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Kirchhoff's Current Law (KCL)

I. Charge (current flow) conservation law (the Kirchhoffs Current law)

2 e p Pi

Pipe 1
Pip e3

Total volume of water per second flowing through pipe 1 = total volume of water per second flowing through pipe 2 + total volume of water per second flowing through pipe 3

I. Charge (current flow) conservation law (the Kirchhoffs Current law)

I2 I1

I3
Total current (charge per second) entering the node through the wire 1 = total current leaving the node through the wire 2 total current leaving the node through the wire 3

Kirchhoff's Current Law (KCL)

"The algebraic sum of all currents entering and leaving a node must equal zero"

KCL Example 1

I0 =10 mA

I2 =?

R2

V0

R1

Entering current: I0 Leaving currents: I1, I2 I0 = I1 + I2;

I2 = I0 I1; I2 =10 mA 4 mA = 6 mA

KCL Example 2
A
I0 I2 I1

B
I3

Network fragment

I4

I3= 0.5 mA Considering node B: I4 = ? I4 = I1- I3 = 2 mA 0.5 mA = 1.5 mA

KCL can be applied to any single node of the network. KCL is valid for any circuit component: diode, resistor, transistor etc.

Problem 1
R1 I0 IC1 R2 R3 IC2 R4 IC3 I4

T2

T3

0 of 40

180
Timed response

Circuits with multiple sources

+ +

VB1
-

VB2
-

In circuits with more than one source, the current directions are not obvious up front.

VB1
-

VB2
-

VB1
-

VB2
-

The actual current directions depend on the potential profile in the circuit.

1 = 8 V;

2 = 4.5 V;

12V

6V

Suppose the potentials are known. Then the current directions are as shown. (Of course, knowing the potentials requires solving the circuit!)

For different potential distribution, the current directions could be different:

1 = 7 V;

2 = 9 V;

6V

12V

Suppose the potentials are known. Then the current directions are as shown. (Of course, knowing the potentials requires solving the circuit!)

The actual current direction depends on the potential difference across the component
1 = 7 V 1 R=1k 2 = 2 V 2 I

V12 = 1 2

V I12 = 12 = 1 2 R R

If 1 > 2, the current 5 mA flows from the node #1 to the node #2

The actual current direction depends on the potential difference across the component
1 = 7 V 1 R=1k V21 = 2 1 2 = 12 V 2 +5 mA

V21 2 1 12V 7V I 21 = = = = 5mA R R 1k

If 1 < 2, the actual current 5 mA flows from node #2 to node #1 We can also say that, the current defined as flowing from node#1 to node# 2 is negative in this case. V12 = 1 2

- 5 mA

(Entering) = (Leaving) (Entering) - (Leaving) =0

Assigning positive signs to the currents entering the node and negative signs to the currents leaving the node, the KCL can be re-formulated as:

(All currents at the node) = 0

Problem 2
I2 I1 I4 I3 I1 = 1 A I2 = 3 A I3 = 0.5 A

Find the current I4 in A

0 of 40

120
Timed response

Problem 2
I2 I1 I4 I1 = 4 A I2 = 3 A I3 = 0.5 A

I3

Find the current I4 in A

0 of 40

120
Timed response

Parallel Circuits

The defining characteristic of a parallel circuit is that all components are connected between the same two wires (ideal conductors).

In a parallel circuit, the voltages across all the components are the same, no matter how many components are connected. There could be many paths for currents to flow.

Simple parallel circuits

E=

The voltage drops are equal across all the components in the circuit. Why? V12 = V23 = V34 =0 (voltage drops across the wires = 0)

1 = 2 = 3 = 4 = E;
Similarly,

5 = 6 = 7 = 8 = 0 ;
From these: V27 = V36= V45 = E;

Currents in the parallel circuits

E=

Using the Ohms law: I1 = V27/R1 = E/R1 I2 = V36/R2 = E/R2 I3 = V45/R3 = E/R3

Currents in the parallel circuits

What is the total current in the circuit?

IT
E=

I1

I2

I3

Currents in the parallel circuits

IT
E=

I1

I2

I3

I1 = V27/R1 = E/R1 = 9V/10k = 0.9 mA I2 = V36/R2 = E/R2 = 9V/2k = 4.5 mA I3 = V45/R3 = E/R3 = 9V/1k = 9 mA IT = 0.9 + 4.5+ 9 = 14.4 mA

Equivalent resistance for parallel circuits

IT
E=

I1

I2

I3

REQ

IT = I1 + I2 + I3; IT = E(1/R1+ 1/R2+ 1/R3) Let us replace the part of network containing R1, R2 and R3 with a single resistor RT. Then IT = E/REQ (the Ohms law)

If some resistors in the network or a part of it, are connected in parallel, then the equivalent resistance is:
1/REQP = 1/R1 + 1/R2+1/R3

IT
E=

I1

I2

I3

1/REQP = 1/R1 + 1/R2+1/R3 Note: G = 1 / R; GT = G1 + G2 + G3

Another formulation of the parallel connection rule:

The equivalent resistance

1/REQ = 1/R1 + 1/R2
1 REQ = 1 1 R1 + R2 + = R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 R2 R1 + R2

REQ =

Current division in a parallel circuit

E I1 = R1 I2 = E R2 I1 G1 = I 2 G2

I1 R2 = I 2 R1