The number of electrons in the outer orbit (valence shell or ring) determines the atom's ability to conduct electricity. Electrons in the inner rings are closer to the core, strongly attracted to the protons, and are called bound electrons. Electrons in the outer ring are further away from the core, less strongly attracted to the protons, and are called free electrons.
Electrons can be freed by forces such as friction, heat, light, pressure, chemical action, or magnetic action. These freed electrons move away from the electromotive force, or EMF ("electron moving force"), from one atom to the next. A stream of free electrons forms an electrical current.
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