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Q: What is a conductor/conductance?

A: A conductor, in a cable, is the central material that carries an electrical current typically generated by the flow of negative ions along the surface of the metal. A conductor provides conductance (the ease at which an electric field can flow). Conducting materials include metals, electrolytes, superconductors, semiconductors, plasmas and some non-metals such as graphite or polymers. Copper in particular has a high conductivity, so annealed copper is the international standard to which all other conductors are compared.

Carbon, silver, copper, annealed copper, gold and aluminum (in that order) are the best conductors and most commonly used materials in cabling. Silver is more costly but is often used at higher frequencies to mitigate skin effect losses. Aluminum wires are often used for low voltage distribution, such as buried cables and service drops and it is the most common metal used for high-voltage transmission lines, in combination with steel as structural reinforcement.

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