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Physics for Kids
Electricity Glossary and Terms
Ampere - The ampere is the standard unit of measure of electric current. It is sometimes written as amp.
Alternating current (AC) - An electric current that reverses direction on a periodic basis. It is widely used to transport power on power lines.
Battery - A device that stores and produces electricity from chemical cells.
Capacitor - A basic electrical component that stores electric charge. Capacitors are made from two electrical conductors separated by an insulator.
Conductor - A material that allows the free flow of electric charge. Copper wiring is the most widely used electrical conductor.
Coulomb's law - A law of physics that describes the electrostatic interaction between charged particles.
Diode - An electronic component that only allows current flow in one direction.
Direct current (DC) - A type of current that only flows in one direction (unlike AC which periodically reverses direction).
Electric charge - This is a basic characteristic of matter that is based on the balance of protons (positive charge) and electrons (negative charge). The standard unit for electric charge is the coulomb.
Electric circuit - An electric circuit is a collection of electronic components connected by a conductive wire that allows for electric current to flow.
Electric current - Electric current is the flow of electric charge through a material. The standard unit for electric current is the ampere.
Electric potential - The electric potential is the difference in electrical charge between two points in a circuit. It is also called the voltage. The standard unit for electric potential is volts.
Electromagnetism - The interaction between magnetic fields and electric currents.
Electron - A basic subatomic particle found in all atoms, electrons carry electricity by flowing from one atom to the next in a conductive material.
Farad - The standard unit of measure for capacitance.
Henry - The standard unit of measure for inductance.
Inductor - A basic passive electrical component that resists changes in electric current. Inductors are generally made by winding or coiling a wire, sometimes around a magnetic core. The unit of measure for an inductor is the Henry.
Insulator - A material in which an electronic charge does not flow freely and does not conduct the flow of electric current.
Magnetic field - The magnetic influence produced by electric currents and magnetic materials.
Ohm - The standard unit of measure for resistance.
Ohm's law - A law of physics that describes the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance using the equation V = IR.
Resistor - A basic electronic component that prevents the flow of electric current.
Semiconductor - A material that behaves between a conductor and an insulator depending on the conditions. Silicon is a widely used semiconductor in electronics.
Static electricity - The build up of an electric charge on the surface of an object. The charge remains in one area rather than flowing to another area.
Transformer - An electrical component that transfers electrical energy using inductive coupling between two winding circuits.
Transistor - A semiconductor device used in an electric circuit to regulate current flow to act as a gate, switch, or amplifier for electronic signals.
Volt - The standard unit of measure for electric potential (voltage).
Watt - The standard unit of measure used for electric power.
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