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IV Characteristics. Electricity Lesson 4. Learning Objectives. To recall the symbols for different circuit components. To investigate the characteristics of different components. Draw and explain the characteristics for a wire, a filament bulb, thermistor and diode.

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iv characteristics

IV Characteristics

Electricity Lesson 4

learning objectives
Learning Objectives

To recall the symbols for different circuit components.

To investigate the characteristics of different components.

Draw and explain the characteristics for a wire, a filament bulb, thermistor and diode.

Explain how and why resistance depends on temperature for metals and semiconductors.

circuit symbols
Circuit Symbols?
  • Variable Resistor
  • Thermistor
  • Light Dependent Resistor
  • Heater
  • Electric Motor




Indicator or Light Source


Light Emitting Diode



An ammeter measures the current through part of the circuit. It is always connected in series.


A voltmeter measures the potential difference between two points. It is always connected in parallel.


A cell provides voltage to a circuit. This pushes the charge around the circuit.


The symbol for an indicator or any light source is the same (not including a light emitting diode).


A diode only allows current to flow in one direction. (In the way the triangle points) The diode has a very high resistance in the reverse direction. (For LED add the two little arrows)


A resistor impedes the flow of charge around a circuit. As it does so, it heats up.

variable resistor
Variable Resistor

A resistor that's value can easily be changed.


The resistance of a thermistor decreases as the temperature increases.

light dependent resistor
Light Dependent Resistor

An LDR is a light dependent resistor. Its resistance decreases as the amount of light falling on it increases.

wire ohmic conductor
Wire (Ohmic Conductor)

For a resistor, the current-voltage graph is a straight line through the origin.

The current through a resistor is directly proportional to the potential difference (voltage) across the resistor.

ohmic conductor
Ohmic Conductor

Note that for an Ohmic conductor the gradient of the line an I-V graph is equal to 1/R.

But this is for an Ohmic conductor only.

This is because R for a metallic conductor is constant under constant physical conditions.

It does not apply for the filament bulb.

filament bulb1
Filament Bulb

For a filament lamp, as the voltage increases, so does the current.

But the increased current raises the temperature of the filament bulb which also increases the resistance.

This is why the curve bends toward the end as it

is increasingly difficult for more current to flow.


At constant T, it gives a straight line.

The higher T is, the greater the gradient of the line as the resistance falls with increasing T.

diode notes
Diode Notes

The diode only allows current to flow in one direction (forward direction).

The diode has a high resistance in the opposite direction (reverse direction).

Needs a certain pd to conduct (typically about 0.6 V for silicon diode.)


Why does the resistance of metals increase with temperature?

Positive temperature coefficient.

Thermistor  Temperature sensors

Negative temperature coefficient.

% change of resistance.

Why?  number of charge carriers.