Let’s delve into the understanding of current flow in circuits through both the conventional and electron flow models, along with their historical context and the contributions of notable inventors:

1. Conventional Model:

  • Description: The conventional model posits that current flows from the positive terminal to the negative terminal of a battery or power source.
  • Historical Context: This model has its roots in the early understanding of electricity. Benjamin Franklin is often credited with introducing the concept of positive and negative charges in the 18th century. He proposed that electric current moved from positive to negative.
  • Representation: In circuit diagrams and equations, current is symbolized by “I” and is depicted as moving from positive to negative.
  • Application: While the conventional model simplifies the understanding of circuits and remains widely used in engineering and education, it doesn’t align with the actual movement of electrons.

2. Electron Flow Model:

  • Description: The electron flow model, used in physics and electronics, states that current is the movement of negatively charged electrons from the negative terminal to the positive terminal of a power source.
  • Historical Context: The understanding of electron flow emerged in the late 19th century, notably through the work of scientists such as J.J. Thomson and his discovery of the electron in 1897.
  • Inventors’ Contributions:
    • Benjamin Franklin: Introduced the concept of positive and negative charges, laying the groundwork for the conventional model of current flow.
    • J.J. Thomson: Discovered the electron, which provided insights into the actual carriers of electric charge, leading to the electron flow model.
  • Representation: In the electron flow model, current is understood as the movement of electrons from negative to positive. This model aligns with the behavior of electrons in conductive materials.
  • Application: The electron flow model provides a more accurate depiction of current flow and is crucial for understanding the behavior of charge carriers in electrical circuits.


  • The conventional model posits that current flows from positive to negative, while the electron flow model states that current is the movement of electrons from negative to positive.
  • Benjamin Franklin’s work contributed to the conventional model, while J.J. Thomson’s discovery of the electron laid the foundation for the electron flow model.
  • Both models have their utility in understanding circuits, with the conventional model being more prevalent in practical applications and the electron flow model offering a more accurate representation of charge carrier movement.

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