Atoms and Electricity

This tutorial aims to explain electricity and concepts such as voltage, wattage and amperage at an atomic level.

helium Classic, Bohr atom model.

The illustration above shows the classic model of a helium atom. Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr proposed the Bohr model in 1913. In their model, electrons orbit a positively charged nucleus in various shells which represent energy levels. Atoms tend to have equal numbers of protons and electrons while also maintaining complete electron shells.

This model has been superseded by a newer quantum model, but this will suffice for explaining elecrical concepts.

Some elements are normally neutrally charged while maintaining complete electron shells. These noble gases are very stable and do not normally form compounds with other elements. They also make very poor electrical conductors.


Elements with a single electron in their outermost shells (valence electrons) are excellent conductors. A single, valence electron is easy to strip from its shell.

Electrons flowing between copper atoms