Defining an Electric Field (Edexcel A Level Physics)

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Defining an Electric Field

  • An electric field is defined as a region of space in which a charged particle experiences a force
    • Hence, electric fields are a type of force field
  • The charged particle could be stationary or moving, and will experience an electric force in that field
  • All charged particles create their own electric fields
    • These fields exert an electrostatic force, FE on other charged particles

Coulombs Law diagram, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

The electrostatic force between two charges

  • Like charges (positive and positive, or negative and negative) repel each other
    • This means the force on each charge are away from the other charge
  • Opposite charged (positive and negative) attract each other
    • This means the force on each charge is towards the other charge
  • The size of the force changes with distance

Electric Force and Distance

A repulsive force decreases with distance

Exam Tip

Electric fields are slightly different in that a charged particle will experience a force in this field whether it's stationary or moving. Don't get this mixed up with a magnetic field, where a charged particle only experiences a force if it's moving.

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Katie M

Author: Katie M

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.