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The siemens (symbol: S) is the SI derived unit of electric conductance. Siemens denote the reciprocal of resistance: one siemens is equal to the reciprocal of one ohm, and is sometimes refered to as the mho. It is named after the German inventor and industrialist Ernst Werner von Siemens. In English, the term siemens is used both for the singular and plural. The 14th General Conference on Weights and Measures approved the addition of the siemens as an SI derived unit in 1971.

This SI unit is named after Ernst Werner von Siemens. As with every SI unit whose name is derived from the proper name of a person, the first letter of its symbol is uppercase (S). When an SI unit is spelled out in English, it should always begin with a lowercase letter (siemens), except where any word would be capitalized, such as at the beginning of a sentence or in capitalized material such as a title. Note that "degree Celsius" conforms to this rule because the "d" is lowercase.
Based on The International System of Units, section 5.2.

Contents

Definition

SI multiples for siemens (S)
Submultiples Multiples
Value Symbol Name Value Symbol Name
10–1 S dS decisiemens 101 S daS decasiemens
10–2 S cS centisiemens 102 S hS hectosiemens
10–3 S mS millisiemens 103 S kS kilosiemens
10–6 S µS microsiemens 106 S MS megasiemens
10–9 S nS nanosiemens 109 S GS gigasiemens
10–12 S pS picosiemens 1012 S TS terasiemens
10–15 S fS femtosiemens 1015 S PS petasiemens
10–18 S aS attosiemens 1018 S ES exasiemens
10–21 S zS zeptosiemens 1021 S ZS zettasiemens
10–24 S yS yoctosiemens 1024 S YS yottasiemens
Common multiples are in bold face.

For a physical object, typically an electronic device, with electrical resistance R, the conductance G is defined as

G = \frac{1}R = \frac{I}V,

where I is the electric current through the object and V is the voltage (electrical potential difference) across the object.

The unit siemens for the conductance G is defined by

\mbox{S} = \Omega^{-1} = \dfrac{\mbox{A}}{\mbox{V}}

where A is the electric current in amperes, V is the electric potential in volts, and Ω is the electrical resistance in ohms.

For a device with a conductance of one siemens, the electric current through the device will increase by one ampere for every increase of one volt of electric potential difference across the device.

Example: The conductance of a resistor with resistance six ohms is G = 1/(6 Ω) ≈ 0.167 S ≈ 167 mS.

Historical/Deprecated

Since 1860 to the middle of 20th century, siemens or siemens mercury unit, was the unit of electrical resistance. It was defined as the resistance of a mercury column 1 meter long and 1 mm2 c.s.a. (cross sectional area) at 0 degrees Celsius. It was equivalent to 0.953 Ohm approximately. Officially, it ceased usage after 1881, but was widely used in telegraph and telephone services until World War II.

Mho

Siemens is also referred to by the term mho, which was derived from spelling ohm backwards and written with an upside-down capital Greek letter Omega: \mho, Unicode symbol U+2127 (). According to Maver[1] the term mho was suggested by Sir William Thomson.

The term siemens, as it is an SI unit, is used universally in science and often in electrical applications, while mho is still used primarily in electronic applications. Two reasons are usually given for using mho instead of siemens in electronic applications:

  • The inverted Omega and the mho, while not an official SI abbreviation, has the advantage of being less likely to be confused with a variable than the letter S when doing algebraic calculations by hand, where the usual typographical distinctions (such as italic for variables and Roman for unit names) are difficult to maintain. Likewise, it is difficult to distinguish the symbol S from the lower case s where second is meant, potentially causing confusion.
  • The term siemens could be confused with the large multinational electronics company Siemens.

References

  1. ^ Maver, William: American Telegraphy and Encyclopedia of the Telegraph: Systems, Apparatus, Operation. 1903.







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