Types of Electric Conductors Electrolytes and Nonelectrolytes

Definition of Electric Conductor

There are some materials through which the electric current can flow. We call these materials as conductors of electricity. Also, we also call these materials as electric conductors.

Types of Electric Conductor

There are mainly two types of electric conductors. The first one which changes its chemical composition when the electric current flows through it. The second one is the conductor which does not change its composition during flowing of currents through it.

Electrolyte Type Electric Conductor

Diluted sulphuric (H2SO4), diluted nitric (HNO3) and diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl) are conductors of electricity. These are well-known examples of electrolyte. Also, bases like sodium hydroxide (NaOH), potassium hydroxide (KOH) etc can also carry electric current. In addition to this water solution of sodium chloride (NaCl), copper sulfate (CuSO4) etc are conductor electricity. These all chemicals belong to electrolyte family. So, electrolysis takes place in them for carrying electricity.

Theory of Electrolysis

theory of electrolysis

The theory behind electrolysis is quite simple. Actually, in diluted condition, all these chemicals exist in their ionic form. In other words, they exist in forms of positive and negative ions in the solution. As soon as we immerse a positive and a negative electrode in the electrolyte the electrostatic force starts acting on the ions. Due to the electrostatic force, the movement of these ions takes place. As a result, the negative ions come towards the positive electrode.  Similarly, the positive ions come towards the negative electrode. Hence, the exchange of electrons within electrodes and ions takes place. Due to these electrons exchanges, electricity starts flowing. Provided we connect one external circuit with the electrodes.

Non-Electrolyte Type Electric Conductor

Metals, some alloys and some liquids like mercury belong to this family. Also, the theory behind the conduction of electricity in this type of electric conductor is simple.


For example, we can consider the case of copper wire. When current flows through it, no chemical change takes place in the conductor. However, only the temperature of the conductor rises. This is because, during the flow of current through it, only the movement of free electrons takes place. When we apply a potential difference across a metallic conductor, a force acts on the electrons inside the conductor. Due to this force, the free electrons in the conductor starts drifting towards the higher potential end. And this causes an electric current through the conductor. Free electrons do not strongly associate with atoms. So, there is no change in the physical and chemical properties of the conductor during the flow of current.

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