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24.001 Electromotive force

 

Doug Lowe and Dickon Ross
Electronics All-In-One for Dummies, 2014
Pages 27+28, Electromotive force

 

27

Electric current is what happens when the random exchange of electrons that occurs constantly in a conductor becomes organised and begins to move in the same direction.

When current flows through a conductor such as a copper wire, all those electrons that were previously moving about randomly get together and start moving in the same direction. A very interesting effect then happens: the electrons transfer their electromagnetic force through the wire almost instantaneously. The electrons themselves all move relatively slowly around a few millimetres per second. But as such electron leaves an atom and joins another atom, that second atom immediately loses an electron to a third atom, which immediately loses an electron to the fourth and so on trillions upon trillions of times.

 

28

In its natural state, the electrons in a conductor such as copper freely move from atom to atom, but in a completely random way. To get them to move together in one direction, all you have to do is give them a push. The technical term for this push is electromotive force (abbreviated EMF, or sometimes simply E). You know it more commonly as voltage.

 

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