Last updated on June 4th, 2022 at 02:12 pm

Here we will derive the equation showing the relationship between current and drift velocity. The **drift velocity **is the average velocity of the free charges and it is in the direction opposite to the electric field for electrons.

Drift velocity is quite small since there are so many free charges. If we have an estimate of the density of free electrons in a conductor, we can calculate the drift velocity for a given current. The larger the density, the lower the velocity required for a given current.

**Derive the relationship between Current and drift velocity** | Derivation of the drift velocity equation

For a conductor, the **current I*** *is given by:

**I = nAvq**

where *A *= area of cross-section of the conductor, n = number of charge carriers per cubic meter, *q *= charge on each charge carrier and* v = drift velocity of charge carriers*.

**Note: for electron I = nAve, where e is the charge of an electron**

This equation may be deduced as follows, with reference to Figure a:

● Consider a section of wire of length Δ*x*

● The volume of wire in this section will be

Δ*V *= *A*Δ*x*

If there are *n *charge carriers per unit volume in the wire, the number in volume Δ*V *will be

Δ*N *= *n*Δ*V *= *nA*Δ*x*

● If the charge on each charge carrier is *q*, the quantity of charge within the section will be

Δ*Q *= *nAq*Δ*x*

● Suppose each charge carrier takes a time Δ*t *to travel the distance Δ*x**.*

● Dividing both sides of the equation by Δ*t *gives us

Δ*Q/*Δ*t *= *nAq ***Δ***x***/****Δ***t*

● But Δ*Q/*Δ*t *= *I *and* *Δ*x/*Δ*t *= *v*

● **Hence I = nAvq **

So this is the equation describing the relationship between current(I) and the drift velocity(v).

So this is the equation describing the relationship between current(I) and the drift velocity(v).

When the charge carrier is an electron this equation can be rewritten as **I = nAve**, where e is the charge of an electron

As you have derived the current & drift velocity equation, now it’s time to solve a few numerical problems using this formula. Here is the post you must visit to solve some selected problems.

**Related Reading:**

**Solve numerical problems using the current-drift velocity equation**

**How Small drift speed of electron causes high-speed electric current?**