Getting Down to Atoms

Electrons that "Vibrate"

To understand electricity, we need to think about the world at the atomic level. Air, water, living beings and matter are all made up of tiny atoms. To give you a sense of dimension, the width of a single hair is equal to over a million atoms side by side!


   (in French only)
What we call "electricity" is actually electric energy. To understand how it behaves, we need to look inside the structure of matter.

Each atom has a nucleus surrounded by a definite number of electrons. An electron is a particle of negative energy that revolves around the nucleus as a satellite does around the Earth. The electrons of certain materials, such as copper, aluminum and other metals, can easily leave their orbits; these materials are called conductors.

The electrons of other materials, like ceramic, cannot escape from their orbits; these are called insulators.

When we wave a magnet over a wire made of a metal such as copper, we create a movement of electrons in that wire. The electrons jump from one atom to the next in a domino effect which is what we call electric current. This is how we're able to deliver electricity to your home.

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