# I'm confused about ohms law

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#### suhasm

##### New Member
After seeing contradictory posts on many forums , and getting differing opinions from my teachers , i'm completely lost with the ohms law....

I have a number of questions. Can someone please answer them for me?

1) Do semiconductors obey Ohms law? and why do they obey/not obey?
if they obey , then why is the drop across a ideal diode constant even when the current in it changes?

2) I heard someone say in another thread "semiconductors obey ohms law , but semiconductor junctions dont". why is it so?

3) A thread in another forum said that liquids dont obey ohms law as ions are the current carriers... true or false?

4) Is ohm's law a special case of V=IR or is V=IR a special case of ohms law?

5) Is Ohms law a law at all?

6) Is there any theory in physics which explains why ohms law works the way it does?

#### Nigel Goodwin

##### Super Moderator
Ohms law works in all cases, you need to know two of the variables and can work out the third.

Your problem is that you're trying to apply it where you don't know two of the variables, or they don't have a fixed value - you can't apply 'R' to a semi-conductor.

#### suhasm

##### New Member
@ nigel
Your problem is that you're trying to apply it where you don't know two of the variables, or they don't have a fixed value - you can't apply 'R' to a semi-conductor.
What do you mean "do not have a fixed value"?

Do you mean to say that the resistance of a diode automatically adjusts itself so that the drop across it is always 0.7V?

#### solis365

##### New Member
i guess your questions about semiconductors are more a matter of semantics. it is too general to say "semiconductors obey ohms law" although it is technically true.

all materials have an associated conductivity or resistivity. a chunk of silicon has some resistivity, and if you hook up some leads to just a plain block of silicon, it will have an associated resistance and will obey ohms law. however, semiconductor-based DEVICES may not obey this law in the context of some circuit. i think this was what was meant by "semiconductor junctions do not." due to advantageous properties of semiconductors when they are doped we can create nonlinear devices which do not obey ohms law on the macro scale.

i am not sure about fluids, i have never encountered that question. there are some non-ohmic materials that do not behave that way.

however i do believe ohms law can be derived from physical laws but it is a fairly advanced derivation, not taught in intro college classes...

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#### Nigel Goodwin

##### Super Moderator
@ nigel

What do you mean "do not have a fixed value"?
Exactly what it says, it's not fixed - you can't say a semiconductor is x ohms, resistance doesn't apply.

Do you mean to say that the resistance of a diode automatically adjusts itself so that the drop across it is always 0.7V?
As far as ohms law is concerned it does, but it doesn't really have 'resistance' so you're mising one of the three variables for ohms law.

#### MikeMl

##### Well-Known Member

Ohm observed that in a "pure" resistor, current through the resistor is proportional to the voltage across the resistor. This is only true for what we call "resistors".

Ohms law does not apply for two-terminal circuits which are "non-linear", like semiconductor devices, thermistors, etc. They have their own "laws" which describe the relationship between current and voltage.

#### Willbe

##### New Member
1)
if they obey , then why is the drop across a ideal diode constant even when the current in it changes?

The R changes. You need to look at the V-I curve.

2) I heard someone say in another thread "semiconductors obey ohms law , but semiconductor junctions dont". why is it so?

I think they both do.

3) A thread in another forum said that liquids dont obey ohms law as ions are the current carriers... true or false?

Solids and liquids have a bulk resistivity, so they obey Ohm's law.

4) Is ohm's law a special case of V=IR or is V=IR a special case of ohms law?

??

5) Is Ohms law a law at all?

Well, it's falsifiable
Falsifiability - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

6) Is there any theory in physics which explains why ohms law works the way it does?
I 'spose.
µΩΔΘΣΦ

#### ericgibbs

##### Well-Known Member
hi,
The formula V=I *R is not Ohms Law.

Ohms Law states that the current flowing thru a conductor is directly proportional to the applied voltage
and inversely proportion to the resistance of the conductor.

So 'technically' if you apply a voltage to a semiconductor a current will flow which is inversely proportional to its resistance.

Its important to note that the 'resistance' is only being measured at a finite point along the resistance 'curve/plot' of the semiconductor.

Dont confuse a semi-conductor material with the action of a 'transistor or diode' which is combination of two dissimilar semiconductor materials.

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#### crutschow

##### Well-Known Member
Ohms law simply quantifies the observed relationship between resistance, voltage, and current. If the resistance varies with operating point, then you can still say that the component obeys ohms law for the resistance at a particular operating point.

For example, a thermistor's resistance varies with temperature. But for a given temperature ohms law can be used to calculate the current through the thermistor for the resistance at that temperature.

And using ohms law you can calculate the equivalent resistance for a semiconductor junction at a particular current. But if the current changes, the calculated resistance will change, since the junction has a nonlinear relation between current and equivalent resistance.

#### suhasm

##### New Member
We can determine the resistance of a diode at some point in its operating point. However , that still doesnt mean that R*I = 0.7V Why dont semiconductor junctions obey ohms law?
Or do semiconductor junctions obey ohms law at a microscopic scale?

