resistance, property of an electric conductor by which it opposes a flow of electricity and dissipates electrical energy away from the circuit, usually as heat. Optimum resistance is provided by a conductor that is long, small in cross section, and of a material that conducts poorly. Resistance is basically the same for alternating and direct current circuits (see impedance). However, an alternating current of high frequency tends to travel near the surface of a conductor. Since such a current uses less of the available cross section of the conductor than a direct current, it meets with more resistance than a direct current. In circuit analysis an ideal resistor, i.e., a circuit component whose only property is resistance, is called a resistance. The phenomenon of resistance arises from the interactions of electrons with ions in the conductor. The unit of resistance is the ohm. See superconductivity; Ohm's law; conduction.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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