What Is an Electron Flow?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2019
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An electron flow is an electric current, the same thing that powers devices such as mobile phones, lights, and computers. Electrons are the negatively charged particles that exist within atoms. Electromagnetic force is responsible for electron flow, and it is one of the four fundamental forces identified by physicists. Alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) are the two main types of electron flow that exist and power electronic devices. The current of an electrical circuit is measured in amperes, which is often shortened to amps, and can be divided into milliamps.

Most people in the modern world make use of electron flow every day. Any electrical current, which is used to power a multitude of devices that people rely on, is the result of electrons moving from one place to another. Electrons orbit the nucleus of each atom like planets around a star, and have a negative charge. Electric currents send electrons from a negative source around a circuit to reach a positive terminal. Metals are particularly good at conducting electric current because their firm structure allows for a free flow of electrons across them.


Electromagnetism is the force which causes electron flow to occur, and it is the marriage of electricity and magnetism. This is because they are really the exact same force, which causes particles of opposing charges to be attracted to each other and those with matching charges to be repelled from one another. The same force which causes the north end of a magnet to be attracted to the south end of another magnet causes electricity. The two poles have opposing electromagnetic charges, which are grouped electrons and protons. The force that pulls the two opposing ends together is the electromagnetic force.

Two main types of electron flow are used to power most electric devices. The first type is DC, which is a basic line of electrons in which the charge moves in one direction. Batteries provide this type of current, in which the electrons move from the positive to the negative poles. The opposite, AC, is when the electrons flow from the negative to the positive and from positive to negative. Power outlets in most homes use alternating current.

Amperes (or amps) are the standard unit of measurement for electron flow. A single amp is the equivalent to one coulomb per second, with a coulomb being a measurement of the flow of electric charge. Most devices use amps to indicate how much electricity is required for them to work, but others need smaller forms of measurement. A milliamp is a smaller unit of measurement that can be used on low-current devices, equivalent to a thousandth of an amp.


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