Difference Between Electric Field and Magnetic Field

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Electric Field and Magnetic Field

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The repulsion and attraction of electric charges produce both electric and magnetic fields. The movement of electric charges around the magnetic force produces magnetic fields in lines. Magnetic fields are guided by lines. In most cases, stationary charges generate the electric field. Positive charges are brought closer together in this process, whereas negative charges are moved away from one other.

It is interesting to know the facts about such scientific topics in detail. So, let’s get started with understanding the differences between electric fields and magnetic fields.

Electric Field vs Magnetic Field

The primary distinction between electric and magnetic fields is that the electric field develops around a static charge particle, which can be positive or negative. However, the magnetic field is generated around the magnet's poles, which may be the south or north poles. Electric charges produce an electric field, whereas permanent magnets produce a magnetic field.

Difference Between Electric field and Magnetic field in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Electric Field Magnetic Field
The definition Around the electrically charged particle, there is a force. The area around a magnet in which the north and south poles display attraction or repulsion.
The nature Around the electric charges, it generates. Generates around the magnet's poles.
The symbol It is denoted by the symbol E. It is denoted by the symbol B.
The units Newton per coulomb. Tesla
The pole Monopole Dipole
The dimensions Two dimensional Three-dimensional.

What is an Electric field?

A physical field that envelopes electrically charged particles and imposes a force on all other charged particles in the field, either attracting or repelling them, is known as an electric field (also known as an E-field. It can also refer to a system of charged particles' physical field.   Electric fields are produced by electric charges or magnetic fields that change over time. The electromagnetic force, one of nature's four fundamental forces (or interactions), expresses itself in electric and magnetic fields.

Electric fields are vital in many areas of physics, and they are utilized in electrical technology every day. The electric field, for instance, is the attractive force or energy that holds the atomic nucleus and electrons together in atoms in atomic physics and chemistry. It is also the force or energy that causes chemical bonds between atoms to form molecules.

According to experts, the electric field is a vector field that connects every point in space with the (electrostatic or Coulomb) force per unit of charge placed on an infinitesimal positive test charge at rest. The electric field is measured in newtons per coulomb (N/C), which, according to research, is the same as volts per meter (V/m).

The electric field is defined as the force (per unit charge) that a vanishingly small positive test charge would experience if held at each location in space. Because an electric field is represented in terms of force, and force is a vector, it is even a vector field (i.e., it has both magnitude and direction).

According to experts, this is the basis for Coulomb's law, which states that the electric field changes with the source charge and inverse with the square of the distance from the source for stationary charges. This means that if the source charge doubled, the electric field would be double as well, and if you went twice as far away from the source, the field would only be one-quarter as strong.

Now, the electric field can be understood as a collection of lines with the same direction at each location as the field, an idea introduced by Michael Faraday, whose name 'lines of force' is still used occasionally. The strength of the field in this example is related to the density of the lines, which is an important attribute. The field lines are the pathways that a point positive charge would take if it were forced to travel within the field, analogous to the trajectories that masses would take if they were forced to move inside a gravitational field.

Moreover, Field lines originating from positive charges and terminating at negative charges have several essential qualities, including the fact that they always enter all good conductors at right angles and never cross or close in on themselves. The field lines symbolize an idea; the field truly pervades all of the space in between the lines. Depending on the level of precision required to depict the field, more or fewer lines may be created. Electrostatics is the study of electric fields formed by stationary charges.

Gauss' law describes electric charges, and Faraday's law of induction describes time-varying magnetic fields. These rules are sufficient to define the behavior of the electric field when taken together.

What is a Magnetic field?

Research states that A magnetic field is a vector field that explains the magnetic influence on moving electric charges, currents, and magnetic materials. In a magnetic field, a moving charge experiences a force that is perpendicular to both its velocity and the magnetic field.  Moreover, the magnetic field of a magnet that is permanent attracts/repels other magnetic materials., along with ferromagnetic elements like iron. Additionally, a varying magnetic field exerts a force on a variety of non-magnetic materials by altering the mobility of their outer atomic electrons. Furthermore, the Electric currents, such as those employed in electromagnets, and electric fields which vary in time create magnetic fields that surround magnetized objects.

The phrase "magnetic field" is used in electromagnetics to refer to two different but related vector fields indicated by the letters B and H. The Magnetic field strength is calculated in the SI base units of an ampere per meter (A/m) in the International System of Units. B, or magnetic flux density, is expressed in tesla (in SI base units: kilogram per second2 per ampere), which equals to newton per meter per ampere. According to researchers, Magnetization is handled differently by H and B.

Now, the Moving electric charges and the intrinsic magnetic moments of elementary particles associated with a fundamental quantum feature, their spin, form magnetic fields. The Magnetic and electric fields are intertwined and are both components of the electromagnetic force, which is one of nature's four fundamental forces.

