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# Electrical Charge

An electron is the smallest particle that shows a negative charge. When an excess of electrons exist in a material, a net negative electric charge is present in that material. With a shortage of electrons, there is a net amount of positive electric charge.

## Coulomb’s Law

The charge of an electron and a proton is equal in magnitude and opposite in sign. An electron is negatively charged and a proton is positive. Electric charge is an electrical property of the substance that exists due to an excess or shortage of electrons. The charge is symbolized by Q and its unit is Coulomb (C).

Stationary electricity is the occurrence of a total positive or negative charge in a material. Everyone has had some experience with the effects of statistical electricity. For example, via an electric shock: when attempting to touch a metal surface or another person or when the clothing sticks together in a tumble dryer.

Materials with charges of opposite polarity attract each other. Materials of equal polarity repel each other. This attraction or repulsion force is represented. This force F arises from the presence of an electric field in the form of a number of invisible lines of force

The force F existing between two point source charges Q1 and Q2 is directly proportional to the product of the two charges e inversely proportional to the square of the distance r between these two charges. This is also known as Coulomb’s law.

## Positive and negative charge

In a neutral atom there are as many electrons as there are protons in the nucleus. This means that such an atom has no net charge. Any negative charge present equals the amount of positive charge making the total charge equal to zero Coulomb.

Imagine an atom where, by adding energy, an electron is pulled away. With this atom there is now one more positive charge present in the nucleus than there are negative charges moving around the nucleus. This atom now has a net charge equal to one Coulomb. Since there is now a net positive charge in this atom, we speak of a positive ion. A positive ion is defined as an atom (or group of atoms) with a net positive charge.

If we now assume that an atom acquires an extra electron in the outer shell, then there is now a net negative charge in the atom. This is because the extra electron provides one more negative charge unit. In this situation a negative ion is created. A negative ion is defined as an atom (or group of atoms) with a net negative charge.

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The amount of energy required to release a valence electron is related to the number of electrons in the outer shell. An atom can have up to eight valence electrons. The more complete the outer shell is, the more stable the atom and the more energy it takes to remove an electron from this atom.