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OCR (A) specifications: 5.2.

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Chapter 9
Electric current
Worksheet
Worked examples
Practical 1: Conduction in an electrolyte
Practical 2: Measuring tiny currents
End-of-chapter test
Marking scheme: Worksheet
Marking scheme: End-of-chapter test

Worksheet
Intermediate level
1 State the SI unit for electric charge.
2 Explain what is meant by electric current.
3 Name the charged particles responsible for electric current:

[1]
[1]

in a metal wire connected to a battery;

[1]

in a solution during electrolysis.

[1]

4 Explain what is meant by conventional current.


5 Calculate the charge flow at a point in a wire carrying a current of 1.2 A for

[1]

3.0 minutes.

[3]

6 Calculate the current for a calculator battery delivering a charge


of 3.8 103 C in 120 s.

[3]

Higher level
elementary charge e = 1.6 1019 C

7 A solar cell delivers an average current of 80 mA over a 6-hour period. Calculate


the total charge that flows from the solar cell.

[3]

8 A resistance wire carries a current of 2.0 A. Calculate the number of electrons


flowing past a point in the wire per second.

[3]

9 During a thunderstorm, a lightning strike has a current of 9000 A and transfers


a charge of 18 C to the ground. Calculate:
a

the duration of the lightning strike;

[3]

the number of electrons transferred to the ground.

[2]

Extension
10 A cell provides a constant current to a

Current (A)

circuit. The diagram shows the graph


of current against time.
a

Calculate the flow of charge Q in a


time t when the current is I.
[1]

Justify the statement: the


area under a current against
time graph is equal to the
charge flow.

t
Time (s)

[1]

c Given that the information in b is always true for any graph of current against
time, estimate the total charge delivered by a cell when the current varies as
shown in the graph below.
[2]
I (A)
1.2

0
0

9 Electric current

600

650

t (s)

Total: Score:
26

Cambridge University Press 2005

83

Worked examples
Example 1
A table lamp is operated for a period of 5.0 minutes. Calculate the charge flow through
the lamp given that the current in the lamp is 0.24 A.
The charge flow Q is given by:
Q = It
I = 0.24 A

t = 5.0 60 = 300 s

You must always convert the time into seconds.

Therefore:
Q = 0.24 300
Q = 72 C

Example 2
When switching on a car engine, the battery transfers a charge of 150 C in a time
interval of 850 ms. Calculate the current delivered by the battery and the number
of electrons transferred during this time.
The current is equal to the rate of flow of charge. Therefore:
I=

Q
t

Q = 150 C
I=

t = 0.850 s

It is important to convert milliseconds into seconds.

150
= 177 A
0.850

I 180 A
Each electron has a charge equal to e (1.6 1019 C). The total charge flow is a multiple
of this charge. Therefore, the number N of electrons is given by:
N=

charge flow
e

N=

150 C
= 9.38 1020 electrons
1.6 1019 C

N 9.4 1020 electrons

Tip
The value of the elementary charge e is given on page 2 of all examination papers.
There is no need to remember its value.

84

Cambridge University Press 2005

9 Electric current

Practical 1
Conduction in an electrolyte
Safety
Be careful when handling the ammonium hydroxide solution it is an irritant.
Teachers and technicians should follow their school and departmental safety policies
and should ensure that the employers risk assessment has been carried out before
undertaking any practical work.

Apparatus

optical imaging pins


digital ammeter
microscope slide
crocodile clips
filter paper

ammonium hydroxide solution


crystals of potassium permanganate
stopwatch
24 V d.c. supply
connecting leads

Introduction
The conduction of ions in an electrolyte is shown diagrammatically in figure 9.4 on page
85 of Physics 1. However, it is impossible to see the migration of the ions in a beaker. The
experimental arrangement shown below may be used to demonstrate that electric
current in an electrolyte is due to the slow movement of ions. In this experiment you
also have the opportunity to determine the actual mean drift velocity of the ions.

Procedure

d.c. supply
+

negative ions travel


towards positive
electrode

optical pin

+
crystals

crocodile clip
filter paper soaked in
ammonium hydroxide
solution

1
2
3
4

crystals of potassium
permanganate

microscope slide

Set up the circuit as shown in the diagram.


Clip the filter paper and optical pins onto the microscope slide with the
crocodile clips.
Soak the filter paper with the ammonium hydroxide solution.
Place a few crystals of potassium permanganate on the soaked filter paper (midway
between the two pins).

