Electricity and magnetism are definitely one of the most interesting topics you will come across in physics. Through this article, we will take you through the concepts of magnetism and electricity and the relationship between them. Moreover, we will also learn interesting concepts associated with them like electron movement, conductors, semiconductor and insulators, magnetic field, and more.
Introduction to Electricity And Magnetism
Electricity is basically the presence and motion of charged particles. On the other hand, magnetism refers to the force which the magnets exert when they attract or repel each other. Thus, we see how different they are from each other. After studying them in detail, we can understand them better.
What is Electricity?
We often describe electricity as being either static or dynamic. The difference between the two is based merely on whether the electrons are at rest (static) or in motion (dynamic). Static electricity refers to a build-up of an electrical charge on an object’s surface.
We refer to it as “static” because there is no current flowing as in AC or DC electricity. Static electricity usually occurs when non-conductive materials like rubber, plastic or glass are rubbed together, which causes a transfer of electrons.
Thus, it results in an imbalance of charges between the two materials. When there is an imbalance of charges between the two materials it will mean that the objects will show an attractive or repulsive force.
The valence of an atom defines its ability to gain or lose an electron. This eventually determines the chemical and electrical properties of the atom.
We can categorize these properties as being a conductor, semiconductor or insulator. It basically depends on the capacity of the material to generate free electrons.
When a material possesses a great number of free electrons available, a greater current can be conducted in the material.
Elements like gold, copper, and silver possess many free electrons and make good conductors. The atoms in these materials have a few loosely bound electrons in their outer orbits.
The energy in the form of heat will result in the electrons in the outer orbit to break loose and drift throughout the material. Copper and silver possess one electron in their outer orbits. Thus, at room temperature, a piece of silver wire will contain billions of free electrons.
These materials do not conduct electrical current very well or not at all. Glass, ceramic, and plastic are good examples of these. Under normal conditions, atoms in these materials do not create free electrons.
When there aren’t any free electrons then electrical current cannot be conducted through the material. The outer electrons will dislodge only when the material is in an extremely strong electrical field. We refer to this action as breakdown and it usually causes physical damage to the insulator.
This material falls in between the characteristics of conductors and insulators. In other words, they are not good at conducting or insulating. The most widely used semiconductor materials are Silicon and Germanium.
What is Magnetism?
Magnetism refers to the force which the magnets exert when they attract or repel each other. The motion of electric charges causes this to happen. Just like gravitational fields we cannot see or touch magnetic fields.
One can feel the pull of the Earth’s gravitational field on ourselves and the objects around us. However, we do not experience magnetic fields in such a direct way.
Difference between Electricity and Magnetism
There are many differences between electricity and magnetism. The major ones are:
The main difference between them is the presence of magnetism.
Electricity can be present in a static charge, while we can feel the presence of magnetism only when there are moving charges as a result of electricity.
All in all, electricity can exist without magnetism, however, magnetism cannot exist without electricity.
FAQ on Electricity And Magnetism
Question 1: What are semiconductors?
Answer 1: This material falls in between the characteristics of conductors and insulators. In other words, they are not good at conducting or insulating. The most widely used semiconductor materials are Silicon and Germanium.
Question 2: What is magnetism?
Answer 2: Magnetism refers to the force which the magnets exert when they attract or repel each other. The motion of electric charges causes this to happen. Just like gravitational fields we cannot see or touch magnetic fields.