<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Explain why a null measurement device is more accurate than a standard voltmeter or ammeter.
  • Demonstrate how a Wheatstone bridge can be used to accurately calculate the resistance in a circuit.

Standard measurements of voltage and current alter the circuit being measured, introducing uncertainties in the measurements. Voltmeters draw some extra current, whereas ammeters reduce current flow. Null measurements balance voltages so that there is no current flowing through the measuring device and, therefore, no alteration of the circuit being measured.

Null measurements are generally more accurate but are also more complex than the use of standard voltmeters and ammeters, and they still have limits to their precision. In this module, we shall consider a few specific types of null measurements, because they are common and interesting, and they further illuminate principles of electric circuits.

The potentiometer

Suppose you wish to measure the emf of a battery. Consider what happens if you connect the battery directly to a standard voltmeter as shown in [link] . (Once we note the problems with this measurement, we will examine a null measurement that improves accuracy.) As discussed before, the actual quantity measured is the terminal voltage V size 12{V} {} , which is related to the emf of the battery by V = emf Ir size 12{V="emf" - ital "Ir"} {} , where I size 12{I} {} is the current that flows and r size 12{r} {} is the internal resistance of the battery.

The emf could be accurately calculated if r size 12{r} {} were very accurately known, but it is usually not. If the current I size 12{I} {} could be made zero, then V = emf size 12{V="emf"} {} , and so emf could be directly measured. However, standard voltmeters need a current to operate; thus, another technique is needed.

The diagram shows equivalence between two circuits. The first circuit has a cell of e m f script E and an internal resistance r connected across a voltmeter. The equivalent circuit on the right shows the same cell of e m f script E and an internal resistance r connected across a series combination of a galvanometer with an internal resistance r sub G and high resistance R. The currents in the two circuits are shown to be equal.
An analog voltmeter attached to a battery draws a small but nonzero current and measures a terminal voltage that differs from the emf of the battery. (Note that the script capital E symbolizes electromotive force, or emf.) Since the internal resistance of the battery is not known precisely, it is not possible to calculate the emf precisely.

A potentiometer    is a null measurement device for measuring potentials (voltages). (See [link] .) A voltage source is connected to a resistor R, say, a long wire, and passes a constant current through it. There is a steady drop in potential (an IR size 12{ ital "IR"} {} drop) along the wire, so that a variable potential can be obtained by making contact at varying locations along the wire.

[link] (b) shows an unknown emf x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} (represented by script E x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} in the figure) connected in series with a galvanometer. Note that emf x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} opposes the other voltage source. The location of the contact point (see the arrow on the drawing) is adjusted until the galvanometer reads zero. When the galvanometer reads zero, emf x = IR x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } = ital "IR" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} , where R x size 12{R rSub { size 8{x} } } {} is the resistance of the section of wire up to the contact point. Since no current flows through the galvanometer, none flows through the unknown emf, and so emf x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} is directly sensed.

Now, a very precisely known standard emf s size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{s} } } {} is substituted for emf x size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } {} , and the contact point is adjusted until the galvanometer again reads zero, so that emf s = IR s size 12{"emf" rSub { size 8{s} } = ital "IR" rSub { size 8{s} } } {} . In both cases, no current passes through the galvanometer, and so the current I size 12{I} {} through the long wire is the same. Upon taking the ratio emf x emf s size 12{ { {"emf" rSub { size 8{x} } } over {"emf" rSub { size 8{s} } } } } {} , I size 12{I} {} cancels, giving

Questions & Answers

resistance of thermometer in relation to temperature
Ifeanyi Reply
how
Bernard
that resistance is not measured yet, it may be probably in the next generation of scientists
Paul
Is fundamental quantities under physical quantities?
Igwe Reply
please I didn't not understand the concept of the physical therapy
John Reply
physiotherapy - it's a practice of exercising for healthy living.
Paul
what chapter is this?
Anderson
please I have probably with calculate please can you please and help me out
John Reply
Sure
Gift
What is Boyce law
Sly Reply
how to convert meter per second to kilometers per hour
grace Reply
Divide with 3.6
Mateo
multiply by (km/1000m) x (3600 s/h) -> 3.6
Muhammad
2 how heat loss is prevented in a vacuum flask
Abdullah Reply
what is science
Helen
logical reasoning for a particular phenomenon.
Ajay
I don't know anything about it 😔. I'm sorry, please forgive 😔
Adarsh
due to non in contact mean no conduction and no convection bec of non conducting base and walls and also their is a grape between the layer like to take the example of thermo flask
Abdul
dimensions v²=u²+2at
Lagben Reply
what if time is not given in finding the average velocity?
Alan Reply
the magnetic circuit of a certain of the flux paths in each of the long and short sides being 25cm and 20cm reprectielectrove. there is an air gap of 2mm long in one the long sides if a flux density of 0.8weber/m is to produce in the magnet of 1500 turns..
Daniel Reply
How do you calculate precision
Sacky Reply
what module is that?
Fillemon
Chemisty 1A?
Fillemon
No it has something to do with measurements bro... What we did today in class
Sacky
Tah bra honestly I didn't understand a thing in that class..when re your Tutorials?
Fillemon
Friday bro... But the topics we did are in this app... Just try to master them quickly before the test dates... Are you done with the Maths sheet
Sacky
I eat ass
Anderson
I'll work on the maths sheet tomorrow bra @Sacky Malyenge but I'll try mastering them
Fillemon
I'll eat your mom's ass with a side of tendies
Anderson
@Fillemon Nanwaapo
Anderson
lol, hush
Emi
There are very large numbers of charged particles in most objects. Why, then, don’t most objects exhibit static electricity?
Bilkisu Reply
Because there's an equal number of negative and positive charges... objects are neutral in nature
NELSON
when a ball rolls on a smooth level ground,the motion of its centre is?
Mary Reply
what is electro magnetic field?
Mary
electromagnetic field is a special type of field been produced by electric charges..!!! like the word electro from Electricity and the word magnetic from Magnetism.. so it is more of a join field..!!!
NELSON
Electromagnetic field is caused by moving electric charge
Muhammad
when a ball rolls on a smooth level ground,the motion of its centre is?
Mumeh
what's the relationship btw displacement and position
Declan Reply
displacement is the change of position 8======✊=D 💦💦
Anderson
what is the meaning of elasticity
Pele Reply
is the ability of a material to or any object to expand to a limit point
king
this is about kinematics you bonk
Emi
Practice Key Terms 5

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask