An electrically charged particle is a particle that has a positive or negative charge. Electrically charged particles are associated with the electromagnetic force, which is one of the four fundamental forces of nature. The electromagnetic force is responsible for the attraction and repulsion between electrically charged particles, as well as for the propagation of light and other electromagnetic radiation.
- All electrically charged particles interact with each other through the electromagnetic force. The strength of the interaction depends on the magnitude of the charges and the distance between the particles.
- Two types of electrically charged particles are associated with the electromagnetic force: elementary particles and composite particles.
- Elementary particles: These particles are not made up of sub-particles. They are the fundamental building blocks of matter. Electrons, photons, and neutrinos are all elementary particles.
- Composite particles: These particles are made up of sub-particles. Protons and neutrons are composite particles. They are made up of quarks, which are also elementary particles.
- All particles, except for those with no charge, have a positive or negative charge.
- Particles with opposite charges (+ and -) are attracted towards one another by the electric force.
- Particles with the same charge (+ and +, or – and -) are repelled away from one another by the electric force.
- The charge of a particle is a property that is intrinsic to the particle. It cannot be created, destroyed, or changed.
- Within atoms:
- Electrons (elementary particles) have a negative charge of -1. Electrons are responsible for the negative charge of atoms. They are found in the outermost shell of atoms.
- Protons (composite particles) have a positive charge of +1. They are found in the nucleus of atoms, along with neutrons. Protons are responsible for the positive charge of atoms.
- Neutrons (composite particles) have no charge. They are found in the nucleus of atoms, along with protons. Neutrons are responsible for the mass of atoms. Neutrons can decay into protons and electrons, which means that they can acquire a charge.
- Atoms are electrically neutral, meaning that they have an equal number of protons and electrons. The protons have a positive charge, the electrons have a negative charge and neutrons have no charge. The negative charge of the electrons cancels out the positive charge of the protons.
- There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, atoms of some elements can lose or gain electrons, which can make them electrically charged. These atoms are called ions.