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different direction from the applied electric field, the material is said to be an anisotropic electrical conductor. Insulator (electrical)

Conducting copper wire insulated by an outer layer of polyethylene An insulator, also called a dielectric, is a material that resists the flow of electric current. An insulating material has atoms with tightly bonded valence electrons. These materials are used in parts of electrical equipment, also called insulators or insulation, intended to support or separate electrical conductors without passing current through themselves. The term is also used more specifically to refer to insulating supports that attach electric power transmission wires to utility poles or pylons. Some materials such as glass or Teflon are very good electrical insulators. A much larger class of materials, for example rubber-like polymers and most plastics are still "good enough" to insulate electrical wiring and cables even though they may have lower bulk resistivity. These materials can serve as practical and safe insulators for low to moderate voltages (hundreds, or even thousands, of volts). Physics of conduction in solids Electrical insulation is the absence of electrical conduction. Electronic band theory (a branch of physics) predicts that a charge will flow whenever there are states available into which the electrons in a material can be excited. This allows them to gain energy and thereby move through the conductor (usually a metal). If no such states are available, the material is an insulator. Most (though not all, see Mott insulator) insulators are characterized by having a large band gap. This occurs because the "valence" band containing the highest energy electrons is full, and a large energy gap separates this band from the next band above it. There is always some voltage (called the breakdown voltage) that will give the electrons enough energy to be excited into this band. Once this voltage is

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