zero. By an extension of this notion we can call the quantity dρ/ρdt the temperature coefficient corresponding to any temperature t at which the resistivity is ρ. In all cases the relation between the resistivity of a substance and the temperature is best set out in the form of a curve called a temperature-resistance curve. If a series of such curves are drawn for various pure metals, temperature being taken as abscissa and resistance as ordinate, and if the temperature range extends from the absolute zero of temperature upwards, then it is found that these temperature-resistance lines are curved lines having their convexity either upwards or downwards. In other words, the second differential coefficient of resistance with respect to temperature is either a positive or negative quantity. An extensive series of observations concerning the form of the resistivity curves for various pure metals over a range of temperature extending from −200° C. to +200° C. was carried out in 1892 and 1893 by Fleming and Dewar (Phil. Mag. Oct. 1892 and Sept. 1893). The resistance observations were taken with resistance coils constructed with wires of various metals obtained in a state of great chemical purity. The lengths and mean diameters of the wires were carefully measured, and their resistance was then taken at certain known temperatures obtained by immersing the coils in boiling aniline, boiling water, melting ice, melting carbonic acid in ether, and boiling liquid oxygen, the temperatures thus given being +184°.5 C., +100° C., 0° C., −78°.2 C. and −182°.5 C. The resistivities of the various metals were then calculated and set out in terms of the temperature. From these data a chart was prepared showing the temperature-resistance curves of these metals throughout a range of 400 degrees. The exact form of these curves through the region of temperature lying between −200° C. and −273° C. is not yet known. As shown on the chart, the curves evidently do not converge to precisely the same point. It is, however, much less probable that the resistance of any metal should vanish at a temperature above the absolute zero than at the absolute zero itself, and the precise path of these curves at their lower ends cannot be delineated until means are found for fixing independently the temperature of some regions in which the resistance of metallic wires can be measured. Sir J. Dewar subsequently showed that for certain pure metals it is clear that the resistance would not vanish at the absolute zero but would be reduced to a finite but small value (see “Electric Resistance Thermometry at the Temperature of Boiling Hydrogen,” Proc. Roy. Soc. 1904, 73, p. 244).
The resistivity curves of the magnetic metals are also remarkable for the change of curvature they exhibit at the magnetic critical temperature. Thus J. Hopkinson and D. K. Morris (Phil. Mag. September 1897, p. 213) observed the remarkable alteration that takes place in the iron resistance temperature curve in the neighbourhood of 780° C. At that temperature the direction of the curvature of the curve changes so that it becomes convex upwards instead of convex downwards, and in addition the value of the temperature coefficient undergoes a great reduction. The mean temperature coefficient of iron in the neighbourhood of 0° C. is 0.0057; at 765° C. it rises to a maximum value 0.0204; but at 1000° C. it falls again to a lower value, 0.00244. A similar rise to a maximum value and subsequent fall are also noted in the case of the specific heat of iron. The changes in the curvature of the resistivity curves are undoubtedly connected with the molecular changes that occur in the magnetic metals at their critical temperatures.
