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Electric Charge


Electric charge is a fundamental quantity and is an intrinsic property of matter responsible for electric phenomena. The property of electric charge is associated with certain subatomic particles and experimental evidence leads to the conclusion that there are two types of charges, positive and negative.

In general all matter is made up of small particles called atoms, which are composed in part of negatively charged particles called electrons, positively charged particles called protons and particles called neutrons that have no electric charge and are slightly more massive than protons.

Electric Charge Definition

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Electric charge is a fundamental intrinsic property of a material. Electric charge is usually designated by by the letter q.
The symbol +q indicates that an object has an excess number of positive charges or fewer electrons than protons; -q indicates an excess of negative charges, or more electrons than protons. The quantity of charge q can be expressed in terms of the charge on one electron, which is 1.602 ×10-19 C.

Net Electric Charge

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Net electric charge means if like charges are present, add up the charges. If unlike charges are present, find the difference of that.

In the case of a molecule, if ions are present according to the sign of the ions net charge will be different.

Properties of Electric Charge

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Some of the important properties of electric charge is listed below:
  • The smallest unit of a charge is1.6x10-19 C
  • Total charge on a body is given by ±ne
  • Fractional charge cannot be possessed by a body
  • Total charge on an object is given as algebraic sum of the individual charges
  • If a body consists of equal positive and negative charges, it is said to be electrically neutral
  • Charges are in the form of a small packets, hence it is quantized

Unit of Electric Charge

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The unit of electric charge is the coulomb (C). The current through a specified area is defined by the electric charge passing through the area per unit of time. Thus, q is defined as the charge expressed in coulombs (C).

Conservation of Electric Charge

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Conservation of electric charge tell that, charge can neither be created or destroyed. In other words, the total charge of a separate system is constant. The conservation of charge is same as that of energy and mass conservation.

Electrostatic Charging

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Electrostatic charging is done using electrostatic conduction and induction.

1. By conduction
If a charged body is in contact with the other body which is not charged, the charge will flow from the charged body to the other one. The second body also get charged.

2. By induction
If a charged body is kept near an uncharged body, the opposite charge is developed in the second one due to induction. By using this principle we can charge the second body.

Electric Charge and Electric Field

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As mentioned above, electric charge is a conserved physical property of a matter. Electric field is nothing but the region at which the electric force is experienced. The force is generated by electric charge. So, we can say that electric charge and electric field are inter related.

Electric Field
Coulomb's law is an inverse square law which describes the relation between the electrostatic interaction and magnitude of the charges. It is defined as the repulsive or attractive force between two charges directly proportional to the product of the magnitude of the charges and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
F = $\frac{1}{4\pi \epsilon _{0}}$$\frac{q_{1}q_{2}}{r^{2}}$

q1 and q2 are the charges
r is the distance between them
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Static electricity is generated if there is an imbalance in electric charge in a material. This charge remains constant until an electric flow happens or an electric discharge happens in the circuit.
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