Coulomb's Law Charge

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Coulomb’s Law Calculator

What is Coulomb’s law?

Coulomb’s law is the basic and the most important law of electricity. The law gives the force of attraction that exists between two charged particles.

Coulomb’s law states that – “the force of attraction between two charges is directly proportional to the product of their charges and is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.”

The mathematical form of Coulomb’s law:

Consider two point charges q2 coulombs and q2 coulombs are at a distance of ‘r’ meters from each other, as shown in the figure. Then if ‘F’ is the force of attraction between them, then

F= kq1q2/r,
where k is called Coulomb constant and has a value of 9×109 N⋅m2⋅C−2


Points to note about Coulomb’s law

  • Coulomb’s law was proposed by Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, a French physicist and the Father of Electromagnetism.
  • Coulomb

  • Coulomb’s law gives the electrostatic force F that exists between two stationary located charged particles. The electrostatic force in measured in newtons.
  • The charged particles are assumed to be stationary, and Coulomb’s law does not hold good if charges are moving.
  • The charges are assumed to be in point shape or circular shape. If the charges are of other shapes – rectangular, triangular, or any other, you cannot use Coulomb law on them.
  • The charges are assumed to be at a measurable distance. That is, they should not be infinitely distanced, nor should they overlap with each other.
  • Unlike the gravitational force, which is always positive, Coulomb’s electrostatic force is either positive or negative. It depends on the charges.
  • If resultant electrostatic force is positive, it indicates a force of attraction between the charges, and vice versa.
  • Electric charges are measured in Coulombs. One coulomb is equal to the charge that is transported by one ampere of current in one second time.
  • Coulomb’s law can be derived from Gauss's law, which is another important law about electrostatics. Conversely, Gauss's law can be derived from Coulomb’s law too.
  • While the numerical form of Coulomb's law gives the magnitude of electrostatic force in newtons, the vector form of Coulomb’s law gives the direction of the force that exists between two charges.

Significance of Coulomb’s Law

Besides giving the force that exists between two stationary charges, Coulomb’s law has significance in quantum physics too. It talks about various types of forces that exist in an atom such as:

  • Electrical forces – between electrons and the nucleus of an atom.
  • Molecular forces – that keep atoms together in a molecule.
  • Forces that decide the state of matter such as liquids or solids.

In other words, most forces that we experience in our day to day life, that are not gravitational in nature, are electrical in nature and are governed by Coulomb’s law.

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