Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Electricalampere
The conductors and insulators are two crucial components used in electricity. The conductors easily allow the electric current through it. On the other hand, insulators impede the flow of current through it.
Three types of materials are widely used in electrical engineering: conductors, insulators, and semiconductors. First, we will discuss what is a conductor and an insulator. We will then discuss the difference between the conductors and insulators.
What is a Conductor?
A material that quickly passes the electric current through it is called a conductor. All metals are generally good conductors of electricity and heat.
The electric conductors have free electrons, and they lead the flow of electric current through them. The flow of electrons through the conductor takes place with the application of a voltage across it.
If we compare the electric conductivity of the conductor, semiconductor, and insulator, the conductivity of the conductor is the highest among all of them. The conductors have more free electrons compared to insulators and semiconductors. Thus, the higher number of free electrons causes more electric current through the material.
If the number of electrons in the outermost orbit of an atom is less than four, then we can say that the material is a good conductor of electricity. The smaller number of electrons in the outermost orbit shows that there is a less forbidden gap, and the electrons can quickly jump from the valance band to the conduction band on the application of voltage or external energy.
The forbidden gap between the valance band and the conduction band is almost nil, and both bands are overlapped in the conductor,
Silver, copper, aluminum, gold, and platinum are a few examples of conductors.
What is an Insulator?
An Insulator has just the opposite characteristics of a conductor. The insulator does not allow the current through it. The electrons in the outermost orbit of an insulator are closely packed, and it is tough to release these electrons from it.
The insulators have four electrons in their outermost shell, and there are negligible free electrons in the material.
The flow of electric current depends on the gap between the conduction and valance band, which is very wide for insulating material. Hence, the insulators are bad conductors of electricity.
There is a vast energy gap(forbidden energy gap) between the valance band and the conduction band in an insulator.
Wood, paper, air, mica, glass, porcelain, plastic & rubber are examples of insulators.
Differences between Conductors and Insulators
The below table explains the differences between conductors and insulators.
Conductors vs Insulators