Difference between insulators and conductors with Examples

  • There is a category of materials in which electric charges can flow easily while in other materials charges cannot flow easily.
  • Substances through which electric charges can flow easily are called conductors.
  • All metals like copper, aluminum,silver  etc. are good conductors of electricity.
  • Substances through which electric charges cannot flow are called insulators.
  • Few examples of insulating materials are glass, rubber, mica, plastic, dry wood , paper, ceramic etc.

Here is the Difference  between insulators and conductors

(1) Insulators

  • Insulators have very wide forbidden energy gap nearly of the order of 5eV or more.
  • Because of this very high energy gap it becomes impossible for electrons present in valence band to cross the gap and reach to the conduction band and this makes electrical conduction a practical impossibility in insulators at room temperature.
  • However at very high temperatures or with very high voltage applied across the ends of the insulator , it may conduct and this is termed as breakdown of an insulator.
  • They are used for separating and avoiding contact between the current carrying conductors .

(2) Conductors

  • Conduction band and valence band overlaps in case of a conductor.
  • Value of forbidden energy gap is zero for conductors in other words it does not exists at all.
  • For conductors or metals , valence band energies are same as conduction band energies and an valence electron can very easily become conduction electron (or, free electron) without any supply of heat energy.
  • This is why metals contain large number of free electrons even at room temperature and are good conductor of electricity.
  • The conductor is used for making electrical wires and cables


Conductors and Insulator Examples

Here are the list of few conductors and insulators

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Related Readings

Comparison of Magnetic Force and electric forces Between two Moving Charges

Electric and Magnetic Fields

Electric Machines : Generator and Motor

Superconductors and Superconductivity

How conductors behave in the presence of electrostatic field

Superconductors: Physical link to strange electronic behavior

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