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Monday, February 9, 2015

How fast do electrons travel when moving as an electrical current through copper wire?

The actual velocity of electrons through a conductor is measured as an average speed called drift velocity. This is because individual electrons do not traverse straight line paths in conductors, instead they move in a random zig-zag motion, changing directions as they collide with atoms in the conductor. Thus, the actual speed of the electrons through the conductor is very small in the direction of current.

For example, the drift speed through a copper wire of cross-sectional area 3.00 x 10-6 m2, with a current of 10 A will be approximately 2.5 x 10-4 m/s or about a quarter of a milimeter per second.