Electricity and Magnetism

Electricity and magnetism are one of the most interesting topics in physics. In this article, we will learn about the concepts of magnetism and electricity and the relationship between them. We shall also learn the magnetism and electricity definition, interesting concepts like electron movement, conductors, semiconductors and insulators, and magnetic field.

Table of Contents:

What Is Electricity?

Electricity is the presence and motion of charged particles. How does energy travel through copper wire and through space? What is electric current, electromotive force, and what makes a landing light turn on or a hydraulic pump motor run? Each of these questions requires an understanding of many basic principles. By adding one basic idea on top of other basic ideas, it becomes possible to answer most of the interesting and practical questions about electricity or electronics. Our understanding of electric current must begin with the nature of matter. All matter is composed of molecules. All molecules are made up of atoms, which are themselves made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Electricity and Magnetism
Electricity is often described as being either static or dynamic. The difference between the two is based simply on whether the electrons are at rest (static) or in motion (dynamic). Static electricity is a build up of an electrical charge on the surface of an object. It is considered “static” due to the fact that there is no current flowing as in AC or DC electricity. Static electricity is usually caused when non-conductive materials such as rubber, plastic or glass are rubbed together, causing a transfer of electrons, which then results in an imbalance of charges between the two materials. The fact that there is an imbalance of charges between the two materials means that the objects will exhibit an attractive or repulsive force.

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Electron Movement

The valence of an atom determines its ability to gain or lose an electron, which ultimately determines the chemical and electrical properties of the atom. These properties can be categorized as being a conductor, semiconductor or insulator, depending on the ability of the material to produce free electrons. When a material has a large number of free electrons available, a greater current can be conducted in the material.


Elements such as 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. Energy in the form of heat can cause these electrons in the outer orbit to break loose and drift throughout the material. Copper and silver have one electron in their outer orbits. At room temperature, a piece of silver wire will have billions of free electrons.


These are materials that do not conduct electrical current very well or not at all. Good examples of these are glass, ceramic, and plastic. Under normal conditions, atoms in these materials do not produce free electrons. The absence of the free electrons means that electrical current cannot be conducted through the material. Only when the material is in an extremely strong electrical field will the outer electrons be dislodged. This action is called breakdown and usually causes physical damage to the insulator.


This material falls in between the characteristics of conductors and insulators, in that they are not good at conducting or insulating. Silicon and germanium are the most widely used semiconductor materials.

What Is Magnetism?

Electricity and Magnetism

Magnetism is a concept introduced in physics to help you understand one of the fundamental interactions in nature, the interaction between moving charges. Like the gravitational force and the electrostatic force, the magnetic force is an interaction at a distance.

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Moving Charges and Magnetism Questions

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What Is a Magnetic Field?

Magnetic fields, like gravitational fields, cannot be seen or touched. We can feel the pull of the Earth’s gravitational field on ourselves and the objects around us, but we do not experience magnetic fields in such a direct way. We know of the existence of magnetic fields by their effect on objects such as magnetized pieces of metal, naturally magnetic rocks such as lodestone, or temporary magnets such as copper coils that carry an electrical current. If we place a magnetized needle on a cork in a bucket of water, it will slowly align itself with the local magnetic field. Turning on the current in a copper wire can make a nearby compass needle jump. Observations like these led to the development of the concept of magnetic fields.
Related Physics Concepts
Magnetic Effect Of Electric Current Magnetic Field Of Earth – Earth’s Magnetism
Electromagnetism Current Electricity

Difference Between Electricity and Magnetism

  • The major difference between electricity and magnetism is their presence.
  • Electricity can be present in a static charge, while magnetism’s presence is only felt when there are moving charges as a result of electricity.
  • In simple words, electricity can exist without magnetism, but magnetism cannot exist without electricity.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What are the types of electricity?

There are basically two types of electricity, Static electricity and Current electricity


What are the sources of electricity?

The various sources of electricity are solar energy, fossil fuels, nuclear power, wind energy and hydroelectric power.


What is the unit of the magnetic field?

Magnetic field is denoted by B and H. The SI unit of H is amperes per meter and the SI unit of B is Newtons per meter per ampere or Teslas.


What is the basic law of magnetism?

The basic law of magnetism is that the unlike poles attract and like poles repel.


What is electromagnetism?

Electromagnetism is associated with electric charges and magnetic fields.


What is Faraday’s law of electromagnetism?

Faraday’s law of electromagnetism explains how magnetic field and electric charge interact to produce EMF (electromotive force).

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Hope you understand magnetism and electricity definition, properties, electron movement, conductors, semiconductors, insulators, and magnetic field. To learn more interesting physics topics with the help of engaging and interactive video lessons, keep visiting BYJU’S.

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  1. I think this lesson is very important for physics

  2. i like the note but please make it by video

  3. Nice app for learning

  4. This is very useful for me.