Why is silver a good conductor of electricity

In physics, when we consider a substance from the viewpoint of electrical applications, we say that the material is either a conductor or an insulator. A conductor allows electricity to flow through it, while an insulator prevents this. The properties that determine which category a material falls into are conductance and resistance. They are inversely proportionate to each other — the higher the conductance of a material, the lower its resistance. In order to determine what makes a good conductor or insulator, it is important to know what happens when we pass electricity through a substance.

Every material is made up of millions of atoms. The kind of atoms determines what material it is in particular and what properties it possesses. Each atom is made up of several discrete parts, usually including several electrons. These electrons have a minuscule negative charge and are spinning rapidly in orbit around the nucleus of the atom. When we talk about an “electric current”, what we are really talking about is a flow of electrons. This occurs when we apply a potential difference or voltage across the ends of a conductor (a battery for example), and this makes the electrons move.

It is important to realize that even the very best conductor will still offer some resistance to the flow of electrons. Attempts to create a superconductor with no resistance have not really gotten anywhere close, and it may not even be possible. This is because even just the energy expended to move an electron can be considered a resistance. Resistors used in electronic circuits are basically specially designed to control the flow of current by offering a measurable damping effect while still allowing electricity to pass. Other devices such as transistors and diodes are known as semiconductors as they have the properties of both conductors and insulators — they provide some very useful capabilities to a circuit.

Among the best conductors are several expensive metals such as silver and gold. Copper is a good conductor with a relatively low price, while aluminum is not considered a good conductor. The reason why some metals have a high conductance and low resistance is largely due to their atomic makeup. They tend to have lots of free electrons that are easy to transfer between atoms. Insulators on the other hand are very highly resistant to electron flow and these substances generally can be used as safety materials when dealing with electricity. Good insulators include glass, ceramics, wood, rubber and plastic.

In summary — silver is a good conductor of electricity like many other metals because the atoms that make up a piece of silver will have many free electrons that can be moved by applying voltage across it. These moving electrons are known as an electric current and they are necessary for making electrical and electronic equipment work correctly. Due to the lower cost of copper compared to silver, many circuits make use of copper instead, but if it was cheaper silver would probably be used.