Difference Between Conductor and Insulator

Main Difference

The main difference between the conductor and insulator is that the conductor conducts heat and electricity very well, whereas the insulator does not conduct heat and electricity.

Conductor vs. Insulator

The conductor is considered as good at conducting electricity and heat, whereas insulator is considered as poor conductor of heat and electricity. The conductor who is best at conducting heat and electricity has more free carriers present in them, like electrons, while insulator which is best at not conducting electricity do no contains many free carriers of electrons because electrons are tightly bound within atoms. The conductor is usually the materials that permit easy flow of electrons from one atom to another atom; on the other hand, the insulator is the material that wouldn’t allow the easy flow of electrons from one atom to another atom.

The atoms which are present in a conductor are not able to grip onto their electrons strongly; on the contrary, the atoms which are present in the insulator are strongly gripped with each other and unable to transfer electric energy well. Materials that are considered as good conductors of electricity commonly consisted of high conductivity; on the flip side, good insulating materials normally consist of low conductivity. The electric field is present on the surface of the conductor but remains zero inside the conductor; on the other hand, the electric field does not present on the insulator. In the conductor, the magnetic field usually stores energy; on the contrary, the magnetic field in insulator does not store energy.

The potential of conductor at all points remain the same; on the flip side, the potential of the insulator at all points remain zero. The covalent bond present between the atoms of the conductor is weak; on the other hand, the covalent bond is strong between atoms of the insulator. The conductivity of the conductor is very high; conversely, the insulator has very low conductivity.

Conductor contains very low resistance; on the flip side, the resistance of insulator is high; that’s why it doesn’t allow the movement of electric charges. The positive temperature of the coefficient of resistance is present in the conductor; on the contrary, the negative temperature coefficient of resistance is present in the insulator. The resistivity of the conductor varies from high to low according to the presence of electricity, while the resistivity of the insulator is always high.

The conduction band of the conductor is full of electrons; on the other hand, the conduction band of the insulator remains empty. The valence-bond of the conductor remains empty, while the valence bond of the insulator is full of electrons. There is presently no forbidden gap in conductors; on the flip side, there is present a largely forbidden gap in an insulator.

Various examples of the conductor are aluminum, irons, silver, copper, etc., while some examples of the insulator are paper, rubber, wood, etc. The conductor is widely used for making electrical wires and conductors; on the flip side, the insulator is used in electrical cables as insulation, for supporting electrical equipment, etc.

Comparison Chart

ConductorInsulator
The substantial which permits the electric current or heat to pass from it is known as a conductor.The substance which does not permit the electric current or heat to pass from it is known as an insulator.
Considered As
Good at conducting electricity and heatPoor conductor of heat and electricity
Free Carriers of Electrons
More free carriers present in them, like electronsDoes not contain many free carriers of electrons
Flow of Electrons
Permit easy flow of electrons from one atom to another atomWouldn’t allow the easy flow of electrons from one atom to another atom
Grip on Electrons
The atoms do not have a strong grip onto their electronsThe atoms have strongly bonded with each other and unable to transfer electric energy well
Conductivity
Consisted of high conductivityConsisted of low conductivity
Electric Field
Present on the surface of the conductor but remain zero inside the conductorDoes not present on insulator
Potential
The potential at all points remain the sameThe potential at all points remain zero
Magnetic Field
The magnetic field usually store energyThe magnetic field does not store energy
Covalent Bond
The covalent bond present between the atoms is weakThe covalent bond present between the atoms is strong
Conductivity
Conductivity is very highConductivity is low
Resistance
Contains very low resistanceContains high resistance
Temperature Coefficient
The positive temperature of the coefficient of resistance is presentThe negative temperature of the coefficient of resistance is present
Resistivity
The resistivity varies from high to lowThe resistivity is high
Conduction Band
The conduction band is full of electronsThe conduction band remains empty
Valence Band
The valence bond remains emptyThe valence bond is full of electrons
Forbidden Gap
There is presently no forbidden gapThere is a present a big forbidden gap
Examples
Aluminum, irons, silver, copper, etcPaper, rubber, wood, etc
Applications
Widely used for making electrical wires and conductorUsed in electrical cables as insulation, for supporting electrical equipment’s, etc

What is a Conductor?

The term conductor is defined as the material that consists of many free electrons and allows the conduction of heat and electricity. In other words, the conductor is the substance that allows the electrons to move freely from one atom to another atom in one or more directions. If we send an electron into a conductor that is electrically charged, the electron will hit a free electron that already present in the conductor, and then eventually trigger it until that electron hits other free electrons in the conductor.

After that, a chain of reaction starts creating an electrical charge in the material. The conductors can easily allow passing electricity through them because their atomic structure permits the free electrons to roam freely in the conductor. Various examples of the conductor are aluminum, irons, silver, copper, etc.

What is Insulator?

The insulator is a material that does not have free electrons and does not conduct electricity through them. In other words, the insulator is a substance that holds electrons tightly that restrict the movement of electrons from one atom to another atom and consequently do not allow the electric charges to pass from them. The insulator consists of low conductivity, and the flow of current is almost negligible. So, insulators are mainly used to protect us from shocks of electricity.

The electric wires are coated with insulators because sometimes the voltage is quite high enough in wires to cause the flow of electric charges through the materials which are not even considered as good conductors of electricity. The coating of the insulator is done with rubber to save the body from electric shocks because the human body is also considered as good conductors of electricity. Some examples of the insulator are paper, rubber, wood, etc.

Key Differences

  1. The material that allows smooth flow of electrons jumping from one atom to another atom is commonly known as the conductor; on the other hand, the material that wouldn’t permit the smooth flow of electrons jumping from one atom to another atom is known as an insulator.
  2. The best conductor is good at conducting electricity and heat, whereas insulator is considered as poor conductor of heat and electricity.
  3. The conductor consists of free electrons, while the insulator does not consist of free electrons.
  4. In a conductor, the atoms do not have a strong grip on their electrons; on the contrary, in an insulator, the atoms consist of a strong grip on their electrons.
  5. On the surface of the conductor, the electric field exists but remains zero inside the conductor; on the other hand, the electric field does not exist on the insulator.
  6. In a conductor, the magnetic field is used to store the energy; on the contrary, the magnetic field is not present in the insulator and does not store the energy.
  7. In a conductor, the potential remains the same at all points; on the flip side, in an insulator, the potential remains zero at all points.
  8. The thermal conductivity of the conductor is high; on the other hand, the thermal conductivity of the insulator is low.
  9. The covalent bond of the conductor is weak, which present between the atoms; on the other hand, between the atoms of the insulator, the covalent bond is always strong.
  10. The conductor consists of a very minimum amount of resistance; on the flip side, the resistance of the insulator is high.
  11. In the conductor, the positive temperature of the coefficient of resistance is present; on the contrary, in the insulator, the negative temperature coefficient of resistance is present.
  12. The resistivity present in the conductor varies from high to low, while the resistivity of the insulator is constantly high.
  13. The conductor’s conduction band is usually full of electrons; on the other hand, the insulator’s conduction band remains empty.
  14. In the conductor, the valence-bond remains empty, while in the insulator, the valence bond is generally full of electrons.

Conclusion

above discussion concludes that the conductor is good at conducting electricity and heat, whereas insulator is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss

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