Electrostatics | Electric Charge | Electrostatics


Frictional electricity is the electricity developed on objects, when they are rubbed with each other. The electricity so developed cannot move from one part of the object to other part. Hence, frictional electricity is also called static electricity. Electrostatics is the branch of electronics which deals with the charges and forces resulting from electrons and protons at rest, or static. Charge is a scalar quantity. There are two kinds of charges- positive charge and negative charge Charge originates at the fundamental particle level. For the atomic particles forming stable matter have Proton = +1 unit of charge Electron = -1 unit of charge Neutron = 0 charge A positive charge of an object means that the object has lost electrons. A negative charge of an object means that the object has gained electrons. Properties of electric charge

• • •

Charge can neither be created nor be destroyed. The total charge of an isolated system remains constant. This is law of conservation of charge. Quantization of charge: All existing charges are integral multiples of the fundamental charge, e (1.6 x 10

C). The charge on an body is

± ne .

The electric charge is additive: The total charge on an object is the algebraic sum of all the charges located at different points of the object. Like charges repel and unlike charges attract.

For the study of electrostatics we divide materials into two classes: Conductors which allow charge to move freely through them (metals and carbon in which the outermost atomic electrons are “free” to move through the crystalline atomic lattice of the material) Insulators in which charge does not move but stays where it is placed (glass, quartz, mica, rubber, plastics in which the atomic electrons are tightly bound to their nuclei and are not free to move) COULOMB’S LAW The magnitude of the force of attraction or repulsion between two electric charges at rest was studied by Charles Coulomb. He formulated a law, known as "COULOMB'S LAW". Statement According to Coulomb's law: “The electrostatic force of attraction or repulsion between two point charges is directly proportional to the product of charges and inversely proportional to the square of distance between them.” MATHEMATICAL REPRESENTATION OF COULOMB'S LAW Consider two point charges q1 and q2 placed at a distance of r from each other. Let the electrostatic force between them is F.

According to the law:

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Combining above statements:


---------------------(1) Where k is the constant of proportionality which depends on the medium and the units used for charges. Value of K is equal to volume is 8.854 x 10


4Π ε


if the medium is air or vacuum, where ε


is permittivity of free space .Its


1 4πε 0


1 = 8.98755 ×10 9 Nm 2C −2 = 9 ×10 9 Nm 2C −2 −12 4 × 3.14 ×8.854 ×10
9 2 -2

Thus in S.I. system numerical value of K is 9 x 10 Nm c . Putting the value of K = 1/4π ε 0 in equation (i)

− − − − − ( 2)
The force acts along the line joining the charges. FORCE IN THE PRESENCE OF DIELECTRIC MEDIUM If the space between the charges is filled with a non conducting medium or an insulator called "dielectric", it is found that the dielectric reduces the electrostatic force as compared to free space by a factor called DIELECTRIC CONSTANT. It is denoted by ε r. This factor is also known as RELATIVE PERMITTIVITY. It has different values for different dielectric materials. In the presence of a dielectric between two charges the Coulomb's law is expressed as:

medium. Dividing equation (2) by equation (3),

1 q1q2 F = ⋅ − − − − − − − −(3) , where med 4πε r 2


is called absolute permittivity of the

ε ε ε is denoted r , called relative permittivity of the medium with respect to the medium. It is also denoted by
K, called dielectric constant of the medium. Therefore, equation (4) gives, F ε ε = = vac − − − −(5) r ε F 0 med Thus, relative permittivity or dielectric constant of a medium may be defined as the ratio of force between two charges placed at a certain distance apart in air to the force between the same two charges placed the same distance apart in that medium. VECTOR FORM OF COULOMB'S LAW

qq ⋅ 1 2 2 F 4π ε ε vac = 0 r = − − − − − − − − − −( 4) qq F ε 1 1 2 med 0 ⋅ 4π ε r 2 1

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Consider two point charges q1 and q2 separated by a distance r. If q1 q2 > 0 i.e. if both q1 and q2 are +ve or both q1 and q2 are negative then the charges repel each other otherwise they attract each other.

So the forces exerted by charges on each other are equal in magnitude opposite in direction

PRINCIPLE OF SUPERPOSITION The principle of superposition gives a method to find force on a charge, when a group of charges are interacting. It states that- “when a number of charges are interacting, the total force on a given charge is the vector sum of the individual forces exerted on the given charge by all the other charges.” Consider n point charges q1, q2, q3, ……qn are distributed in space. The charges are interacting with each other.    Let us find the force on q1due to all other charges. If the charges q2, q3, ……qn exert forces F 2 , F 3 , …. F n 1 1 1 on the charge q1 (fig), then according to principle of superposition, the total force on charge q1 is given by

    F1 = F12 + F13 +....... + F1n − − − − − − − − − − − (6)

ˆ If the distance between the charges q1 and q2 is denoted as r 2 ; and r 2 is unit vector from charge q2 to q1, 1 1


 F12 =

1 q1q2 ˆ ⋅ r21 4π ε r12 2 0
 F13 = qq 1 ˆ ⋅ 1 22 r31 4π ε r13 0 qq 1 ˆ ⋅ 1 22 rn1 4π ε r1n 0

Similarly, the force on charge q1 due to other charges is given by

…………………………………………… ……………………………………………..

 F1n =

   Hence, substituting for F 2 , F 3 , …. F n in equation (6), the total force on the charge q1 due to all other 1 1 1 charges is given by-

    F1 = F12 + F13 + ....... + F1n =

1 4π ε 0

 q1q2  qq qq  2 r21 + 1 23 r31 + ........ + 1 2n rn1  − − − − − − − − − (7) ˆ ˆ ˆ r  r13 r1n  12 

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The same procedure can be adopted for finding the force on any other charge due to remaining charges of the group of n charges.

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