Resistance is due to collision with protons, and pretty much everything contains protons. So technically is everything a resistor? (Or at least, can anything be a resistor?)
resistance is due to collision with protons
Actually, there are lots of materials which don't contain protons outside of atomic nuclei — e.g. steel, glass, oxygen — but all these do have resistance. Dominant factors determining resistance vary from material to material: these can be scattering of electrons/holes by motion of atomic nuclei (i.e. by phonons), by point-like defects in the crystals, etc.. Scattering by protons you mention is a very specific case of scattering by impurities (crystal defects).
technically is everything a Resistor?(or atleast, anything can be a Resistor?)
Yes, anything can be a resistor, in suitable conditions. One important property of a resistor is that it obeys Ohm's law. If you apply too high voltage to e.g. pure silicon, its conductivity will abruptly increase due to electrical breakdown. In this range of voltages the piece of material shouldn't be considered a resistor. Or if you take a piece of mercury, cool it down below 4.2 kelvins, its resistivity will become exactly zero (superconductivity), after which it can't be considered a resistor.
Similarly with other materials – in the right conditions they'll be good enough resistors, outside of these conditions they aren't.
The definition of what a resistor is is not always clear. As an EE, I would recommend phrasing it "Everything has a resistance. Not everything is a resistor." Through every object, if there is a voltage difference from one side to the other, current will flow through it, however minuscule.
I would not call them resistors because it is more useful to reserve the term "resistor" for a component which I use in a way which is generally consistent with Ohm's Law. For example, a capacitor has resistance. Electrons will eventually move from one side of a capacitor to another, given a sufficient voltage across the capacitor. I can calculate it's resistance. However, the behavior of a capacitor is generally very far from that of a resistor, so thinking of that capacitor as a resistor would only confuse me unless I am specifically looking at the leakage currents through a circuit.
Likewise, any high voltage electrician will tell you that everything conducts: air, rubber, plastic, glass, sulfur-hexafloride. Everything conducts. Not everything is considered to be a conductor. Those insulators holding up the power lines above our heads have one job: to not be a conductor. That being said, they do indeed conduct some current. They are just designed to do it so minimally that they can be used as an insulator as well.
In electrical engineering, "resistor" means two things:
- A theoretical two terminal device with a voltage drop equal to the current times a value "R" which is the resistance of the resistor.
- The physical devices sold to act as closely as possible to the theoretical abstraction above (also the most commonly used items in circuit design).
So a diode, for example will look nothing like a resistor. It will have two terminals, but voltage as a function of current will be exponential instead of linear.
Another big issue from a physics standpoint is that voltage and current are mostly defined on a macroscopic scale (although I assume that engineers speak of voltage and current even with the smallest produced chips). I doubt the concept is well defined on the atomic level.
So while "resistor" may sound like a good description of something between "conductor" and "insulator", be aware that "resistor" implies a linear relation across many voltage and current levels. I'd say no. "Everything" is just too broad and "resistor" far too narrow. Saying "everything is a resistor" is as equally true (and false) as saying "everything is an inductor" or "everything is a capacitor". It completely ignores the meaning of "resistor".
It appears that you have some terminology misunderstanding.
Resistance is a property exhibited by all materials, but it is due to the electrons, NOT the protons (by definition).
A resistor is a particular electric component that exhibits resistance.
With these definitions in place, it becomes obvious that everything is not a resistor, but anything that offers opposition to electron flow, has resistance.
A good number of metals and some ceramics are superconductors at low temperature. Donut-shaped superconductors have maintained a flow of current for years. These experiments/demonstrations prove that not all materials exhibit electrical resistance. To answer the question: no, not all materials are resistors.
An argument might be made that some superconductors cannot be resistors (or exhibit resistivity) below their transition temperatures in the absence of external forces. The electrons are in a "condensed" state and cannot be scattered, the cause of resistance for normal conductors.
Resistance is related to atomic and molecular structure and not directly to protons. Low resistance materials like metals have degenerate electrons, higher resistance materials the opposite. For metals, resistance is lowest for highly regular molecular/crystal structures. It is reduced as temperature is lowered because electron scattering is reduced.
protected by AccidentalFourierTransform Aug 21 at 1:49
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