The electrical Resistance of an electrical or electronic component or device is generally defined as being the ratio of the voltage difference across it to the current flowing through it, basic Ohm´s Law principals. The problem with using resistance as a measurement is that it depends very much on the physical size of the material being measured as well as the material out of which it is made. For example, If we were to increase the length of the material (making it longer) its resistance would also increase.

Likewise, if we increased its diameter (making it fatter) its resistance would then decrease. So we want to be able to define the material in such a way as to indicate its ability to either conduct or oppose the flow of electrical current through it no matter what its size or shape happens to be. The quantity that is used to indicate this specific resistance is called Resistivity and is given the Greek symbol of ρ, (Rho). Resistivity is measured in Ohm-metres, ( Ω-m ) and is the inverse to conductivity.

If the resistivity of various materials is compared, they can be classified into three main groups, Conductors, Insulators and Semi-conductors as shown below.

Notice also that there is a very small margin between the resistivity of the conductors such as silver and gold, compared to a much larger margin for the resistivity of the insulators between glass and quartz.

Note that the resistivity of all the materials at any one time also depends upon their temperature.


  • Updated
    Jul 14, 2013
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