Electrical Properties of Materials

  • Rolf E. Hummel


One of the principal characteristics of materials is their ability (or lack of ability) to conduct electrical current. Indeed, materials are classified by this property, that is, they are divided into conductors, semiconductors, and nonconductors. (The latter are often called insulators or dielectrics.) The conductivity, σ, of different materials at room temperature spans more than 25 orders of magnitude, as depicted in Figure 11.1. Moreover, if one takes the conductivity of superconductors, measured at low temperatures, into consideration, this span extends to 40 orders of magnitude (using an estimated conductivity for superconductors of about 1020 1/Ω cm). This is the largest known variation in a physical property and is only comparable to the ratio between the diameter of the universe (about 1026 m) and the radius of an electron (10-14 m).


Electrical Property Conduction Band Valence Band Fermi Energy Electric Field Strength 
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Suggestions for Further Study

  1. A.R. Blythe, Electrical Properties of Polymers, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1979).Google Scholar
  2. R.H. Bube, Electronic Properties of Crystalline Solids, 3rd Edition, Academic, Cambridge, MA (1992).Google Scholar
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  9. S.M. Sze, Physics of Semiconductor Devices, 2nd Edition, Wiley, New York (1981).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf E. Hummel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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