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What is Electrostatics?
• It is the study of electromagnetic phenomena that occur when there are no
moving charges – i.e., after a static equilibrium has been established.
• Charges reach their equilibrium positions rapidly because the electric force is
extremely strong.
• It is the interactions of electric charges that are at rest in our frame of
• It is governed by a simple relationship known as Coulomb’s Law and
described by using the concept of electric field.
What is Electricity?
• It is the phenomenon associated with stationary or moving electric charges.
• Electric charge is a fundamental property of matter and is borne by
elementary particles.
• In electricity the particle involved is the electron, which carries a charge
designated, by conversion, as negative.
What is Static Electricity
• It is a familiar electric phenomenon in which charged particles are
transferred from one body to another.
• Example: If two objects are rubbed together, especially if the objects are
insulators and the surrounding air is dry, the objects acquire equal and
opposite charges and an attractive force develops between them.
Electric Charge?
• It is derived from a Greek word electron meaning amber.
• It is the basic property of matter carried by some elementary particles.
• It can be positive or negative. Two positive charges or two negative charges
repel each other. A positive and a negative charge attract each other.
• It occurs in discrete natural units and is either created nor destroyed.
• Unlike charges attract, Like charges repel,
Electric Charge and the Structure of Matter

• What actually happens to a matter when charged?

• Look closely to the structure and electric properties of matter, the building blocks of
ordinary matter of all kinds.
• The structure of atoms can be described in terms of three particles:
• The negatively charged, electron, the positively charged proton, and the uncharged
• The proton and neutrons in an atom make up a small, very dense core called the
Electric Charge and the Structure of Matter

• 2 very Important Principles:

• 1. The Principle of Conservation of Charge: The algebraic sum of all the electric
charges in any closed system is constant.
• When you rub together a plastic rod and a piece of fur, both initially uncharged, the rod acquires
a negative charge (since it takes electrons from the fur) and the fur acquires a positive charge of
the same magnitude (since it has lost as many electrons as the rod has gained).
• Hence, the total electric charge on the two bodies together does not change.
• In any charging process, charge is not created nor destroyed; it is merely transferred from one
body to another.
• 2. The magnitude of charge of the electron or proton is a natural unit of charge.
Conductors, Insulators and Induced Charges

• Conductors – permit the easy movement of charge through them

• Most metals are good conductor.
• Insulators – there are no, or very few, free electrons, and electric charge
cannot move freely through the material
• Most nonmetals are insulators.
• Induction – a technique in which a matter can give another body a charge of
opposite sign without losing any of its own charge.
Coulomb’s Law
• Coulomb's law states that the electrical force between two charged objects is
directly proportional to the product of the quantity of charge on the objects
and inversely proportional to the square of the separation distance between
the two objects.

•ℱ= 𝑟²
Force between Charges: Coulomb’s Law of
Electric Force
• ℱ= 𝑟²
• Where:
• ℱ is the electric force, directed on a line between the two charged bodies.
• 𝐾 is a constant of proportionality that relates the left side of the equation (Newtons) to
the right side (coulombs and meters).
• 𝑞0 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑞1 represent the amount of charge on each body, in units of Coulombs
• 𝑟 is the distance between the charged bodies
The Electric Constant, ε0, the permittivity of
free space
• It is the electric constant

