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Q & A: what keeps electrons in copper?

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Most recent answer: 07/06/2011
Q:
Inside a conductor free electrons is present then why electron will not fall in the ground when a conductor is broken?
- Kisslove Dewangan (age 15)
Dalli Rajhara,C.G (India)
A:
Some of the electrons are "free" in the following sense. Their waves spread out over many atoms. They can move easily in the material in response to forces, such as electrical fields. However, the energy of the electrons in a metal is much lower than in a vacuum or in a sparse gas. Even when the electrons can move into something else (say because the metal is touching the ground), once a tiny fraction of them has left the metal is left with a positive electrical charge. That positive charge holds on to the rest of the electrons.

Mike W.

(published on 07/06/2011)

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