# College Physics

Science and Technology## Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field

What is the mechanism by which one magnet exerts a force on another? The answer is related to the fact that all magnetism is caused by current, the flow of charge. *Magnetic fields exert forces on moving charges*, and so they exert forces on other magnets, all of which have moving charges.

# Right Hand Rule 1

The magnetic force on a moving charge is one of the most fundamental known. Magnetic force is as important as the electrostatic or Coulomb force. Yet the magnetic force is more complex, in both the number of factors that affects it and in its direction, than the relatively simple Coulomb force. The magnitude of the magnetic force $F$ on a charge $q$ moving at a speed $v$ in a magnetic field of strength $B$ is given by

where $\theta $ is the angle between the directions of $\mathbf{\text{v}}$ and $\mathbf{\text{B}}.$ This force is often called the Lorentz force. In fact, this is how we define the magnetic field strength $B$—in terms of the force on a charged particle moving in a magnetic field. The SI unit for magnetic field strength $B$ is called the tesla (T) after the eccentric but brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla (1856–1943). To determine how the tesla relates to other SI units, we solve $F=\text{qvB}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\theta $ for $B$.

Because $\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\theta $ is unitless, the tesla is

(note that C/s = A).

Another smaller unit, called the gauss (G), where $\mathrm{1\; G}={\text{10}}^{-4}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\mathrm{T}$, is sometimes used. The strongest permanent magnets have fields near 2 T; superconducting electromagnets may attain 10 T or more. The Earth’s magnetic field on its surface is only about $5\times {\text{10}}^{-5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\mathrm{T}$, or 0.5 G.

The *direction* of the magnetic force $\mathbf{\text{F}}$ is perpendicular to the plane formed by $\mathbf{\text{v}}$ and $\mathbf{\text{B}}$, as determined by the right hand rule 1 (or RHR-1), which is illustrated in [link]. RHR-1 states that, to determine the direction of the magnetic force on a positive moving charge, you point the thumb of the right hand in the direction of $\mathbf{\text{v}}$, the fingers in the direction of $\mathbf{\text{B}}$, and a perpendicular to the palm points in the direction of $\mathbf{\text{F}}$. One way to remember this is that there is one velocity, and so the thumb represents it. There are many field lines, and so the fingers represent them. The force is in the direction you would push with your palm. The force on a negative charge is in exactly the opposite direction to that on a positive charge.

With the exception of compasses, you seldom see or personally experience forces due to the Earth’s small magnetic field. To illustrate this, suppose that in a physics lab you rub a glass rod with silk, placing a 20-nC positive charge on it. Calculate the force on the rod due to the Earth’s magnetic field, if you throw it with a horizontal velocity of 10 m/s due west in a place where the Earth’s field is due north parallel to the ground. (The direction of the force is determined with right hand rule 1 as shown in [link].)

**Strategy**

We are given the charge, its velocity, and the magnetic field strength and direction. We can thus use the equation $F=\text{qvB}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\theta $ to find the force.

**Solution**

The magnetic force is

We see that $\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\theta =1$, since the angle between the velocity and the direction of the field is $\text{90\xba}$. Entering the other given quantities yields

**Discussion**

This force is completely negligible on any macroscopic object, consistent with experience. (It is calculated to only one digit, since the Earth’s field varies with location and is given to only one digit.) The Earth’s magnetic field, however, does produce very important effects, particularly on submicroscopic particles. Some of these are explored in Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications.

# Section Summary

- Magnetic fields exert a force on a moving charge
*q*, the magnitude of which is$F=\text{qvB}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{sin}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\theta ,$where $\theta $ is the angle between the directions of $v$ and $B$. - The SI unit for magnetic field strength $B$ is the tesla (T), which is related to other units by
$\mathrm{1\; T}=\frac{\text{1 N}}{\mathrm{C}\cdot \text{m/s}}=\frac{\text{1 N}}{\mathrm{A}\cdot \mathrm{m}}.$
- The
*direction*of the force on a moving charge is given by right hand rule 1 (RHR-1): Point the thumb of the right hand in the direction of $v$, the fingers in the direction of $B$, and a perpendicular to the palm points in the direction of $F$. - The force is perpendicular to the plane formed by $\mathbf{\text{v}}$ and $\mathbf{\text{B}}$. Since the force is zero if $\mathbf{\text{v}}$ is parallel to $\mathbf{\text{B}}$, charged particles often follow magnetic field lines rather than cross them.

# Conceptual Questions

If a charged particle moves in a straight line through some region of space, can you say that the magnetic field in that region is necessarily zero?

# Problems & Exercises

What is the direction of the magnetic force on a positive charge that moves as shown in each of the six cases shown in [link]?

(a) Left (West)

(b) Into the page

(c) Up (North)

(d) No force

(e) Right (East)

(f) Down (South)

Repeat [link] for a negative charge.

