Dielectric Vs Conductor | Difference between dielectric and conductor

This page compares dielectric vs conductor and mentions difference between dielectric and conductor with respect to various parameters.


• Material which contains movable free electric charges is known as conductor.
• The conducting material holds on its electrons loosely. Hence it allows electric current to pass through.
• The most common conductor materials include copper, aluminium, gold, silver, steel or any other metals.

Difference between Dielectric and Conductor


• The dielectric materials are free from electrons as this material holds its electrons very tightly. It does not allow electric current to pass through. It is considered as non-conducting material. It is also known as insulator.
• Dielectric electrons are strongly bounded to the atom.
• In a dielectric, externally applied electric field (Eext) can not cause mass migration of charges since none are able to move freely. But Eext can polarize the atoms or molecules in the material.
• The most common dielectric materials include mica, teflon, fused quartz, titanium dioxide, paper, glass, diamond, dry woood, benzene, glycerin etc.

The figure depicts parallel plate capacitor with two conductor plates separated by dielectric material. Capacitance, C = K*C0 ;
Where, C0 = ε0 * A/d ;
"A" is the area of the plate and "d" is the distance between the plates.
εo is the permittivity of the air
K is the dielectric constant or relative permittivity of the dielectric

Difference between dielectric and conductor

Following table summarizes difference between dielectric and conductor.

Parameters Dielectric Conductor
Function Acts as insulator which does not allow current to flow through it. Acts as conductor which allows current to flow through it.
Electric field (E) direction It is parallel to surface of dielectric material. It is perpendicular to surface of conductor material.
Electric field presence It is present inside. It is not present inside.
Free charge carriers Dielectric substances do not contain free charge carriers. Very small number of free charge carriers exist. Conductor substances contain free charge carriers,
Temperature effect on conductivity It increases with temperature. It decreases with temperature.
Bulk conductivity Small Large
Polarization Electric polarization dominates. There is no electric polarization upto 1016 Hz
Examples Air, plastic, wood, rubber, Mica etc. Copper, gold, silver, iron, aluminium etc.

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