Electrical resistivity (also known as specific electrical resistance) is a measure of how strongly a material opposes the flow of electric current. A low resistivity indicates a material that readily allows the movement of electrical charge. The SI unit of electrical resistivity is the ohm meter.


The electrical resistivity ρ ("rho") of a material is given by

:{ ho={R left. frac{A}{ell} ight.where

:"ρ" is the static resistivity (measured in ohm metres, Ω-m);:"R" is the electrical resistance of a uniform specimen of the material (measured in ohms, Ω);:"ell" is the length of the piece of material (measured in metres, m);:"A" is the cross-sectional area of the specimen (measured in square metres, m²).

Electrical resistivity can also be defined as

: ho={E over J}


:"E" is the magnitude of the electric field (measured in volts per metre, V/m);:"J" is the magnitude of the current density (measured in amperes per square metre, A/m²).

Finally, electrical resistivity is also defined as the inverse of the conductivity "σ" ("sigma"), of the material, or

: ho = {1oversigma}.

Table of resistivities

This table shows the resistivity and temperature coefficient of various materials at 20 °C (68 °F)

*The numbers in this column increase or decrease the significand portion of the resistivity. For example, at 30°C (303.15 K), the resistivity of silver is 1.65×10−8. This is calculated as Δρ = α ΔT ρo where ρo is the resistivity at 20°C and α is the temperature coefficient

Temperature dependence

In general, electrical resistivity of metals increases with temperature, while the resistivity of semiconductors decreases with increasing temperature. In both cases, electron-phonon interactions can play a key role. At high temperatures, the resistance of a metal increases linearly with temperature. As the temperature of a metal is reduced, the temperature dependence of resistivity follows a power law function of temperature. Mathematically the temperature dependence of the resistivity ρ of a metal is given by the Bloch–Grüneisen formula:

: ho(T)= ho(0)+Aleft(frac{T}{Theta_R} ight)^nint_0^{frac{Theta_R}{Tfrac{x^n}{(e^x-1)(1-e^{-x})}dx

where ho(0) is the residual resistivity due to defect scattering, A is a constant that depends on the velocity of electrons at the fermi surface, the Debye radius and the number density of electrons in the metal. Theta_R is the Debye temperature as obtained from resistivity measurements and matches very closely with the values of Debye temperature obtained from specific heat measurements. n is an integer that depends upon the nature of interaction:

#n=5 implies that the resistance is due to scattering of electrons by phonons (as it is for simple metals)
#n=3 implies that the resistance is due to s-d electron scattering (as is the case for transition metals)
#n=2 implies that the resistance is due to electron-electron interaction.As the temperature of the metal is sufficiently reduced (so as to 'freeze' all the phonons), the resistivity usually reaches a constant value, known as the residual resistivity. This value depends not only on the type of metal, but on its purity and thermal history. The value of the residual resistivity of a metal is decided by its impurity concentration. Some materials lose all electrical resistivity at sufficiently low temperatures, due to an effect known as superconductivity.

An even better approximation of the temperature dependence of the resistivity of a semiconductor is given by the Steinhart–Hart equation:

:1/T = A + B ln( ho) + C (ln( ho))^3 ,

where "A", "B" and "C" are the so-called Steinhart–Hart coefficients.

This equation is used to calibrate thermistors.

In non-crystalline semi-conductors, conduction can occur by charges quantum tunnelling from one localised site to another. This is known as variable range hopping and has the characteristic form of ho = Ae^{T^{-1/n, where n=2,3,4 depending on the dimensionality of the system.

Complex resistivity

When analyzing the response of materials to alternating electric fields, as is done in certain types of tomography, it is necessary to replace resistivity with a complex quantity called impeditivity (in analogy to electrical impedance). Impeditivity is the sum of a real component, the resistivity, and an imaginary component, the reactivity (in analogy to reactance) [] .

Resistivity density products

In some applications where the weight of an item is very important resistivity density products are more important than absolute low resistance- it is often possible to make the conductor thicker to make up for a higher resistivity; and then a low resistivity density product material (or equivalently a high conductance to density ratio) is desirable.

This fact is used for long distance overhead powerline transmission- aluminium is used rather than copper because it is lighter for the same conductance. Calcium, with a resistivity density product lower than aluminium, is rarely if ever used due to its highly reactive nature.


*cite book | author= Paul Tipler| title=Physics for Scientists and Engineers: Electricity, Magnetism, Light, and Elementary Modern Physics (5th ed.) | publisher=W. H. Freeman | year=2004 | id=ISBN 0-7167-0810-8

ee also

* Electrical conductivity
* Electrical resistance
* Electrical resistivity imaging
* SI electromagnetism units
* Sheet resistance
* Electrical resistivities of the elements (data page)

External links

* [ New nanomaterial better efficient conductor]
* [ Resistivity & Mobility Calculator/Graph from BYU cleanroom]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • resistivity — [rē΄zis tiv′ə tē, ri zis΄tiv′ə tē] n. 1. property of, capacity for, or tendency toward resistance 2. Elec. resistance per unit of area or volume, measured in ohms per meter: the reciprocal of conductivity …   English World dictionary

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  • resistivity — savitoji elektrinė varža statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Dydis, skaitine verte lygus varžai kubo pavidalo laidininko, kurio briaunos ilgis 1 m. atitikmenys: angl. resistivity; specific electrical resistance rus. удельное электрическое… …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

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  • resistivity — noun (plural ties) Date: 1885 1. the longitudinal electrical resistance of a uniform rod of unit length and unit cross sectional area ; the reciprocal of conductivity 2. capacity for resisting ; resistance …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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  • resistivity — A measure of a material s resistance to the passage of electrical current; the reciprocal of conductivity. [L. re sito, to withstand] * * * re·sis·tiv·i·ty ri .zis tiv ət ē, .rē n, pl ties the longitudinal electrical resistance of a uniform rod… …   Medical dictionary

  • resistivity — re·sis·tiv·i·ty || ‚rɪːzɪ stɪvÉ™tɪ n. ability to resist; resistance, quality of a conductor which resists an electrical current (Electricity) …   English contemporary dictionary

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