• This value of ε makes,

• The dimension of K are: Newton-meter²/Coulomb²

Coulomb’s Law
• Charles Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806) studied the interaction forces of
charged particles in detail in 1784.
• For point charges, charged bodies that are very small in comparison with
the distance r between them, Coulomb found that electric force is
proportional to 𝑟2 . That is, when the distance r doubled, the force decreases
to 4 of its initial value; when the distance is halved, the force increases to
four times its initial value.
Coulomb’s Law
• The electric force between two point charges also depends on the quantity
of charge on each body, which we will denote by q or Q.
• He found that the forces that two point charges q1 and q2 exert on each
other are proportional to each charge and therefore are proportional to the
product q1q2 of the two charges.
Coulomb’s Law
• Therefore, the Coulomb’s Law states that:
• The magnitude of the electric force between two point charges is directly
proportional to the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the
square of the distance between them.
• In mathematical terms, the magnitude F of the force that each of two point charges q1
and q2 a distance r apart exerts on the other can be expressed as
𝒒𝟏 𝒒𝟐
• 𝑭=𝒌 𝒓𝟐
• Where k is a proportionality constant whose numerical value depends on the system of units
• The directions of the forces the two charges exert on each other are always
along the line joining them. When the charges q1 and q2 have the same sign,
either both positive or both negative, the forces are repulsive; when the
charges have opposite signs, the forces are attractive. The two forces are
always equal in magnitude and opposite in direction even when the charges
are not equal.
• Electric interactions depend on the electric charges and can be either
attractive or repulsive, while gravitational interactions depend on mass and
are always attractive (because there is no such thing as negative mass).
• The SI unit of electric charge is called one coulomb (1 C).
• In SI units, the constant k is
9 𝑁.𝑚2
• 𝑘 = 8.987551787 𝑥 10
• The constant k is approximately
• 𝑘 = 4𝜋𝜀

−12 𝐶2
• Where 𝜀0 = 8.854 𝑥 10 𝑁.𝑚2

• The most fundamental unit of charge is the magnitude of the charge of an

electron or a proton, which is denoted by e.
• 𝑒 = 1.602176462 63 𝑥 10−19 𝐶
Example #1
• An ∝ particle (“alpha”) is the nucleus of a helium atom. It has a mass 𝑚 =
6.64 𝑥 10−27 𝑘𝑔 and a charge 𝑞 = +2𝑒 = 3.2 𝑥 10−19 𝐶. Compare the
force of the electric repulsion between two ∝ particles with the force of
gravitational attraction between them.
Solution to Example #1
• Identify and Set Up:
1 𝑞2
• The magnitude 𝐹𝑒 of the electric force is given by 𝐹𝑒 = 4𝜋𝜀0 𝑟 2
• The magnitude 𝐹𝑔 of the gravitational force is given by 𝐹𝑔 = 𝐺 𝑚𝑟 2
• Execute:
𝐹𝑒 1 𝑞2 9.0 𝑥 109 (3.2 𝑥 10−19 𝐶)2
• 𝐹𝑔
4𝜋𝜀0 𝐺 𝑚2
=( 𝑁.𝑚2
(6.64 𝑥 10−27 𝑘𝑔)2
6.67 𝑥 10−11 2

• = 3.1 𝑥 1035
Superposition of Forces
• When two charges exert forces simultaneously on a third charge, the total
force acting on that charge is the vector sum of the forces that the two
charges would exert individually. This important property, called the
superposition of forces, holds for any collection of charges. By using this
principle, we can apply Coulomb’s Law to any collection of charges.
• note: Coulomb’s Law should be used only for point charges in a vacuum.
Example #2
• Two point charges, 𝑞1 = +25 𝑛𝐶 and 𝑞2 = −75 𝑛𝐶, are separated by a
distance of 3.0 𝑐𝑚. Find the magnitude and direction of
• A. the electric force that 𝑞1 exerts on 𝑞2;
• B. the electric force that 𝑞2 exerts on 𝑞1 .
Solution to Example #2
• Identify and Set Up:
• We use Coulomb’s Law to calculate the magnitude of the force that each particle exerts
on the other. The problem asks us for the force on each particle due to the other
particle, so we use Newton’s third law.
• Execute:
• A. Converting charge to coulombs and distance to meters, the magnitude of the force
that 𝑞1 exerts on 𝑞2 is
1 𝑞1 𝑞2 𝑁.𝑚 2 +25 𝑥 10−9 𝐶 −75 𝑥 10−9 𝐶
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 2 = = 9.0 𝑥 109 2 = 0.019 𝑁
4𝜋𝜀0 𝑟 2 𝐶 0.030 𝑚 2
• Execute:
• Since the two charges have opposite signs, the force is attractive; that is, the force that
acts on 𝑞2 is directed toward 𝑞1 along the line joining the two charges.
• B. Remember that Newton’s third law applies to the electric force. Even though the
charges have different magnitudes, the magnitude of the force that 𝑞2 exerts on 𝑞1 is
the same as the magnitude of the force that 𝑞1 exerts on 𝑞2:
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 2 = 0.019 𝑁
• The direction of the forces is exactly opposite to each other.
Example #3
• Two point charges are located on the positive x-axis of a coordinate system.
Charge 𝑞1 = 1.0 𝑛𝐶 is 2.0 cm from the origin, and charge 𝑞2 = −3.0 𝑛𝐶 is
4.0 cm from the origin. What is the total force exerted by these two charges
on a charge 𝑞3 = 5.0 𝑛𝐶 located at the origin? Gravitational forces are
Solution to Example #3
• Identify:
• There are two electric forces acting on the charge 𝑞3 and we must add these forces to
find the total force.
• Set Up:
• Our target variable is the net electric force exerted on charge 𝑞3 by the other two
charges. This is vector sum of the forces due to 𝑞1 and 𝑞2 individually.
• Execute:
1 𝑞1 𝑞3 2 1.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶 5.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶
9 𝑁.𝑚
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 3 = 4𝜋𝜀0 𝑟 2
= 9.0 𝑥 10 𝐶 2 0.020 𝑚 2

