Study Material

Properties of Electric Charge

Properties of charge include additivity of charge, conservation of charge, quantization of charge, scalar quantity, and like charges repel and unlike charges attract.

3 minutes long
Posted by Mahak Jain, 1/12/2021
Properties of Electric Charge

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Electric charge is a fundamental quantity which we cannot define. We define other quantities using this fundamental quantity. Like mass is a fundamental quantity and you might not be aware of its definition. But we have a bad habit of defining everything. So, somehow or other we will define charge. Electric charge is a physical quantity that experience force when placed in electric field or magnetic field. There are two types of charges firstly, positive and other is negative. Just like other physical quantities there are some basic properties of electric charge. They are listed below.

Like Charges Repel and Unlike Charges Attract

Just like poles of magnet, like charges repel and unlike charges attract. Two positive charges kept together repel and same is the case with negative charges. They move away from each other. Whereas, a positive and a negative charge kept together attract and stick to each other.

Charge is a Scalar Quantity

Charge is a scalar quantity. It may be confusing because motion of charge produce current and end the charge have positive and negative signs also. But note that positive and negative signs do not represent direction but the positive and negative charge. And the direction of motion determines the direction of current

Additivity of Charge

Since, the charge is a scalar quantity, we can directly add it like any other scalar quantity. Let us say if there are charges Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 then the sum charge will be Q1 + Q2 + Q3 + Q4. This values will be put with their signs. For example if charges 1C, -2C, 3C, -4C are kept together, then the total charge is (1-2+3-4)C = -2C.

Conservation of Charge

One of the properties of electric charge is that it is conserved. You might be aware that there are many methods too charge a body. This may seem like charge gets produce and destroy. But this is not the fact. Bodies charge up due to transfer of electrons from one body to another. Thus, there is no creation or destruction of charge. Hence, just like energy the charge is conserved.

Quantization of Charge

Let us first understand the meaning of quantization. Quantization means available in fixed quantity. For example Parle-G biscuit is quantized because is is available in the quantity of 1, 2 or more packets. We cannot get 1.5 packets. Similarly, charges are available in the multiples of charge on an electron. This is because the charge is due to transfer of electrons. We can have only whole number of electrons and not the decimal number of electrons.

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