#### suhasm

##### New Member
@willbe
2) I heard someone say in another thread "semiconductors obey ohms law , but semiconductor junctions dont". why is it so?

I think they both do.
'

If semiconductor junctions obey ohms law , then shouldnt the drop across a diode be proportional to the current flowing through it?

##### Banned
No.
I will crush this thread before it blossoms in the the behemoth abomination that was the basic transistor thread a few days ago!

ALL MATERIALS obey ohms law.
Semi conductors HOWEVER can change their EFFECTIVE resistance values when an electric field is present near the PN junction. So technically yes, they obey ohms law. They however are ACTIVE devices so the voltage/current traveling through them changes the static EM field that exists and hence the devices conductivity making them non-linear.

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#### suhasm

##### New Member

I think that was the answer i was looking for..
Can someone please explain that in a little bit more simple manner?
What do you exactly mean by effective resistance?

#### dknguyen

##### Well-Known Member
"Effective" in english means that you can treat something as something else, even though they are actually two different things.

"Effective" in effective resistance just means that it is not actually a resistor, and does not behave like a resistor, but under a set of very specific conditions (temperature, voltage, current, frequency etc) you can model the component as a resistor.

In the formula V=I*R you are assuming R is a constant value no matter what the temperature, voltages, or currents are in the component. THis is true for a resistor, but not for a semiconductor, capacitor, or an inductor). THe effective resistance of these components changes as the current in it changes, or as the voltage being applied to it's terminals changes (or both).

It's more like V=I*R(x), where R(x) is the function for the resistance and 'x' is all the variables that the effective resistance is dependent (temperture, current, voltage, frequency, etc).

THe thing to carry away from this is that R in V=IR only stays a constant value for resistors. FOr every other component R is a value that can change as the component's operating variables change. The resistance is like it's own little equation rather than just a fixed number (unless it's an ideal resistor, but even real resistors change their resistance slightly with things like temperature).

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##### Banned
I put it about as simply as you can get before you get deep into the math of semi-conductor theory (I think) Please someone help me out here if they can describe it more simply.

#### dougy83

##### Well-Known Member
In the formula V=I*R you are assuming R is a constant value no matter what the temperature, voltages, or currents are in the component. THis is true for a resistor, but not for a semiconductor, capacitor, or an inductor).
Resistors will change in value for all of the listed variables...

#### dknguyen

##### Well-Known Member
Resistors will change in value for all of the listed variables...
Ideal resistors, let's make it easy for the newcomer.

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##### Banned
It would be best to mention resistors temperature non-linearity up front, it's a very important thing to know.

#### MrAl

##### Well-Known Member
Hi there,

Strictly speaking, semiconductors (like si diodes) do NOT obey Ohm's Law. This is
because the current through the element is not proportional to the voltage across it.
It's as simple as that. The voltage across a regular diode is around 0.7 volts and
as the current varies widely the voltage across it does not change that much.
It doesnt matter how small of a range you choose (a change of 1 amp, a change
of 0.1 amp, a change of 0.000001 amp) it still does NOT obey Ohm's Law.

An element that obeys Ohm's Law follows this equation exactly:
V=I*R, or similar.

A semiconductor diode does not follow this Law, therefore it does not obey
Ohm's Law.

A semiconductor diode equation can be approximated at a given bias point by
saying that Rd=V/I at some point x when the range is relatively small, but that
is merely an approximation and NOT a law of any kind. The resistance is held
constant with the added constraint that the current does not change too much
relative to the application, and thus V=I*Rd over a small range of I.
This means we USE Ohm's Law once we know what Rd we will be working with,
but it should be noted that the diode still is not obeying Ohm's Law, we are just
pretending that it does over a short range of current change.

A pure resistance obeys Ohm's Law, in that V=I*R (or similar algebraic form).
That's about the only thing that does, because R is constant.
A silicon diode follows this or similar law:
V=0.026*ln(I/I0+1)
Note the logarithmic relationship there that is certainly not proportional to current.

At the level it sounds like you are (the OP) it would probably be better for you
to take a good look at Ohm's Law for resistors alone for now, and get into
semiconductors after you have a good feel for how resistors work in circuits.

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#### ericgibbs

##### Well-Known Member
I cannot see why, when talking about the resistance of semiconductors materials
its deemed necessary to explain in terms of semiconductor devices.

A piece of semiconductor material is passive, a semiconductor device ie a transistor/diode is formed
from the junction of two dissimilar semiconductor materials.

Conductors have a temperature/resistance coefficient and their resistance changes in a linear way with respect to temperature,
either in a negative or positive sense.
Manufactured alloys can be made that have close to zero temperature coefficients.

Manufactured compounds can be made that have a non linear resistance change with change in temperature,
again with a negative or positive sense.

Which ever type of material you choose, conductor or semi-conductor, it will obey Ohms Law at any given temperature.
The same rule applies to thermistor compounds.

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