# A question regarding terminals of battery

Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
Hello everyone,

I have an embarrassing question. I wanted to ask that, if I just connect one end of a resistor to the positive terminal of a battery, would that terminal of battery strip off the electrons from the resistor and lose its positive charge?

I'm sure that's not what would happen, but I can't realize why because I've never understood batteries very well.

Thank you very much!

#### mrmount

Joined Dec 5, 2007
59
There will be no movement of electrons in that case. Electrons start moving only when the loop is closed.

Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
Yeah, but that's when you want a sustained current, right?
Two oppositely charged particles must attract by electrostatic force, loop or not?

#### praondevou

Joined Jul 9, 2011
2,942
Does the battery loose it's charge if you touch one of it's terminals? No, despite your skin having a electrical resistance.

Forget about attracting forces in the example you gave.

Whenever you have a voltage from a power supply, be it DC or AC, be it a battery or grid voltage or a solar cell there will only be current when you provide a path for this current to flow.

If you touch the battery terminal with a resistor and leave the other terminal disconnected there will be no current flow.

Current can flow through air if it is ionized but that is not what you asked right? #### bretm

Joined Feb 6, 2012
152
Yeah, but that's when you want a sustained current, right?
Two oppositely charged particles must attract by electrostatic force, loop or not?
Technically true but the effect would be immeasurably small. There are so many free electrons that they would only need to shift position by a fraction of an atomic diameter to restore equilibrium.

Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
@praondevou: Yeah, as I said, I'm sure that's not what happens but I don't understand why. I'm not finding it easy to just "forget" about one of the most fundamental laws of nature lol.

Thanks for your help guys! Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
Technically true but the effect would be immeasurably small. There are so many free electrons that they would only need to shift position by a fraction of an atomic diameter to restore equilibrium.

Could you kindly please explain how the equilibrium would be restored in just a little more detail? I'd really appreciate it very much!

Thank you so much for your response everyone! Please bear with my ignorance.

#### tshuck

Joined Oct 18, 2012
3,534
Current can flow through air if it is ionized but that is not what you asked right? It could also flow if you exceed the dielectric strength...but that requires a BIG battery #### crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,260

Could you kindly please explain how the equilibrium would be restored in just a little more detail? I'd really appreciate it very much!
You can look at it as a capacitor with a very small stray capacitance between the resistor and the negative battery terminal. In a capacitor, charge is moved according the equation Q = CV where Q is the charge in coulombs (1 coulomb = 6.24150965× 10$$^{18}$$ electrons), C is the capacitance and V is the voltage difference. Since the stray capacitance is very small (essential a short wire in air, likely much less than a picofarad) the amount of electrons moved is also relatively small as compared to the total number of electrons in the wire.

• Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
You can look at it as a capacitor with a very small stray capacitance between the resistor and the negative battery terminal. In a capacitor, charge is moved according the equation Q = CV where Q is the charge in coulombs (1 coulomb = 6.24150965× 10$$^{18}$$ electrons), C is the capacitance and V is the voltage difference. Since the stray capacitance is very small (essential a short wire in air, likely much less than a picofarad) the amount of electrons moved is also relatively small as compared to the total number of electrons in the wire.
Ookay, I understand that. Thank you very much! So, would the resistor find itself lacking an electron or two?

#### crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,260
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So, would the resistor find itself lacking an electron or two?
Yes. Likely more than one or two. The number of electrons can be calculated by the formula in my previous post, if you determine the value of the stray capacitance.

• Joined Oct 5, 2012
87
Yes. Likely more than one or two. The number of electrons can be calculated by the formula in my previous post, if you determine the value of the stray capacitance.
Thank you so much sir and everyone else who responded to this thread. You've been a great help! I really appreciate it! Is there any chance that I can use such a resistor to make my hair stand on end due to electrostatic forces? #### crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
25,260
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Is there any chance that I can use such a resistor to make my hair stand on end due to electrostatic forces? Only if the resistor is attached to several tens of thousands of volts. Only if the resistor is attached to several tens of thousands of volts. 