HomeBasic ElectronicsWhat is electricity? Basic fundamentals of electricity.

What is electricity? Basic fundamentals of electricity.

As we live in nature we use electricity every time. We use electricity in our everyday life. We use electricity for making our lives better and also electricity is used in technology like our mobile phone, television, computers and soldering ion. We also observe electricity from nature, from the thunderstorm lighting we can observe the electricity. It is the very hard question what is electricity because we can not see it from our eyes. We only feel the electricity.

But in simple word electricity can be defined as the flow of the electric charge. So now the question is from where the charge comes? To get an answer about this question keep your reading continue on this page. Electricity is natural, that occurs throughout natures and takes so many different forms.

To get an answer about what is electricity we have to go beyond the matter and understand what is atom, energy, fields so you can get an idea about electricity. Now let’s understand the structure of the atom.

What is an Atom?

Atoms exist everywhere. Atoms have hundred of different forms we can find atom in chemical elements like carbon, copper, and oxygen. Many types of atoms combine to make molecules and molecules build matter, we can see and touch matter physically.

Atoms are so tiny we can stretch atoms at a max about 300 picometers. A small penny of copper is made up of 3.2×1022 atoms.

Building Blocks of  An Atoms

An atom is a combination of three particles named as electrons, protons, and neutrons. Centre of Atom called as nucules made up of protons and neutrons. And surrounding the nucules are a group of orbiting electrons.


As above figure, we can see the simple atom model. We can see that a core nucleus of protons and neutrons which is surrounded by orbiting electrons.

The number of protons is very important because the number of protons defines which chemical element the atom represents. So every atom must have one proton. Let’s take an example hydrogen has only one proton, copper made up of 29 protons and plutonium consist of 94 protons so a number of protons are very important. The count of a proton is called the atomic number.

Neutrons are very important for the determine the isotope of an atom. But they are not critical to our understanding of electricity.

Electrons are very important to understand the working of the electricity. Let take an example of a copper element which has 29 protons. As you can see in below picture nucleus of copper is made up of 29 protons which are surrounded by an equal number of electrons. This example follows the Bohr atom model.

Electrons on the outermost orbit are called as the valence electrons. Using enough outside force valence electron can fall into the orbit of the atom and will become free. Free Electrons can move charge and moving charge is called electricity.

What is Electric charge?

As we know electricity is the flow of electric charge. Electric charge is nothing but it is the property of matter we can measure how much charge it has, just like a mass. There are two types of charges are their one is a positive charge and second is a negative charge.

Charge carries can move the electric charge. Electrons are always carried negative charge while protons always carry positive charge and neutrons are neutral as per name they have no charge. Both electrons and protons can carry the same amount of charge.



What is the Electrostatic Force?

The force that operates between two charges is called as an Electrostatic force which is also called Coulomb’s law. This law state that same type of charges are repelled to each other, while opposite types of charges are attracted to each other. As shown in below figure opposites attract, likes repel.

The amount of electrostatic force depends on how far two charges are from each other. The two closer charges get more force than far charges.

The electrostatic force is responsible to push away other electrons and be attracted toward protons. This force holds atoms together and it is also responsible to make electrons flow.

What makes Charges to Flow?

As we all know that electrons carry a negative charge.If we free an electron from an atom and force it to move which results into electricity.

Let’s take the example of a copper atom. Copper has 29 protons in its nucleus and also have 29 electrons in outer orbit. Electrons near the nucleus feel a much stronger attraction than those in distant orbits. The outermost electrons of an atom are called the valence electrons which require some amount of force to be free from an atom.


Above diagram is of copper atom diagram. As we can see in the nucleus have 29 protons which are surrounded by the electrons. Electrons closer to the nucleus are hard to remove while the outer most electron can easily remove from an atom.

With the help of enough electrostatic force on the valence electron, we can push it with another negative charge or attracting it with a positive charge so we can eject the electron from around orbit and create a free electron.

