the actual physical drift speed of electrons is very very low.then how come bulbs light up as soon as the circuit is switched on ?

Asked by  | 22nd Jan, 2011, 06:05: PM

Expert Answer:

Dear student,
charge carriers in the wires of electric circuits are electrons. These electrons are simply supplied by the atoms of copper (or whatever material the wire is made of) within the metal wire. Once the switch is turned to on, the circuit is closed and there is an electric potential difference is established across the two ends of the external circuit. The electric field signal travels at nearly the speed of light to all mobile electrons within the circuit, ordering them to begin marching. As the signal is received, the electrons begin moving along a zigzag path in their usual direction. Thus, the flipping of the switch causes an immediate response throughout every part of the circuit, setting charge carriers everywhere in motion in the same net direction. While the actual motion of charge carriers occurs with a slow speed, the signal that informs them to start moving travels at a fraction of the speed of light.

The electrons that light the bulb in a flashlight do not have to first travel from the switch through 10 cm of wire to the filament. Rather, the electrons that light the bulb immediately after the switch is turned to on are the electrons that are present in the filament itself. As the switch is flipped, all mobile electrons everywhere begin marching; and it is the mobile electrons present in the filament whose motion are immediately responsible for the lighting of its bulb. As those electrons leave the filament, new electrons enter and become the ones that are responsible for lighting the bulb. The electrons are moving together much like the water in the pipes of a home move. When a faucet is turned on, it is the water in the faucet that emerges from the spigot. One does not have to wait a noticeable time for water from the entry point to your home to travel through the pipes to the spigot. The pipes are already filled with water and water everywhere within the water circuit is set in motion at the same time.

Hope this helps.

Thanking you


Answered by  | 23rd Jan, 2011, 08:03: AM

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