• = 1.12 𝑥 10−4 𝑁 = 112 𝜇𝑁

• This force has a negative x-component because 𝑞3 is repelled (that is, pushed in the
negative x-direction) by 𝑞1 .
• Execute:
1 𝑞2 𝑞3 9 𝑁.𝑚
2 3.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶 5.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶
• 𝐹2 𝑜𝑛 3 = 4𝜋𝜀0 𝑟 2
= 9.0 𝑥 10
𝐶2 0.040 𝑚 2
• = 8.4 𝑥 10−5 𝑁 = 84 𝜇𝑁
• This force has a positive x-component because 𝑞3 is attracted (that is, pulled in the
positive x-direction) by 𝑞2. The sum of the x-component is
• 𝐹𝑥 = −112 𝜇𝑁 + 84 𝜇𝑁 = −28 𝜇𝑁
• There are no y- or z-component. Thus the total force on 𝑞3 is directed to the left.
Example #4
• Two equal positive point charges 𝑞1 = 𝑞2 = 2.0 𝜇𝐶 interact with a third
point charge Q = 4.0 𝜇𝐶. Find the magnitude and direction of the total (net)
force on Q.
Solution to Example #4
Solution to Example #4
• From Coulomb’s law, the magnitude F of this force is
𝑁.𝑚2 4.0 𝑥 10−6 𝐶 2.0 𝑥 10−6 𝐶
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 𝑄 = 9.0 𝑥 109 𝐶2 0.50 𝑚 2
= 0.29 𝑁

• The angle ∝ is below the x – axis, so the components of this force are given by
0.40 𝑚
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 𝑄
= 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 𝑄 𝑐𝑜𝑠 ∝= 0.29 𝑁
0.50 𝑚
= 0.23 𝑁
0.30 𝑚
• 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 𝑄
= 𝐹1 𝑜𝑛 𝑄 𝑠𝑖𝑛 ∝= − 0.29 𝑁
0.50 𝑚
= −0.17 𝑁

• 𝐹𝑥 = 0.23 𝑁 + 0.23 𝑁 = 0.46 𝑁

• 𝐹𝑦 = −0.17 𝑁 + 0.17 𝑁 = 0
Electric Field and Electric Forces
• When two electrically charged particles in empty space interact, how does
each one know the other is there? What goes on in the space between them
to communicate the effect of each one to the other? We can begin to answer
these questions, and at the same time reformulate Coulomb’s Law in a very
useful way, by using the concept of electric field.
• The electric force on a charged body is exerted by the electric field created by
other charged bodies.
• 𝐸=𝑞 definition of electric field as electric force per unit charge

