Types of electrical materials

2 min read

Electrical materials are materials that have properties that make them useful for conducting, controlling, or insulating electricity. They can be classified into three main types: conductors, semiconductors, and insulators.

Conductors have low electrical resistivity, meaning that they easily allow electricity to flow through them. This is because they have many free electrons that can move around and carry an electric current. Examples of conductors include metals such as copper, aluminium, and gold.

Semiconductors have electrical conductivity between that of conductors and insulators. Their electrical conductivity can be controlled by doping them with impurities. Doping is the process of adding a small amount of another element to the semiconductor to change its electrical properties. Examples of semiconductors include silicon, germanium, and gallium arsenide.

Insulators have high electrical resistivity, meaning that they do not easily allow electricity to flow through them. This is because they have very few free electrons. Examples of insulators include plastics, rubber, and glass.

Examples of electrical materials and their valence bonds:

  • Conductors:

    • Copper (Cu): 1 valence electron

    • Aluminum (Al): 3 valence electrons

    • Gold (Au): 1 valence electron

  • Semiconductors:

    • Silicon (Si): 4 valence electrons

    • Germanium (Ge): 4 valence electrons

    • Gallium arsenide (GaAs): 3 valence electrons

  • Insulators:

    • Plastic: typically carbon (C) with 4 valence electrons and hydrogen (H) with 1 valence electron

    • Rubber: typically carbon (C) with 4 valence electrons and hydrogen (H) with 1 valence electron

    • Glass: typically silicon (Si) with 4 valence electrons and oxygen (O) with 6 valence electrons

The valence bond is the type of chemical bond that forms when two atoms share one or more pairs of their valence electrons. Valence electrons are the electrons in the outermost shell of an atom.

In conductors, the valence electrons are not tightly bound to their atoms. This means that they can easily move around and carry an electric current.

In semiconductors, the valence electrons are more tightly bound to their atoms. However, some of the valence electrons can gain enough energy to break free from their bonds and become free electrons. The number of free electrons in a semiconductor can be controlled by doping it with impurities.

In insulators, the valence electrons are tightly bound to their atoms. This means that they cannot easily move around and carry an electric current.

Electrical materials are essential for the operation of many modern technologies, including computers, smartphones, televisions, and cars. The selection of the right electrical material for a particular application depends on the desired electrical properties, such as conductivity, resistance, and capacitance.