A fact of considerable interest in connexion with resistivity is the influence exerted by a strong magnetic field in the case of some metals, notably bismuth. It was discovered by A. Righi and confirmed by S. A. Leduc (Journ. de Phys. 1886, 5, p. 116, and 1887, 6, p. 189) that if a pure bismuth wire is placed in a magnetic field transversely to the direction of the magnetic field, its resistance is considerably increased. This increase is greatly affected by the temperature of the metal (Dewar and Fleming, Proc. Roy. Soc. 1897, 60, p. 427). The temperature coefficient of pure copper is an important constant, and its value as determined by Messrs Clark, Forde and Taylor in terms of Fahrenheit temperature is
Time Effects.—In the case of dielectric conductors, commonly called insulators, such as indiarubber, guttapercha, glass and mica, the electric resistivity is not only a function of the temperature but also of the time during which the electromotive force employed to measure it is imposed. Thus if an indiarubber-covered cable is immersed in water and the resistance of the dielectric between the copper conductor and the water measured by ascertaining the current which can be caused to flow through it by an electromotive force, this current is found to vary very rapidly with the time during which the electromotive force is applied. Apart from the small initial effect due to the electrostatic capacity of the cable, the application of an electromotive force to the dielectric produces a current through it which rapidly falls in value, as if the electric resistance of the dielectric were increasing. The current, however, does not fall continuously but tends to a limiting value, and it appears that if the electromotive force is kept applied to the cable for a prolonged time, a small and nearly constant current will ultimately be found flowing through it. It is customary in electro-technical work to consider the resistivity of the dielectric as the value it has after the electromotive force has been applied for one minute, the standard temperature being 75° F. This, however, is a purely conventional proceeding, and the number so obtained does not necessarily represent the true or ohmic resistance of the dielectric. If the electromotive force is increased, in the case of a large number of ordinary dielectrics the apparent resistance at the end of one minute’s electrification decreases as the electromotive force increases.
Practical Standards.—The practical measurement of resistivity involves many processes and instruments (see Wheatstone’s Bridge and Ohmmeter). Broadly speaking, the processes are divided into Comparison Methods and Absolute Methods. In the former a comparison is effected between the resistance of a material in a known form and some standard resistance. In the Absolute Methods the resistivity is determined without reference to any other substance, but with reference only to the fundamental standards of length, mass and time. Immense labour has been expended in investigations concerned with the production of a standard of resistance and its evaluation in absolute measure. In some cases the absolute standard is constructed by filling a carefully-calibrated tube of glass with mercury, in order to realize in a material form the official definition of the ohm; in this manner most of the principal national physical laboratories have been provided with standard mercury ohms. (For a full description of the standard mercury ohm of the Berlin Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt, see the Electrician, xxxvii. 569.) For practical purposes it is more convenient to employ a standard of resistance made of wire.
Opinion is not yet perfectly settled on the question whether a wire made of any alloy can be considered to be a perfectly unalterable standard of resistance, but experience has shown that a platinum silver alloy (66% silver, 33% platinum), and also the alloy called manganin, seem to possess the qualities of permanence essential for a wire-resistance standard. A comparison made in 1892 and 1894 of all the manganin wire copies of the ohm made at the Reichsanstalt in Berlin, showed that these standards had remained constant for two years to within one or two parts in 100,000. It appears, however, that in order that manganin may remain constant in resistivity when used in the manufacture of a resistance coil, it is necessary that the alloy should be aged by heating it to a temperature of 140° C. for ten hours; and to prevent subsequent changes in resistivity, solders containing zinc must be avoided, and a silver solder containing 75% of silver employed in soldering the manganin wire to its connexions.
The authorities of the Berlin Reichsanstalt have devoted considerable attention to the question of the best form for a wire standard of electric resistance. In that now adopted the resistance wire is carefully insulated and wound on a brass cylinder, being doubled on itself to annul inductance as much as possible. In the coil two wires are wound on in parallel, one being much finer than the other, and the final adjustment of the coil to an exact value is made by shortening the finer of the two. A standard of resistance for use in a laboratory now generally consists of a wire of manganin or platinum-silver carefully insulated and enclosed in a brass case. Thick copper rods are connected to the terminals of the wire in the interior of the case, and brought to the outside, being carefully insulated at the same time from one another and from the case. The coil so constructed can be placed under water or paraffin oil, the temperature of which can be exactly observed during the process of taking a resistance measurement. Equalization of the temperature of the surrounding medium is effected by the employment of a stirrer, worked by hand or by a small electric motor. The construction of a standard of electrical resistance consisting of mercury in a glass tube is an operation requiring considerable precautions, and only to be undertaken by those experienced in the matter. Opinions are divided on the question whether greater permanence in resistance can be secured by mercury-in-glass standards of resistance or by wire standards, but the latter are at least more portable and less fragile.