Insulators are considered to be those materials that offer resistance to the conduction of energy (thermal or electrical), unlike conductive materials, which are those that conduct energy easily.
Types of insulators
- Electrical insulators: are those materials that have a very low capacity to conduct electrical energy, because they generate a potential barrier that makes it difficult for free electrons to conduct electrical currents. Electrical insulators are widely used when you want to avoid discharges in an electrical system when you want to prevent people who use electrical devices from coming into contact with the current and to avoid short circuits.
- Thermal insulators are those materials that, subjected to a heat source, offer significant resistance before an increase in their temperature occurs. This does not mean that thermal insulators do not conduct heat energy since all substances conduct heat at least in small proportions, but that they do so to a small enough extent to make them useful if you want to isolate a certain energy source. caloric. Thermal insulators are widely used in the metallurgical industry, in the aeronautical industry, in the energy industry, and in construction.
What are some examples of insulators?
Examples of thermal insulation
- Expanded cork
- Expanded polystyrene
- Glass foam
- Glass wool
- Wood chips
- Wood fiber
- Mineral wool or rock wool
- Phenolic resin foam
- Expanded Perlite Plates
- Elastomeric foam
- Extruded polystyrene
- Polyethylene honeycomb film
- Polyurethane foam
- Cellulosic foam
- Wood wool slabs
- Cereal pellets
- Polyethylene foam
What does it do to an insulating or conductive material?
The high or low conductivity of a material is determined by how tightly the electrons (which are subatomic particles with a negative electric charge) are attached to the molecular structure, which leads to the fact that in conductive materials the electrons require low amounts of energy to mobilize through the material, whereas in insulators these amounts of energy must be much greater.
- Insulating materials: There are certain materials that are generally good insulators, such as glass and plastic, while others are only under certain specific conditions of temperature, pressure, or under a certain state of aggregation (such as water, air or quartz).
- Semiconductor materials: There are even certain materials that have the property of being good insulators when they are in the pure crystalline state, as well as good conductors when the atoms of the crystal combine with other materials, which is why they are called semiconductors (such as silicon and germanium).
- Superconducting materials: Superconductors are those materials that when cooled no longer exert resistance to the transmission of electrical current, which implies that they have the ability to acquire electrical current even without resistance.
- Differences Between Conductors and Insulators
- What is Conduction, Convection and Radiation?