Now let’s consider a copper wire which is filled with countless copper atoms. As per free electrons are floating in the space between atoms, it’s pulled and prodded by surrounding charges in that space this free electron finds new atom to latch on. So that electron ejects another valence electron from the atom. Now new electron is drifting through free space and find another atom to latch on. This chain effect creates a flow of electron which is called an electric current.

What is Conductivity?

Conductivity is the ratio of current density in the material to the electric field causes the flow of current. The conductivity of elements measures how tightly bound an electron is to an atom.

Elements with a higher number of free electrons are called conductors. This types of materials are used in wires. Copper, gold, and silvers are examples of conductors.

Elements with very less conductivity are called insulators. Insulators prevent the flow of electrons. Glass, rubber, plastic are an example of insulators.

What is Static Electricity?

Static electricity exists when the opposite charges are separated by an insulator. Static electricity is present until the two groups of opposite charges can find a path between each other.

When charge find a way between each other static discharge occurs. The attraction of this charges becomes so great that they can flow through even insulators like air, glass plastic, and rubber.static discharges can be harmful depending on which medium the charges are travel.

lightning is examples of static discharge. When we rub balloons on our head to make our hair stand up which is an example of static electricity.

What is Current Electricity?

Current electricity is a exists when charges constantly flow, which is exactly opposite to the static electricity. In order to flow current electricity closed looped require which is called a circuit. A circuit could be a simple conductive wire or it can be other components which control the flow of electricity.

What is Electric Field?

The electric field is a source to induce flow of electrons. Fields cannot be seen as they do not have any physical appearance but the effect they have is very real. We all are familiar with the earth’s gravitational field. Gravitational field can be a set of vectors pointing towards to the center of the planet, based on where you are on the surface you will feel the force pushing you towards it.

The intensity of the field is varied according to the place when you near the center of the planet you feel more intensity of the field rather than the far away from the center. Electric fields describe the pushing force in a space between charges.

The direction of the electric field is defined as the direction positive test charge would move. If you dropped positive test charge near negative charge it would be attracted towards the negative charge.so negative charge is represented by inward arrows and positive charge is represented by outward arrows due to the repulsion.

What is Electric Potential?

When we used electricity to power our circuits and gadgets we are really transforming energy. The electronic circuit can store energy and transfer it into other forms like heat, light or motion. The amount of stored energy is called electrical potential energy.

Energy is defined as the ability of an object or physical quantity to do work. Energy comes in different forms like chemical, mechanical, electrical. There are two types of energy static energy and potential energy. The Kinetic energy depends on the mass and speed of an object. Potential energy is stored energy.


Let’s take an example A bowling ball at the top of Khalifa tower has a potential energy. Once the ball is dropped it pulled by the gravitational field towards the ground. As ball moving towards the earth potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. when the ball reaches on the ground it has the very low amount of potential energy.

 What is a Short Circuit?

A short circuit is a loop of the circuit where current is flow continuously you can not stop this flow of charge without disconnecting the battery. Batteries are a common source of energy which converts chemical energy into the electrical energy. A battery has two terminals negative charge terminal and positive charge terminal.

When we connect the copper plate to the battery. The electric field is generated and electrons are pushed by the negative terminal of the battery and pull by the positive terminal of the battery. This creates the flow of the charge which is known as electricity.

As we shown in above figure there is no any other way to stop the flow of charge because here conducting copper plate is directly connected to the battery. This is a very bad thing because which cause the wire to melt or fire.

How to Illuminate a Light Bulb?

As per the above figure you see, there is only copper plate connected to the battery which results in destroying a battery. Now let’s see how to use this energy of battery to illuminate a light bulb. With the help of an electric circuit, electric energy is transfer into some other form like light, heat, motion. when we connect the light bulb with the help of wires.

As per shown in above schematic a battery is connected on the left side and blub is connected on the right side. When a circuit is closed means when a switch is on electrons flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal.

Electrons are move very fast through the circuit. When the switch is on and electrons are subjected to the electric field all electrons in the circuit start flowing so charges near the light bulb will take one step through the circuit and start transforming electrical energy into light energy. So when we switch on the light bulb is illuminated.

Must Read