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How to Calculate Conductivity from Resistance


Conductivity and resistance are fundamental concepts in the field of electrical engineering and physics. Conductivity refers to a material’s ability to conduct electric current, while resistance represents the impedance to the flow of current through a material.

Understanding how to calculate conductivity from resistance is essential in various applications, including electronics, material science, and industrial processes. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this relationship, providing detailed explanations and examples to help you master this critical skill.

How to Calculate Conductivity from Resistance

To accurately calculate conductivity from resistance, we need to understand the underlying principles and formulas involved. Let’s explore the step-by-step process:

1. Understanding Conductivity and Resistance

Before diving into calculations, it’s crucial to grasp the definitions of conductivity and resistance. Conductivity, denoted by the symbol “σ” (sigma), is the measure of a material’s ability to conduct electrical current. It is the reciprocal of resistance (R) and is typically measured in Siemens per meter (S/m). Resistance, on the other hand, represents the opposition to current flow and is measured in ohms (Ω).

2. The Relationship between Conductivity and Resistance

The relationship between conductivity (σ) and resistance (R) is given by the formula:

σ = 1 / R

Conversely, to find resistance (R) from conductivity (σ), we use the formula:

R = 1 / σ

3. Conductivity Calculation from Resistance

To calculate conductivity from resistance, follow these steps:

3.1. Obtain the Resistance Value

First, you need to measure or obtain the resistance value of the material in ohms (Ω).

3.2. Use the Conductivity Formula

Next, plug the resistance value into the conductivity formula:

σ = 1 / R


  • σ is the conductivity in Siemens per meter (S/m)
  • R is the resistance in ohms (Ω)

4. Examples of Conductivity Calculations

4.1. Example 1: Copper Wire

Let’s say we have a copper wire with a resistance of 0.02 ohms (Ω). To calculate its conductivity, use the formula:

σ = 1 / 0.02 = 50 S/m

Hence, the conductivity of the copper wire is 50 Siemens per meter (S/m).

4.2. Example 2: Glass

Suppose we have a glass sample with a resistance of 2 Megaohms (MΩ). Calculate its conductivity using the formula:

σ = 1 / 2000000 = 5 x 10-7 S/m

The conductivity of the glass sample is 5 x 10-7 Siemens per meter (S/m).

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q: What is the significance of conductivity and resistance in electrical engineering?

Conductivity and resistance are fundamental properties used to characterize materials’ ability to conduct electricity. In electrical engineering, conductivity helps determine which materials are suitable for specific applications, such as designing electrical wires, circuits, and electronic components.

Resistance, on the other hand, is crucial for understanding power dissipation and voltage drops in circuits.

Q: What are the units of conductivity and resistance?

Conductivity is typically measured in Siemens per meter (S/m), while resistance is measured in ohms (Ω).

Q: Can conductivity be negative?

No, conductivity cannot be negative. It is always a positive value or zero, representing the material’s ability to conduct current.

Q: How does temperature affect conductivity?

In most materials, conductivity increases with an increase in temperature due to enhanced mobility of charge carriers. However, in certain materials, conductivity may decrease with increasing temperature due to complex electron behavior.

Q: What are some applications of conductivity measurements?

Conductivity measurements find applications in various industries, including water quality analysis, semiconductor manufacturing, electrolysis processes, and environmental monitoring.

Q: How do I measure conductivity experimentally?

Conductivity is often measured using specialized instruments called conductivity meters, which pass an electric current through the material and measure the resulting voltage drop.


Understanding how to calculate conductivity from resistance is essential for anyone working with electrical systems and materials. The relationship between these two parameters is fundamental in numerous scientific and engineering applications. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can confidently perform conductivity calculations and apply this knowledge to various real-world scenarios.