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Direction of current flow and electron flow | Why are they opposite to each other?


Direction of current flow and electron flow- why are they opposite to each other?

No matter how much research we do about voltage and current, people just can’t get enough of it. The people are always curious regarding it. Moreover, most curiosity arises about why electron and current flow opposite to each other? In short, their flow must be towards the same direction. That is, the current must travel in the same direction as that of the electron. But, it is not the concept in this case. Why so? Have you ever wondered? Well, it is one of the extensively questioned terms too.

Direction of current flow
Wire and Electricity Flow

So what is the reason?

For eating a ripe mango, you throw a stone at it. Eventually, the mango falls off the tree. The stone might have gained some amount of force. As a result, the mango falls off the tree.
Now we can compare the phenomenon of electrons deviating and flowing from a conductor to the falling of the mango.

In this case, what is comparable to the throwing of the stone?

Here, the throwing of the stone is the voltage. Voltage deviates the electrons from its conductor. Current is induced due to the potential difference at the two points of the conducting wire. And, this flow takes place from high voltage to low voltage.
Again, this whole concept can be beautifully explained using an example. Let us suppose, there are two water tanks. The first tank is filled with water. The second one is half-filled. Now, if a pipe is connected between them, the water will surely flow from the first tank to the second.
So we have understood that current is flowing from the high voltage level to the low voltage level.

Basic Concept of Electron flow through a Dry Cell

Consider a dry cell as shown here.
Direction of current flow
A Dry Cell
This cell has one positive and one negative terminal. The difference in potential between these two terminals is measured in volt. This difference is due to an excess of electrons at the negative terminal compared to the positive terminal. If we connect a wire across these two terminals the potential difference causes an electric current to flow in the circuit. This current is nothing but a flow of electrons that come out from the negative terminal move along the wire and enter the cell by the positive terminal. However, before the invention of this electron theory of current flow, the scientists of the 17th century arbitrarily decided that the electric current flows from positive potential to negative potential. This so-called conventional flow of current till today is accepted as the direction of electric current flow.

But why is the direction of current flow the opposite?

Old Concept of the direction of current flow

There was an old concept that electricity is the flow of positive charge. And, the positively charged part was considered high voltage and the negatively charged part as low voltage. Keeping this in mind, it was said that current or positive charge flows from positive (high voltage) to negative (low voltage).

New Concept of the direction of current flow

Later, electrons were discovered. This discovery led to confusion in the above-stated concept. Because this electron moves from the negative end to the positive end of the conducting wire. Meanwhile, a lot of people already believed in the ancient concept. They believed that the current flows from the positive to the negative end. Now, this concept was not changed. Two of the concepts were kept. Now, by combining both the concepts, a single concept was proposed. The flow of current and the flow of electrons are opposite to each other. If there is still any confusion remaining regarding the matter, let’s learn using two practical incidents.

Incident 1:

Direction of current flow
Swimming Fishes

Fish swims in a lake. In the direction in which the fish swims, the flow of the lake water is opposite to it.
Now, consider the fish as an electron and the lake’s flow as the flow of current.

Incident 2:

Direction of current flow
A Man Giving Speech

In a seminar, a very wise man will give a speech. All the audience present can ask him questions. As the wise man is enriched with more knowledge, then we can assume him as high voltage. The audience is the low voltage in comparison with the wise man. Now, when the wise man is providing his knowledge among the people means the flow of current. Moreover, the audience while asking questions is the flow of electrons.

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