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Why is copper used in coaxial cables?

baijiahao | 07/07/2021

Why is copper used in coaxial cables?

Copper is an ideal conductor for building wiring, but not because it is the most conductive metal. Silver is actually the best conductor, and its conductivity is 106% of that of annealed copper. However, the high cost of silver combined with low tensile strength limits its use in special applications, such as bonding plating and sliding contact surfaces.

Pound by pound (literally speaking), copper is not even as good as aluminum. When comparing the cubic density of copper (559 lbs/cubic foot) and aluminum (169 lbs/cubic foot), if you consider that the conductivity of aluminum is 56% of copper, the result is that one-and-a-half pounds of aluminum has the same value as nearly two pounds. The same capacitance as copper.

At first glance this sounds very promising, but the reduced conductivity of aluminum means that under the same current-carrying capacity, the cross-section of aluminum conductors will be 50% larger than that of copper, which makes copper more suitable for narrow spaces. Applications. For applications that favor conductor thickness, such as overhead transmission cables, copper is rarely used.

There are many other benefits of copper:

Tensile strength: The high strength of copper (approximately 2 times that of aluminum) can resist stretching, necking, creep, scratches and breakage, thereby reducing field failures and service interruptions.

Ductility: The ductility of copper makes it easy to reduce the diameter to very low tolerances. This has no conflict with tensile strength, as it is, copper is less prone to breaking under tensile load than other conductors.

Thermal expansion: Copper has a low thermal expansion coefficient. In contrast, aluminum expands by about 30% than copper. When the bolt connection is improperly installed, this higher degree of expansion and the ductility of aluminum can cause electrical problems.

Corrosion resistance: Copper is quite resistant to moisture, industrial pollution and other corrosion. An important distinguishing factor is that the oxides or other chemical compounds that do form on copper are conductive. Therefore, copper connections and terminals will not overheat due to corrosion due to the increase in conductor resistance.

Flexibility: Generally, the stronger the metal, the worse the flexibility. This is not the case with copper. The unique combination of high strength and high ductility makes copper an ideal choice for wiring systems. For example, at junction boxes and terminals, copper can be bent, twisted and pulled without stretching or breaking. Nevertheless, for larger cables, stranded copper wire (as opposed to solid wire) is usually used. Stranded wire makes the cable more flexible and has almost the same conductivity as a single-stranded (solid) conductor, thereby extending the service life of the cable. Solid wires are usually reserved for smaller diameters.

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