The direction of the current: If two charged bodies are connected by a metallic wire, electrons start flowing from the body having more electrons (negatively charged body), to the body with less electrons (positively charged body). The flow of electrons constitutes an electric current. Thus we can say that current flows due to the motion of charges. The rate of flow of charge gives the magnitude of the current.
This is fine.
But what is the direction of the current? Sometimes students get a bit confused when they come across words like electronic flow, the direction of conventional current or the conventional direction of current flow, etc.. Here we will briefly discuss all these.
Define Negatively Charged conductor
A conductor having an excess of electrons (number of electrons > number of protons) is said to be at a negative or lower potential. This conductor is called as Negatively Charged conductor.
Define Positively Charged conductor
Similarly, a conductor having a deficit of electrons (number of electrons < number of protons) is said to be at a positive or higher potential. This kind of conductor is also called a Positively Charged conductor.
What is Electronic Flow and what is the Direction of Electronic Flow?
Now let’s say, a negatively charged conductor (with excess electrons and at a lower potential) is connected to a positively charged conductor (with deficit electrons and at a higher potential). Now the electrons will start flowing from the negatively charged conductor to the positively charged conductor.
In other words, electrons will flow from the lower potential to the higher potential. This is the direction of electronic flow.
conventional current | conventional direction of electric current | direction of conventional current
But what is the conventional direction of electric current (in other words, what is the direction of conventional current flow)?
We know that when an object is released from a height it falls from higher gravitational potential energy to lower gravitational potential energy if freefall is allowed.
Similarly, water flows from a higher level to a lower level.
Heat flows from a body of higher temperature to a body of lower temperature.
So we have a habit of seeing a flow from a higher level to a lower level of some quantity. Honoring this convention, the flow of electric current is conventionally taken as “from higher potential to lower potential”.
It means the conventional flow of electric current is directionally opposite to the flow of electrons or electronic flow.