Switch on the supply. The ammeter shows that there is an immediate flow of
electric current. A purple stain (negative manganate ions) travels slowly towards
the positive electrode.

The actual velocity of the ions is very slow. The mean drift velocity of the ions may
be determined by measuring the length of the purple stain over a period of time.
Make appropriate measurements and estimate the mean drift velocity of the ions.

Guidance for teachers


In trials, the following results were obtained using a 24 V supply:
length of purple stain = 1.0 cm
time = 6.0 min
mean drift velocity 3 105 m s1
9 Electric current

Cambridge University Press 2005

85

Practical 2
Measuring tiny currents
Safety
A coulombmeter is an extremely sensitive instrument and can be permanently damaged
if the input charge is large. Under no circumstances should the cell be connected directly
to the coulombmeter. The 20 M resistor is vital in keeping the current very small. It is
also important to keep the time interval small. Teachers and technicians should follow
their school and departmental safety policies and should ensure that the employers
risk assessment has been carried out before undertaking any practical work.

Apparatus
1.5 V cell
switch
coulombmeter

20 M resistor
stopwatch

Introduction
We use an ammeter to measure current. In this experiment, you will use a coulombmeter
Q
and the equation I = to determine a very small current in a resistor, using the
t
arrangement shown in the diagram.

Procedure

VITAL SAFETY RESISTOR

20 M
nC

coulombmeter
S

1
2
3
4

Set up the circuit as shown in the diagram.


Reset the coulombmeter to zero.
Close the switch S for a short time interval t. Record the value of t. The flow of
charge Q in this time interval is measured by the coulombmeter.
Determine the current in the resistor using the equation:
I=

Q
t

Guidance for teachers


In trials, the following results were obtained using a 1.5 V cell:
t 2.1 s

86

Q 150 nC

I 7 108 A

Cambridge University Press 2005

9 Electric current

End-of-chapter test
Answer all questions.
elementary charge e = 1.6 1019 C

1
2

State the SI unit for electric current.

[1]

The diagram below shows an electrical circuit.

3
4

Indicate with an arrow the direction of the flow of electrons in the circuit.

[1]

The ammeter reading is 60 mA. Calculate the flow of charge through the
filament lamp over a time period of 300 s.

[3]

An electric fan is supplied by a constant current of 0.14 A. Calculate the time


for which it is operated when the total charge flow is 170 C.

[2]

A girl walking on a carpet acquires a static charge. When she touches a metal tap, a
small electric spark jumps between her and the tap. A charge of 24 C is transferred
by the spark in 1.2 ms. Calculate:
a

the average current due to the electric spark;

[2]

the number of electrons transferred to the tap.

[2]
Total: Score:
11

9 Electric current

Cambridge University Press 2005

87

Marking scheme
Worksheet
1 Coulomb (C) [1]
2 Electric current is the flow of charged particles. [1]
3 a Electrons [1]
b

Ions [1]

4 Conventional current is the flow of positive charges moving towards the negative
electrode. [1]

5 Q = It [1]; Q = 1.2 (3.0 60) [1]; Q = 216 C 220 C [1]


6 I = Q [1]
t

I=

3.8 103
[1]
120

I 3.2 105 A [1]

7 Q = It [1]; Q = 0.080 (6.0 3600) [1]; Q = 1.73 103 C 1.7 103 C [1]
8 Charge per second = 2.0 C s1 [1]
Number of electrons per second =

2.0 C s1
[1]
1.6 1019 C

= 1.25 1019 s1 1.3 1019 s1 [1]

9 a t = Q [1]; t = 18 [1]; t = 2.0 103 s (2.0 ms) [1]


I

9000

Number of electrons =

18 C
[1]
1.6 1019 C

= 1.13 1020 1.1 1020 [1]

10 a Q = It [1]

88

Area under graph = area of rectangle = It [1]

1
Area (1.2 600) + ( 1.2 50) [1];
2

Cambridge University Press 2005

charge = 750 C [1]

9 Electric current

Marking scheme
End-of-chapter test
1
2

Ampere (A) [1]


a

Direction of arrow from negative to positive. [1]

electron
flow

Q = It [1];

t =

Q = 0.060 300 [1];

Q = 18 C [1]

Q
170
, t =
[1]
I
0.14

t =1.2 103 s (20 minutes) [1]

24 106
Q
, I=
[1];
t
1.2 103

I=

Number of electrons =

I = 2.0 102 A [1]

24 106 C
[1]
1.6 1019 C

= 1.5 1014 [1]

9 Electric current

Cambridge University Press 2005

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