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The resistor is perhaps the simplest of passive circuit elements as its name suggests, it resists the current through it, dissipating its energy as heat. The resistance is a consequence of the motion of charge through a conductor in metals, for example, resistance is primarily due to collisions between electrons and ions. Ohms law is a basic law of circuit theory, stating that the current passing through a resistance is directly proportional to the potential difference across it. The resistance of most materials is relatively constant over a range of temperatures and currents; materials under these conditions are known as ohmic. The ohm, the unit of resistance, was named in honour of Georg Ohm, and is symbolised by the Greek letter ?. 1 ? is the resistance that will produce a potential difference of one volt in response to a current of one amp.

The capacitor is a development of the Leyden jar and is a device that can store charge, and thereby storing electrical energy in the resulting field. It consists of two conducting plates separated by a thin insulating dielectric layer; in practice, thin metal foils are coiled together, increasing the surface area per unit volume and therefore the capacitance. The unit of capacitance is the farad, named after Michael Faraday, and given the symbol F one farad is the capacitance that develops a potential difference of one volt when it stores a charge of one coulomb. A capacitor connected to a voltage supply initially causes a current as it accumulates charge; this current will however decay in time as the capacitor fills, eventually falling to zero. A capacitor will therefore not permit a steady state current, but instead blocks it.

The inductor is a conductor, usually a coil of wire, that stores energy in a magnetic field in response to the current through it. When the current changes, the magnetic field does too, inducing a voltage between the ends of the conductor. The induced voltage is proportional to the time rate of change of the current. The constant of proportionality is termed the inductance. The unit of inductance is the henry, named after Joseph Henry, a contemporary of Faraday. One henry is the inductance that will induce a potential difference of one volt if the current through it changes at a rate of one ampere per second. The inductors behaviour is in some regards converse to that of the capacitor it will freely allow an unchanging current, but opposes a rapidly changing one.