The ampere (//, US: //; symbol: A), often shortened to amp, is the base unit of electric current in the International System of Units (SI). It is named after André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), French mathematician and physicist, considered the father of electromagnetism.
|Unit system||SI base unit|
|Unit of||Electric current|
|Named after||André-Marie Ampère|
The International System of Units defines the ampere in terms of other base units by measuring the electromagnetic force between electrical conductors carrying electric current. The earlier CGS system had two different definitions of current, one essentially the same as the SI's and the other using electric charge as the base unit, with the unit of charge defined by measuring the force between two charged metal plates. The ampere was then defined as one coulomb of charge per second. In SI, the unit of charge, the coulomb, is defined as the charge carried by one ampere during one second.
The ampere is defined by taking the fixed numerical value of the elementary charge e to be 1.602 176 634 × 10−19 when expressed in the unit C, which is equal to A⋅s, where the second is defined in terms of ∆νCs, the unperturbed ground state hyperfine transition frequency of the caesium-133 atom.
The SI unit of charge, the coulomb, "is the quantity of electricity carried in 1 second by a current of 1 ampere". Conversely, a current of one ampere is one coulomb of charge going past a given point per second:
In general, charge Q is determined by steady current I flowing for a time t as Q = I t.
Constant, instantaneous and average current are expressed in amperes (as in "the charging current is 1.2 A") and the charge accumulated (or passed through a circuit) over a period of time is expressed in coulombs (as in "the battery charge is 30000 C"). The relation of the ampere (C/s) to the coulomb is the same as that of the watt (J/s) to the joule.
The ampere is named for French physicist and mathematician André-Marie Ampère (1775–1836), who studied electromagnetism and laid the foundation of electrodynamics. In recognition of Ampère's contributions to the creation of modern electrical science, an international convention, signed at the 1881 International Exposition of Electricity, established the ampere as a standard unit of electrical measurement for electric current.
The ampere was originally defined as one tenth of the unit of electric current in the centimetre–gram–second system of units. That unit, now known as the abampere, was defined as the amount of current that generates a force of two dynes per centimetre of length between two wires one centimetre apart. The size of the unit was chosen so that the units derived from it in the MKSA system would be conveniently sized.
The "international ampere" was an early realization of the ampere, defined as the current that would deposit 0.001118 grams of silver per second from a silver nitrate solution. Later, more accurate measurements revealed that this current is 0.99985 A.
Since power is defined as the product of current and voltage, the ampere can alternatively be expressed in terms of the other units using the relationship I = P/V, and thus 1 A = 1 W/V. Current can be measured by a multimeter, a device that can measure electrical voltage, current, and resistance.
Former definition in the SI
Until 2019, the SI defined the ampere as follows:
The ampere is that constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed one metre apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2×10−7 newtons per metre of length.:113
The SI unit of charge, the coulomb, was then defined as "the quantity of electricity carried in 1 second by a current of 1 ampere".:144 Conversely, a current of one ampere is one coulomb of charge going past a given point per second:
In general, charge Q was determined by steady current I flowing for a time t as Q = It.
The standard ampere is most accurately realised using a Kibble balance, but is in practice maintained via Ohm's law from the units of electromotive force and resistance, the volt and the ohm, since the latter two can be tied to physical phenomena that are relatively easy to reproduce, the Josephson effect and the quantum Hall effect, respectively.
Techniques to establish the realisation of an ampere have a relative uncertainty of approximately a few parts in 107, and involve realisations of the watt, the ohm and the volt.
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