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Why is copper the chosen metal in electrical wires?
- lisa (age 13)
There are several metals which conduct electricity particularly well at
room temperature. These include copper, silver, and aluminum. Silver is
too expensive for routine use. Aluminum forms a hard insulating oxide
layer over time, so aluminum connections can fail, causing fires.
Aluminum wires are thus not used anymore for house wiring. Copper just
ends up with the best combination of conductivity, cost, flexibility,
and resistance to corrosion.
(published on 10/22/2007)
Follow-Up #1: current through liquid metal
Can you pass a current through liquid or molten copper? Will it hold consistent charge throughout the entire liquid?
- Timmy (age 16)
Yes, melted copper conducts, though not as well as solid copper.
I'm not sure what the second question means.
(published on 06/14/08)
Follow-up on this answer.