Conductors and Semiconductors

23 Feb, 2012 530 Physics

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the physics of electrical conduction. Although electricity has been known for several hundred years, it was only in the early twentieth century that physicists first satisfactorily explained the phenomenon. Electric current is the passage of charged particles through a medium - but a material will only conduct electricity if its atomic structure enables it to do so. In investigating electrical conduction scientists discovered two new classes of material. Semiconductors, first exploited commercially in the 1950s, have given us the transistor, the solar cell and the silicon chip, and have revolutionised telecommunications. And superconductors, remarkable materials first observed in 1911, are used in medical imaging and at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

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  • Frank Close 15 episodes
    Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford
  • Jenny Nelson No other episodes
    Professor of Physics at Imperial College London
  • Lesley Cohen No other episodes
    Professor of Solid State Physics at Imperial College London

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Until the end of the 19th century, the phenomenon of electricity was very poorly understood.