Does Iron Conduct Electricity? 9 Facts (Why, How & Uses)


Iron is a metal with significantly less resistance, which makes it a good conductor. In this article, we shall talk about whether iron can conduct electricity or not.

Iron can conduct electricity because it has eight valence electrons that can dislocate/ migrate to conduct the flow of electricity. The valence electronic configuration of the iron is 4s2 3d6. The electrical conductivity of the iron metal is high due to these eight electrons.

The electric flux is zero inside the iron, producing the electric field surrounding its region. Let us discuss the conductivity of the iron, why it is not used in electrical wires, and the different properties that make it a good conductor of electricity and heat.

Why does iron conduct electricity?

The free charges/ electrons must be available for a substance to conduct electricity. Let us see why iron can conduct electricity.

The iron conducts electricity because the free available electrons conduct the current flow across its surface. These free electrons are accumulated on the iron surface upon dislocating/ exciting from the atoms after gaining sufficient energy required to excite in the higher energy levels.

How to calculate electric conductivity of iron?

Electrical conductivity is a property of matter that determines the total electric flux flowing through the matter. Let us see how to calculate the electric conductivity of iron.

The electrical conductivity of iron (σ) is calculated using the formula σ = 1/ρ; here, ρ is the resistivity. The resistivity is a property of the matter to oppose the flow of current/ electric flux through it; thus, conductivity is less for the material with high resistivity.

The formula that gives the material’s resistivity is written as ρ = (RA)/L, where R is the resistance of the matter, A is its area, and L is the length of a conductor through which the electric flux lines are parallel across the length.

Using this formula, we can write the expression for the electrical conductivity as σ = L/(RA). From this formula, we can state that the conductivity of a material is directly proportional to its length and inversely related to its resistance and the area of the cross-section.

Properties of Iron

The Earth’s core is mainly made of iron, a denser element. We shall now briefly list some of the properties of iron that are vital to consider in our discussion.

  • Iron is a soft metal and forms a brutal structure by adding impurities.
  • The iron is ferromagnetic, and above its curie temperature, it is paramagnetic.
  • Iron has a bcc structure with atomic number 26.
  • The density of Iron is 7.87 g/cm3.
  • The melting and boiling point of Iron is 1538 0C and 2861 0C, respectively.

Uses of Iron as an Electric Conductor

Iron is a good conductor of heat and electricity and can be used in electronic devices and equipment. Let us list some examples where iron is used as an electric conductor.

  • The cast-iron and steel utensils are used for cooking food in the oven.
  • The iron used to press clothes is achieved by heating iron by passing electricity.
  • The hair straighteners have two ceramic plates made up of iron.
  • The iron-based metal like aluminum and steel are used in casing electronic devices.

Is Iron a Good Conductor of Electricity?

Being a metal, iron has good properties of a conductor. But we need to determine whether it is a good conductor of electricity or not.

Iron is a good but not the best conductor of electricity because it has a magnetic moment that makes the electrons spin relatively, reducing the flow and agility of the charge. The decrease in the velocity of charges lowers the electric flux flow rate and hence the conductivity of the iron.

Does the conductivity of iron vary with temperature?

The motion/agility of particles increases with the rising temperature. Let us see whether the conductivity of the iron is also affected by the temperature.

The conductivity of the iron decreases with the increasing temperature because the material’s resistance always increases with the temperature and does not allow the flow of charges through the conductor as the thermal velocity of the charges increases.

The free electrons become more agile with the acquired heat energy, moving randomly, blocking the path of the current/ electric flux flow through the conductor. Since the conductivity is inversely related to the resistivity, the conductivity of iron decreases with the rising temperature/ heat energy.

What is the resistance of a iron wire?

Resistance is the ability of the matter to resist the flow of charges/ current through it. Let us now ponder upon the resistance of an iron wire.

The resistance of an iron wire is given as R = ρL/A, where R is resistance, ρ is the resistivity of iron which is equal to 1 × 10-7 Ώm, L is the length of the wire, and A is the cross-sectional area of the wire. It is directly proportional to the resistivity of an iron and the length of a wire.

The resistance of an iron wire is inversely related to its cross-sectional area as the density of the electric flux decreases with a greater cross-sectional area. The resistance of the wire is directly proportional to the temperature and can be reduced by lowering the temperature of the wire.

Why is iron a poor electric conductor than copper?

Copper is widely used in electrical wires but not iron. Let us discuss why iron does not have good conducting properties as copper.

Iron is a poor electric conductor than copper because it is ferromagnetic, implying that it has magnetic moments that hinder the flow of charges while copper is paramagnetic. The valence electrons of copper are easily given away and flow across the length of the conductor but so is not the case in Fe.

Why is iron a good conductor of heat?

Good conductors allow the flow of heat energy across its cross-sectional area. Let us discuss what makes iron a good conductor of heat.

Iron is a good conductor of heat because the free electrons of iron can carry and transmit the heat energy acquired from the surrounding from one point of matter to another. These free electrons vibrate with escalating heat energy and transmit it further to the surrounding particles.

Conclusion

We can conclude with this article that iron is a good electric conductor, but its magnetic moment retracts it from being the best electric conductor. It is a good conductor of heat and is used for various purposes. Its resistivity depends upon the temperature, and its conductivity reduces with rising temperature.

AKSHITA MAPARI

Hi, I’m Akshita Mapari. I have done M.Sc. in Physics. I have worked on projects like Numerical modeling of winds and waves during cyclone, Physics of toys and mechanized thrill machines in amusement park based on Classical Mechanics. I have pursued a course on Arduino and have accomplished some mini projects on Arduino UNO. I always like to explore new zones in the field of science. I personally believe that learning is more enthusiastic when learnt with creativity. Apart from this, I like to read, travel, strumming on guitar, identifying rocks and strata, photography and playing chess. Connect me on LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/akshita-mapari-b38a68122

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