Using a microscale conductivity meter, students can test the electrical conductivity of different solids and solutions in this practical
In this experiment, students can use a series of different materials, and a microscale conductivity meter, to see which material is best at allowing an electrical current to pass through. A group of materials has been suggested, but virtually any can be tested in this straightforward practical.
This practical should take 15 minutes.
- Clear plastic sheet (eg OHP sheet)
- Conductivity meter
- Copper(II) sulfate solution
- Sodium chloride solution
- Tap water
- Deionised water
- Sugar solution
- Copper foil
- Aluminium foil
- Iron nail
- Pencil lead
Health, safety and technical notes
- Read our standard health and safety guidance
- Students must wear suitable eye protection (Splash resistant goggles to BS EN166 3).
- Copper(II) sulfate solution, CuSO4 (aq) causes eye damage (above 0.12 mol dm—1), is harmful if swallowed and HAZARDOUS to the aquatic environment (see CLEAPSS Hazcard HC027c).
- Cover the worksheet with a clear plastic sheet.
- Add three drops of each of the solutions to the circles indicated on the student sheet provided in the downloads section.
- Place a small amount of each of the solids in the circle indicated on the student sheet provided in the downloads section.
- Test for conductivity by carefully placing just the tip of the electrodes in each of the substances in turn.
- Make a table of your results.
- Give explanations for your results, trying to link the conductivity of a substance with its structure.
Metals and solutions/liquids that contain ions should cause the light emitting diode (LED) to shine.
This experiment provides a quick and simple method for testing conductivity. The LED will light for any substance – whether liquid or solid – that conducts.
Using a microscale conductivity meter - teacher notesPDF, Size 0.14 mb
Using a microscale conductivity meter - teacher notesWord, Size 51.04 kb
Using a microscale conductivity meter - student sheetExperiment | PDF, Size 0.16 mb
Using a microscale conductivity meter - student sheetWord, Size 97.56 kb
S. W. Breuer, Microscale practical organic chemistry. Lancaster: Lancaster University, 1991.
This resource is part of our Microscale chemistry collection, which brings together smaller-scale experiments to engage your students and explore key chemical ideas. The resources originally appeared in the book Microscale chemistry: experiments in miniature, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1998.
© Royal Society of Chemistry
Health and safety checked, 2018
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