• Unit of force is 1 N and the unit of charge is 1 C, the unit of electric field
magnitude is 1 𝐶
• The charge 𝑞0 can either be positive or negative. If 𝑞0 is positive, the force
𝐹0 experienced by the charge is the same direction as 𝐸; if 𝑞0 is negative, 𝐹0
and 𝐹0 are in opposite direction.
• 𝐹𝑔 = 𝑚0𝑔
• The electric force experienced by a test charge 𝑞0 can vary from point to
point, so the electric field can also be different at different points. If a
charged body is large enough in size, the electric field 𝐸 may be noticeably
different in magnitude and direction at different points on the body, and
calculating the net electric force on the body can become rather complicated.
1 𝑞
• The magnitude of E of the electric field at P is 𝐸 = 4𝜋𝜖 𝑟2
Example #5
• What is the magnitude of the electric field at a field point 2.0 m from a point
charge 𝑞 = 4.0 𝑛𝐶? (The point charge could represent any small charged
objects with this value of q, provided the dimensions of the object are much
less than the distance from the object to the field point.)
Solution to Example #5
• Identtify and Set Up:
• We are given the magnitude of the charge and the distance from the object to the field
1 𝑞
point, so we use 𝐸 = to calculate the field magnitude E.
4𝜋𝜖0 𝑟 2

• Execute:
1 𝑞 9 𝑁.𝑚2 4.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶 𝑁
• 𝐸 = 4𝜋𝜖 𝑟2
= 9.0 𝑥 10
𝐶2 2.0 𝑚 2
= 9.0
• Evaluate:
• To check our result, we use the definition of electric field as the electric force per unit
charge. We can first use Coulomb’s law to find the magnitude 𝐹0 of the force on a test
charge 𝑞0 placed 2.0 m from q:
𝑞1 𝑞2 9 𝑁.𝑚2 4.0 𝑥 10−9 𝐶 𝑞0 𝑁
• 𝐹=𝑘 𝑟2
= 9.0 𝑥 10
𝐶2 2.0 𝑚 2
= 9.0
𝐹0 𝑁
• Then, 𝐸 = 𝑞0
= 9.0
Example #6
• A point charge 𝑞 = −8.0 𝑛𝐶 is located at the origin. Find the electric – field
vector at the field points 𝑥 = 1.2 𝑚, 𝑦 = −1.6 𝑚.
Solution to Example #6
• The distance from the charge at the source point S to the field point P is
• 𝑟 = 𝑥 2 + 𝑦2 = 1.2 𝑚 2 + −1.6 𝑚 2 = 2.0 𝑚
𝑟 𝑥 𝑖+𝑦 𝑗 1.2 𝑚 𝑖+ −1.6 𝑚 𝑗
• 𝑟=𝑟= 𝑟
2.0 𝑚
= 0.60𝑖 − 0.80𝑗

• Hence the electric field vector is

1 𝑞 𝑁.𝑚 2 −8.0 𝑥 10 −9 𝐶
• 𝐸 = 4𝜋𝜖 2
𝑟 = 9.0 𝑥 109 2
2.0 𝑚 2
0.60𝑖 − 0.80𝑗
0 𝑟 𝐶

• = −11 𝐶
𝑖 + 14
Electric Field Calculations
1 𝑞
• 𝐸 = 4𝜋𝜖 𝑟 gives the electric field caused by a single point charge. But in most
realistic situations that involve electric fields and forces, we encounter charge that is
distributed over space.
• 𝐹0 = 𝐹1 + 𝐹2 + 𝐹3 + ⋯ = 𝑞0 𝐸1 + 𝑞0 𝐸2 + 𝑞0 𝐸3 + ⋯
• 𝐸1 = 𝑞 = 𝐸1 + 𝐸2 + 𝐸3 + ⋯

• The total electric field at P is the vector sum of the fields at P due to each point
charge in the charge distribution. This is the principle of superpositiono
electric fields.