Magnetic fields are utilized in almost every aspect of modern technology, especially in electrical engineering and electromechanics. Electric motors and generators both require rotating magnetic fields. Moreover, Magnetic circuits are utilized to model and explore the interaction of magnetic fields in electric devices, for instance, transformers. The Hall effect utilizes magnetic forces to reveal information about charge carriers in a substance. Furthermore, The Earth generates its magnetic field, which protects the ozone layer from the solar wind and is useful in compass navigation.

According to some experts and researchers, the force acting on an electric charge is determined by its position, speed, and direction, and is described by two vector fields. Now, the first is the electric field, which defines the force exerted on a static charge and describes the force component which is not influenced by motion. Secondly, the magnetic field, on the other side, relates to the force component that is proportional to both the speed and direction of charged particles. Furthermore, The Lorentz force law defines the field, which is perpendicular to both the charge's motion and the energy it experiences at any one time.

Interestingly, B and H are the two different but closely related vector fields that are commonly referred to as the "magnetic field." While there has been much dispute over the proper names for these fields and the exact interpretation of what these fields represent, there is widespread agreement on how the underlying physics work. Historically also, the term "magnetic field" was used to describe H while other terminologies were used to describe B, but also,  many newer textbooks use "magnetic field" to describe B alongside or instead of H.

Now, A set of magnetic field lines that follow the direction of the field at each place can be used to view the field. Measurement of the magnitude and direction of the force at a huge number of places can be used to create the lines (or at every point in space). Then, at each position, draw an arrow (called a vector) heading in the direction of the localized magnetic field, with the magnitude corresponding to the magnetic field's strength. A set of magnetic field lines is formed by connecting these arrows. The magnetic field at any given site runs parallel to neighboring field lines, and the local concentration of field lines can result supported by its strength.

Now, experts say that many rules of magnetism (and electromagnetism) may be described thoroughly and concisely using simple notions such as the "number" of field lines through a surface, which is an advantage of employing magnetic field lines as a representation. So, these ideas can be "translated" into mathematical form fast. Also, the surface integration of the magnetic field, for example, is the number of field lines passing across a particular surface.

Furthermore, the extensive research done by the scientists states that Magnetic field lines are "displayed" in various phenomena as if they were physical occurrences. In a magnetic field, for example, iron filings produce lines that correspond to "field lines." Moreover, the Magnetic field "lines" can also be seen in polar auroras, where plasma particle dipole interactions produce visible streaks of light that align with the Earth's magnetic field's local direction.

Now, the Magnetic forces can be visualized using field lines as a qualitative tool. Magnetic forces in ferromagnetic materials like iron and plasmas can be visualized as field lines exert tension (like a rubber band) along their length and a pressure perpendicular to its length on nearby field lines. Moreover, the magnets having "opposite" poles attract others because their field lines are linked by many field lines; magnets with "like" poles resist each other as their field lines don't intersect but run parallel, forcing each other.

Some Essential Details

Permanent magnets are items that generate magnetic fields that last for a long time. They are composed of magnetized ferromagnetic materials such as iron and nickel, and they have both a north and south pole.

Permanent magnets include a complicated magnetic field, especially near the magnet. A small straight magnet's magnetic field is proportional to its strength (called its magnetic dipole moment m). The equations are complex and depend on the distance from the magnet as well as the magnet's direction. For simple magnets, m denotes the direction of a line traced from the magnet's south pole to its north pole. A bar magnet's m is rotated 180 degrees when it is flipped.

Larger magnets' magnetic fields can be calculated by treating them as a collection of many small magnets called dipoles, each with its m. The net magnetic field of these dipoles produces the magnetic field produced by the magnet, and any net force on the magnet is the result of summing up the forces on the individual dipoles.

For the nature of these dipoles, there were two simplified models. H and B magnetic fields are produced by these two types. Outside of material, however, the two are equal (to a multiplicative constant), hence the distinction can sometimes be overlooked. This is especially true for magnetic fields that are not formed by magnetic materials, such as those caused by electric currents.

An actual model of magnetism is more intricate than either of these theories, and neither of them completely explains why materials are magnetic. There is no experimental support for the monopole concept. The magnetic moment of a substance is explained in part by Ampere's model, but not entirely. The mobility of electrons within an atom is linked to their orbital magnetic dipole moment, as predicted by Ampere's model. And these orbital moments contribute to the magnetism visible at the macroscopic level. However, electron motion is not classical, and the spin magnetic moment of electrons (which neither model can describe) contributes significantly to the total moment of magnets.

Main Differences Between Electric Field and Magnetic Field In Points

  • It's the force that surrounds a charged particle.
  • The zone around the magnetic poles exhibits an attraction or repulsion force.
  • An electrometer is used to measure it.
  • A magnetometer is used to measure it.
  • Its magnetic field is perpendicular to it.
  • It runs parallel to the electric field.
  • A closed-loop is not formed by electric field lines.
  • A closed loop is formed by the magnetic line


Thus, now we have gathered more than enough knowledge about electric fields and the magnetic field.


  • Electric field. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_field
  • Magnetic field. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_field


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"Difference Between Electric Field and Magnetic Field." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 17 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-electric-field-and-magnetic-field-478>.

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