# Current

is the rate of flow of . In metal wires, move and cause a current. The following conditions are needed for an to flow:

• a source of , such as a , cell or power pack
• a closed , which provides a complete path for the charges to move through

Originally, current was defined as the flow of charges from positive to negative. Scientists later discovered that current is actually the flow of electrons, from negative to positive. The original definition is now referred to as āconventional currentā, to avoid confusion with the newer definition of current.

## Calculating current

To calculate current, use the equation:

charge flow = current Ć time

This is when:

• charge flow is measured in coulombs (C)
• current is measured in amperes (amps) (A)
• time is measured in seconds (s)

Each electron in a circuit carries a very small charge but there are many billions of electrons present. Many everyday currents for small household appliances will be measured in milliamps, mA: 1,000 mA = 1 A.

## Example calculation

A current of 60 mA flows through a lamp for half an hour. Calculate the charge transferred.

60 mA = 60 Ć· 1,000 = 0.060 A

0.5 hours = 30 minutes

= 30 Ć 60 = 1,800 s

charge flow = current Ć time

= 0.060 Ć 1,800

= 108 C

Question

A charge of 5.0 C is transferred through a wire in 20 s. Calculate the current that flows in the wire.

First rearrange the equation to find current:

charge flow = current Ć time

Move on to Test