A close analogy exists between the flow of energy by heat because of a temperature difference (see Section 20.7) and the flow of electric charge because of a potential difference. The energy dQ and the electric charge dq can both be transported by free electrons in the conducting material. Consequently, a good electrical conductor is usually a good thermal conductor as well. Consider a thin conducting slab of thickness dx, area A, and electrical conductivity ?, with a potential difference dV between opposite faces. Show that the current I = dq/dt is given by the equation on the left below:
In the analogous thermal conduction equation on the right, the rate of energy flow dQ/dt (in SI units of joules per second) is due to a temperature gradient dT/dx, in a material of thermal conductivity k. State analogous rules relating the direction of the electric current to the change in potential, and relating the direction of energy flow to the change in temperature.
This question was answered on: Jul 11, 2017
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