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conductors & insulators

Conductors and Insulators
Image: iStockphoto.com/gornostaj

Conductors and Insulators

Some materials allow an easy flow of electrons — that is, they conduct electricity — and are known as conductors. Insulators, such as the wrapping around electric cables, inhibit the flow of electricity and can prevent it from escaping.

Find out which materials conduct and which insulate and under what kinds of conditions. It’s a complex phenomenon with unexpected surprises!

The Physics Classroom
Who Can Resist?

Who Can Resist?

Are pickles insulators or conductors? How about an eraser, a penny, or a piece of bread? Test and sort a bunch of common items to uncover their properties. More...

Interactive
Culverco
Conductivity, Energy Levels, Quantum Mechanics

Conductivity, Energy Levels, Quantum Mechanics

Turn on the light and start the voltage to get electrons rolling in this interactive. Then test different materials for conductivity. More...

Interactive
PhET
Conductors, Insulators & Resistors

Conductors, Insulators & Resistors

With conductors, insulators, and resistors, engineers can allow electric current to flow freely, or block it, or block it a bit. Find out more with this interactive feature. More...

Interactive
Wisconsin Technical Colleges
Conductive Polymers

Conductive Polymers

Normally plastics don’t conduct electricity, but these polymers do. The people who award Nobel Prizes bring you this game that allows you to create futuristic houses that others can visit and vote for! More...

Game
The Nobel Foundation
Conductors

Conductors

What are the properties that separate the conductors from the insulators? And what about those semiconductors and superconductors? Get the facts here. More...

Article
PBS
Does Water Conduct Electricity?

Does Water Conduct Electricity?

Pure water doesn’t conduct electricity. Neither does dry salt. But together, water and salt can light it up. Why? More...

Video
MIT
Electrically-Conducting Plastic Gets Simple and Affordable

Electrically-Conducting Plastic Gets Simple and Affordable

Plastics normally are pitiful conductors of electricity, but a new technique turns them into flexible and inexpensive conductors, making possible a lot of potential applications. More...

Article
WIRED
Laser Pulse Makes Insulator Conduct Like a Metal

Laser Pulse Makes Insulator Conduct Like a Metal

Discover how short pulses of laser light turn a traditional insulator into a metal and allow it to act as a conductor. More...

Article
Physics World
Paper Circuit!

Paper Circuit!

Can you really create an electrical circuit with a graphite pencil on paper? How? It all has to do with the conductive properties of graphite. More...

Video
Scientific Tuesdays
QUEST Lab: Aerogel

QUEST Lab: Aerogel

Materials chemist Alex Gash introduces aerogel, the lightest solid substance on the planet and a great insulator. It looks like frozen smoke. It's a great insulator. Watch to see if it might be used to clean up oil spills. More...

Video
QUEST

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