Hole Flow in Copper?

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 16, 2012
Basic Electronics Part 1 - YouTube (1:28:08)
Lesson 1 - Voltage, Current, Resistance (Engineering Circuit Analysis) - YouTube - (13:15)

Both of these video describe "hole flow" in copper, and this has started driving me crazy. There isn't hole flow in copper, as far as I understand. My understanding is that holes appear in crystallin structures that have been doped to have an absence of an electron.

I was asked to teach a class once describing "hole flow" in copper. I refused. I called it "Conventional current flow" rather than "hole flow"

Am I wrong? If not, why the hell would one teach "hole flow"?

Thread Starter


Joined Sep 16, 2012
Note that my questions were not meant to be rhetorical.

Am I mistaken? Do holes flow in copper? Am I wrong?


Joined Aug 21, 2008
Think about it a moment: If an electron leaves and atom, what would you call the vacancy created when that electron left its (former) host atom?


Joined Mar 31, 2012
Any description of how electric current flows, when presented at the level of a Circuits I course, is going to involve a lot of simplifications and abstractions. Talking about electrons moving in the material under the influence of an electric field seems nice and simple and complete, but the actual mechanics of what is happening are far more complex. In that vein, it is not unreasonable to use other models to describe things, realizing that they, too, are simplified abstractions. Talking about electron holes flowing in a conductor is perfectly reasonable, it's just that it doesn't really bring anything more to the table and is harder for most people to conceptualize than talking about electrons flowing and leaving it at that. It's when you start talking about how things work in something like a semiconductor that the simpler abstractions are no longer adequate to explain the important things that are observed and we have to use models that are closer to reality and distinguish the movement of electrons from the movement of electron holes because the effects are, indeed, dependent on which it is.

EDIT: Fix typo.
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