Drift velocity : Definition, Formula, Example, Relationship with Electric Current, Relationship with Current Density

Drift velocity: Drift is the slow motion of an object or thing. The average speed of charged particles within the material caused by electrical fields is referred to as the drift velocity. In this presentation we will discuss more about the details of the drift velocity.

A measure of the vector direction and rate of motion is referred to as velocity. Simply it is how quickly something is moving in a single direction. It can be used to determine what speed a car traveling north on a major road as well as the speed of rockets that launch into space. In this article, we will discover more about velocity of drift.

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Drift velocity

The term “drift velocity” is due to the fact that electrons drift into the opposing direction to the electric field when it is at a low speeds and high temperatures between two collisions. The term “drift velocity” refers to the average velocity of particles, like an electron in the course of the electric field’s actions. Since the motion of the object is thought to occur in a plane the axial velocity may be used to define the motion.

“Drift velocity” is “The Average velocity with which the free electrons get drifted towards the positive end of the conductor under the influence of an external electric field.”

The random movement of electrons that are free inside the conductor may be used to determine the velocity of drift. The electrons are still moving in a random manner due to the field, however their random motion shifts towards a higher voltage. This suggests that electrons are moving towards the conductor’s higher-potential end. In turn, every electron will experience an overall velocity that is towards the conductor’s finish. Drift current is the term used to describe it. Drift current is produced by the movement of electrons within the conductor.

What is Drift Velocity?

Subatomic particles, like electrons, are able to move in different directions every day. When electrons are exposed to an electric field, they wander around in random directions, but gradually move in one direction, in line with the electric field applied. The speed at which electrons wander is called the velocity of drift.

Drift velocity may be described as:

The average velocity achieved by charged particles (eg. electrons) in a substance caused by electrical field.

The SI unit for drift velocity is m/s. Also, it is measured as the form of m 2./(V.s).Average speed of drift and directions of electric fields.

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Net velocity of electrons:

Any material that is with a temperature above absolute zero that is able to conduct as metals will possess some free electrons that move at a an undetermined speed. If you apply a potential to conductors, electrons generally move toward the positive potential. However, when the electrons move they encounter atoms, and bounce back, or lose some of their energy kinetic. However, because of electrical field electrons will speed up again and these random collisions will occur however, since the acceleration remains along the same path because of electrical field. Therefore, the final speed of electrons will also be the same.

Formula To Calculate Drift Velocity

We can apply the following formula to determine the drift velocity:



  • I is the flow of current through the conductor that is measured in amperes.
  • N is the number of electrons
  • A is the cross-sectional area of the conductor, which is measured in millimeters 2
  • The drift velocity of electrons
  • Q is the electron’s charge that can be measured using Coulombs


Let’s look at the current of 3A which flows through an copper conductor that has an area of 1 mm. 1 (1×10 -62)

We are aware that for copper, n is 8.5 10 28 per millimeter 3

According to the formula, we can say that3 = 8.5x1028x1x10-6xvx1.6×10-19




v=2.205882×10-4 ms-1

If the strength of electric fields increases then electrons accelerate more quickly in toward the direction of positive, in opposition towards the direction the field that is applied.

Electronic mobility:

The speed of drifting an electron in an electric field unit is referred to in the field of movement of electron.

Electron mobility is determined by:


Relationship Between Drift Velocity and Electric Current

The rate of mobility is always positive value and is dependent on the characteristics and characteristics of the charged carrier. the speed of drift of an electron is quite low, typically in the range of 10 3ms 1. So, at this rate, it takes approximately. 17 minutes for electrons traverse a conductor that is 1 meters. However, it is surprising that it is possible to turn on electronic appliances at home at lightning speed at the flick of an electronic switch. This is due to the fact that the electric current isn’t created by the drift velocity but rather with speeds of light.

When the electric field has been established, the current will begin flowing through the conductor at the speed of light, in contrast to the pace at which electrons are moving. Therefore, there is a minimal time delay between input and output the turning on an electric bulb.

The Relationship Between Drift Velocity and the Current Density

Current density can be defined as the sum of current that flows through a single conductor in one unit time. From the drift velocity, we have the formula for the drift velocity to be:
I = nAvQ
J = I/A = nVQ

  • J represents the density currently, measured in amps per square meter
  • V is the velocity of drift of electrons

Thun, we can state that the speed of drift of electrons and their density in current is directly related with each the other. In addition, when the electric field intensity rises the speed of drift increases and the flow of current through the conductor is also increasing.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What exactly is velocity?

Velocity refers to the speed that bodies alter their positions in relation to a frame of reference (rate change in the position). Velocity is the relationship between the speed of a body and its direction of the propagation.

What is the meaning of the term “drift velocity?

It is the velocity attained by the charged particle (like proton or electron) within the body as a result of the electric field. The electron in conductors moves in a random manner at the Fermi velocity, creating the zero average velocity.

What exactly is electron mobility?

Electron mobility is typically described as the rate of drift in units of electrical field.

What formula can be used to determine the velocity of drift?

The formula is
I = nAvQ
1. The current running through the conductor
The number of electrons
A is the area of the conductor’s cross-section.
V is the velocity of drift of electrons
Q – the charge that is an electron

What are the features of the velocity of drift?

  • The velocity of drift is directly proportional to the current.
  • If the electric force is imposed over a conductor electrons are able to jump toward the high-potential end of the wire.
  • If an electric field is not supplied to the conductor the electrons inside move in a variety of directions and speeds.
  • The amount of current flowing through conductors is directly proportional electrons’ speed of drift.

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