How Does Electricity Travel Through Wires?


According to the Union University Department of Physics, when an electric current passes through a solid copper wire, the electrons move forward, but the protons within the positive atoms of copper do not. Electricity travelling through a wire moves at an extremely fast speed and is capable of powering anything from a light bulb to a laptop.

Electrical energy is created by the movement of atoms containing positive, negative and neutral charges. Charge particles also come in the form of muons, positrons and antiprotons; however, the electricity contained in most electrical devices is limited to positive protons and negative electrons. Both electrons and protons carry electric charges of equal strength that can flow through solid metals. When the switch is turned on, electrons have to work their way through the billions of atoms in the wire in order to provide power to the connected appliance or electronic device.

According to SeaPerch, copper is a commonly used as a conductor in wires because it is more efficient and conductive than any other metal. Copper wires are also stronger compared to conductors, such as aluminum, which makes them more resistant to stretching, neck-down, creep, nicks and breaks. They are also an economical choice for electric companies since they do not require extra maintenance or complicated installation procedures.