A.

1A is quite large, so mA (milliamperes) and A (microamperes) are often used. 1000mA = 1A, 1000A = 1mA, 1000000A = 1A.

Circuit symbol for amperes

The symbol I is used for current in equations.

Remember !!! The ammeter must be connected in series with the component. (Remember, in a series circuit, electrical devices are placed one after the other in a continuous line in the circuit between the positive and negative poles of the battery.)



The positive terminal of the ammeter must be connected to the positive terminal of the electrical supply.

The negative terminal of the ammeter must be connected to the negative terminal of the electrical supply.

What is Voltage?
Voltage is the force that pushes the electrons in a conductor to flow in one direction

It is possible to have voltage without current, but current cannot flow without voltage.

Voltage also is a measure of the energy carried by the charge.

Strictly: voltage is the "energy per unit charge".

The proper name for voltage is potential difference or p.d. for short, but this term is rarely used in electronics.

Voltage is measured with a voltmeter, connected in parallel.

Voltage is measured in volts, V. The symbol V is used for voltage in equations.

Voltage, V

Connecting a voltmeter in parallel

Voltage is supplied by the battery (or power supply).

Voltage is used up in components, but not in wires. We say voltage across a component.
Voltmeters have a very high resistance.

The switch is closed making a complete circuit so current can flow, the bulb is light on.

The switch is open so the circuit is broken and current cannot flow, The bulb does not light on.

Without the cell there is no source of voltage so current cannot flow. The bulb does not light on.

A resistor is an electrical component that opposes the flow of electricity. A resistor is usually used to control the flow of electric current in a circuit.

Two types of Resistor

1. Fixed resistor has fixed resistance. It supplies a constant resistance.

2. Variable resistor or rheostat - supplies resistance that can be changed. A good electrical conductor has low resistance. A poor electrical conductor has high resistance.

The resistance in a wire depends on the following factors:

1. The length of the wire: the longer the wire, the more resistance it has. The thickness of the wire: the thicker the wire, the less resistance it has. The type of metal: different types of metals have different resistances.



Conductors, Semiconductors and Insulators The resistance of an object depends on its shape and the material from which it is made.
For a given material, objects with a smaller cross-section or longer length will have a greater resistance.

Materials can be divided into three groups:

1. Conductors which have low resistance.
Examples: metals (aluminium, copper, silver etc.) and carbon. Metals are used to make connecting wires, switch contacts and lamp filaments.

2. Semiconductors which have moderate resistance.

Examples: germanium, silicon. Semiconductors are used to make diodes, LEDs, transistors and integrated circuits (chips).

3. Insulators which have high resistance.

Examples: most plastics such as polythene and PVC (polyvinyl chloride), paper, glass.

PVC is used as an outer covering for wires to prevent them making contact.

the resistor is connected series to the ammeter but parallel with the voltmeter.

Connecting a resistor to the electrical component.

Quantity Symbol S.I Unit Symbol

Voltage Resistance


Volt Ohm


Quantity Current
ammeter must be connected in series with the Component.

Diagram of circuit

Voltmeter must be connected in parallel with the Component.

the resistor is connected series to the ammeter but parallel with the voltmeter.