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An insulator is a non-conducting material that does not carry any charge. Examples of insulators would be plastic and wood. Do you understand now why electrical wires are normally covered with plastic insulation? Semi-conductors behave like insulators when they are cold, and like conductors when they are hot. The elements silicon and germanium are examples of semi-conductors.

Conductors and insulators

A conductor allows the easy movement or flow of something such as heat or electrical charge through it. Insulators are the opposite to conductors because they inhibit or reduce the flow of heat, electrical charge, sound etc through them.

Think about the materials around you. Are they electrical conductors or not? Why are different materials used? Think about the use of semiconductors in electronics? Can you think of why they are used there?

Experiment : electrical conductivity

Aim:


To investigate the electrical conductivity of a number of substances

Apparatus:


  • two or three cells
  • light bulb
  • crocodile clips
  • wire leads
  • a selection of test substances (e.g. a piece of plastic, aluminium can, metal pencil sharpener, magnet, wood, chalk).

Method:


  1. Set up the circuit as shown above, so that the test substance is held between the two crocodile clips. The wire leads should be connected to the cells and the light bulb should also be connected into the circuit.
  2. Place the test substances one by one between the crocodile clips and see what happens to the light bulb.

Results:


Record your results in the table below:
Test substance Metal/non-metal Does the light bulb glow? Conductor or insulator

Conclusions:


In the substances that were tested, the metals were able to conduct electricity and the non-metals were not. Metals are good electrical conductors and non-metals are not.

The following simulation allows you to work through the above activity. For this simulation use the grab bag option to get materials to test. Set up the circuit as described in the activity.

run demo

Thermal conductors and insulators

A thermal conductor is a material that allows energy in the form of heat, to be transferred within the material, without any movement of the material itself. An easy way to understand this concept is through a simple demonstration.

Demonstration : thermal conductivity

Aim:


To demonstrate the ability of different substances to conduct heat.

Apparatus:


You will need two cups (made from the same material e.g. plastic); a metal spoon and a plastic spoon.

Method:

  • Pour boiling water into the two cups so that they are about half full.
  • At the same time, place a metal spoon into one cup and a plastic spoon in the other.
  • Note which spoon heats up more quickly

Results:


The metal spoon heats up faster than the plastic spoon. In other words, the metal conducts heat well, but the plastic does not.

Conclusion:

Metal is a good thermal conductor, while plastic is a poor thermal conductor. This explains why cooking pots are metal, but their handles are often plastic or wooden. The pot itself must be metal so that heat from the cooking surface can heat up the pot to cook the food inside it, but the handle is made from a poor thermal conductor so that the heat does not burn the hand of the person who is cooking.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Good
Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
What makes metals better to use as wires than non-metals? (please link to bonding type)??? HELP
Yash Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry grade 10 [caps]. OpenStax CNX. Jun 13, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11303/1.4
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