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A complicated circuit diagram shows multiple resistances and voltage sources wired in series and in parallel. The circuit has three arms. The first has a cell of e m f script E sub one and internal resistance r sub one in series with a resistor R sub two. The second has a cell of e m f script E sub two and internal resistance r sub two in series with resistor R sub three. The third arm has a resistor R sub one. The three arms are connected in parallel.
This circuit cannot be reduced to a combination of series and parallel connections. Kirchhoff’s rules, special applications of the laws of conservation of charge and energy, can be used to analyze it. (Note: The script E in the figure represents electromotive force, emf.)

Kirchhoff’s rules

  • Kirchhoff’s first rule—the junction rule. The sum of all currents entering a junction must equal the sum of all currents leaving the junction.
  • Kirchhoff’s second rule—the loop rule. The algebraic sum of changes in potential around any closed circuit path (loop) must be zero.

Explanations of the two rules will now be given, followed by problem-solving hints for applying Kirchhoff’s rules, and a worked example that uses them.

Kirchhoff’s first rule

Kirchhoff’s first rule (the junction rule    ) is an application of the conservation of charge to a junction; it is illustrated in [link] . Current is the flow of charge, and charge is conserved; thus, whatever charge flows into the junction must flow out. Kirchhoff’s first rule requires that I 1 = I 2 + I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } =I rSub { size 8{2} } +I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} (see figure). Equations like this can and will be used to analyze circuits and to solve circuit problems.

Making connections: conservation laws

Kirchhoff’s rules for circuit analysis are applications of conservation laws    to circuits. The first rule is the application of conservation of charge, while the second rule is the application of conservation of energy. Conservation laws, even used in a specific application, such as circuit analysis, are so basic as to form the foundation of that application.

This schematic drawing shows a T-junction, with one current I sub one flowing into the T and two currents I sub two and I sub three flowing out of the T junction.
The junction rule. The diagram shows an example of Kirchhoff’s first rule where the sum of the currents into a junction equals the sum of the currents out of a junction. In this case, the current going into the junction splits and comes out as two currents, so that I 1 = I 2 + I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } =I rSub { size 8{2} } +I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} . Here I 1 size 12{I rSub { size 8{1} } } {} must be 11 A, since I 2 size 12{I rSub { size 8{2} } } {} is 7 A and I 3 size 12{I rSub { size 8{3} } } {} is 4 A.

Kirchhoff’s second rule

Kirchhoff’s second rule (the loop rule    ) is an application of conservation of energy. The loop rule is stated in terms of potential, V size 12{V} {} , rather than potential energy, but the two are related since PE elec = qV size 12{ ital "PE" rSub { size 8{"elec"} } = ital "qV"} {} . Recall that emf is the potential difference of a source when no current is flowing. In a closed loop, whatever energy is supplied by emf must be transferred into other forms by devices in the loop, since there are no other ways in which energy can be transferred into or out of the circuit. [link] illustrates the changes in potential in a simple series circuit loop.

Kirchhoff’s second rule requires emf Ir IR 1 IR 2 = 0 size 12{"emf" - ital "Ir" - ital "IR" rSub { size 8{1} } - ital "IR" rSub { size 8{2} } =0} {} . Rearranged, this is emf = Ir + IR 1 + IR 2 size 12{"emf"= ital "Ir"+ ital "IR" rSub { size 8{1} } + ital "IR" rSub { size 8{2} } } {} , which means the emf equals the sum of the IR size 12{ ital "IR"} {} (voltage) drops in the loop.

Part a shows a schematic of a simple circuit that has a voltage source in series with two load resistors. The voltage source has an e m f, labeled script E, of eighteen volts. The voltage drops are one volt across the internal resistance and twelve volts and five volts across the two load resistances. Part b is a perspective drawing corresponding to the circuit in part a. The charge is raised in potential by the e m f and lowered by the resistances.
The loop rule. An example of Kirchhoff’s second rule where the sum of the changes in potential around a closed loop must be zero. (a) In this standard schematic of a simple series circuit, the emf supplies 18 V, which is reduced to zero by the resistances, with 1 V across the internal resistance, and 12 V and 5 V across the two load resistances, for a total of 18 V. (b) This perspective view represents the potential as something like a roller coaster, where charge is raised in potential by the emf and lowered by the resistances. (Note that the script E stands for emf.)

Questions & Answers

Why does earth exert only a tiny downward pull?
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Islam
Why is light bright?
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an 8.0 capacitor is connected by to the terminals of 60Hz whoes rms voltage is 150v. a.find the capacity reactance and rms to the circuit
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a submersible pump is dropped a borehole and hits the level of water at the bottom of the borehole 5 seconds later.determine the level of water in the borehole
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aron Reply
power P = Work done per second W/ t. It means the more power, the stronger machine
Sphere
e.g. heart Uses 2 W per beat.
Rohit
A spherica, concave shaving mirror has a radius of curvature of 32 cm .what is the magnification of a persons face. when it is 12cm to the left of the vertex of the mirror
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Shii
1.75cm
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the magnification k = f/(f-d) with focus f = R/2 =16 cm; d =12 cm k = 16/4 =4
Sphere
what do we call velocity
Kings
A weather vane is some sort of directional arrow parallel to the ground that may rotate freely in a horizontal plane. A typical weather vane has a large cross-sectional area perpendicular to the direction the arrow is pointing, like a “One Way” street sign. The purpose of the weather vane is to indicate the direction of the wind. As wind blows pa
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If a prism is fully imersed in water then the ray of light will normally dispersed or their is any difference?
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What was the previous far point of a patient who had laser correction that reduced the power of her eye by 7.00 D, producing a normal distant vision power of 50.0 D for her?
Jaydie Reply
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
Jaydie
What is the far point of a person whose eyes have a relaxed power of 50.5 D?
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A young woman with normal distant vision has a 10.0% ability to accommodate (that is, increase) the power of her eyes. What is the closest object she can see clearly?
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In what ways does physics affect the society both positively or negatively
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Ju
And don't forget to check out YouTube videos on the subject. Videos offer a different visual way to learn easier.
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what is velocity
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the speed of something in a given direction.
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Practice Key Terms 4

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