What is the direction of the velocity of a negative charge that experiences the magnetic force shown in each of the three cases in [link], assuming it moves perpendicular to $\mathbf{\text{B}}\mathrm{?}$

(a) East (right)

(b) Into page

(c) South (down)

Repeat [link] for a positive charge.

What is the direction of the magnetic field that produces the magnetic force on a positive charge as shown in each of the three cases in the figure below, assuming $\mathbf{\text{B}}$ is perpendicular to $\mathbf{\text{v}}$?

(a) Into page

(b) West (left)

(c) Out of page

Repeat [link] for a negative charge.

What is the maximum force on an aluminum rod with a $0\text{.}\text{100}\text{-\mu C}$ charge that you pass between the poles of a 1.50-T permanent magnet at a speed of 5.00 m/s? In what direction is the force?

$7\text{.}\text{50}\times {\text{10}}^{-7}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$ perpendicular to both the magnetic field lines and the velocity

(a) Aircraft sometimes acquire small static charges. Suppose a supersonic jet has a $0\text{.}\text{500}\text{-\mu C}$ charge and flies due west at a speed of 660 m/s over the Earth’s south magnetic pole, where the $8\text{.}\text{00}\times {\text{10}}^{-5}\text{-T}$ magnetic field points straight up. What are the direction and the magnitude of the magnetic force on the plane? (b) Discuss whether the value obtained in part (a) implies this is a significant or negligible effect.

(a) A cosmic ray proton moving toward the Earth at $\text{5.00}\times {\text{10}}^{7}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m/s}$ experiences a magnetic force of $1\text{.}\text{70}\times {\text{10}}^{-\text{16}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$. What is the strength of the magnetic field if there is a $\text{45\xba}$ angle between it and the proton’s velocity? (b) Is the value obtained in part (a) consistent with the known strength of the Earth’s magnetic field on its surface? Discuss.

(a) $3\text{.}\text{01}\times {\text{10}}^{-5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{T}$

(b) This is slightly less then the magnetic field strength of $5\times {\text{10}}^{-5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{T}$ at the surface of the Earth, so it is consistent.

An electron moving at $4\text{.}\text{00}\times {\text{10}}^{3}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m/s}$ in a 1.25-T magnetic field experiences a magnetic force of $1\text{.}\text{40}\times {\text{10}}^{-\text{16}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$. What angle does the velocity of the electron make with the magnetic field? There are two answers.

(a) A physicist performing a sensitive measurement wants to limit the magnetic force on a moving charge in her equipment to less than $1\text{.}\text{00}\times {\text{10}}^{-\text{12}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\mathrm{N}$. What is the greatest the charge can be if it moves at a maximum speed of 30.0 m/s in the Earth’s field? (b) Discuss whether it would be difficult to limit the charge to less than the value found in (a) by comparing it with typical static electricity and noting that static is often absent.

(a) $6\text{.}\text{67}\times {\text{10}}^{-\text{10}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{C}$ (taking the Earth’s field to be $5\text{.}\text{00}\times {\text{10}}^{-5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{T}$)

(b) Less than typical static, therefore difficult

- College Physics
- Preface
- Introduction: The Nature of Science and Physics
- Kinematics
- Introduction to One-Dimensional Kinematics
- Displacement
- Vectors, Scalars, and Coordinate Systems
- Time, Velocity, and Speed
- Acceleration
- Motion Equations for Constant Acceleration in One Dimension
- Problem-Solving Basics for One-Dimensional Kinematics
- Falling Objects
- Graphical Analysis of One-Dimensional Motion

- Two-Dimensional Kinematics
- Dynamics: Force and Newton's Laws of Motion
- Introduction to Dynamics: Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Development of Force Concept
- Newton’s First Law of Motion: Inertia
- Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Concept of a System
- Newton’s Third Law of Motion: Symmetry in Forces
- Normal, Tension, and Other Examples of Forces
- Problem-Solving Strategies
- Further Applications of Newton’s Laws of Motion
- Extended Topic: The Four Basic Forces—An Introduction

- Further Applications of Newton's Laws: Friction, Drag, and Elasticity
- Uniform Circular Motion and Gravitation
- Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
- Introduction to Work, Energy, and Energy Resources
- Work: The Scientific Definition
- Kinetic Energy and the Work-Energy Theorem
- Gravitational Potential Energy
- Conservative Forces and Potential Energy
- Nonconservative Forces
- Conservation of Energy
- Power
- Work, Energy, and Power in Humans
- World Energy Use

- Linear Momentum and Collisions
- Statics and Torque
- Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
- Introduction to Rotational Motion and Angular Momentum
- Angular Acceleration
- Kinematics of Rotational Motion
- Dynamics of Rotational Motion: Rotational Inertia
- Rotational Kinetic Energy: Work and Energy Revisited
- Angular Momentum and Its Conservation
- Collisions of Extended Bodies in Two Dimensions
- Gyroscopic Effects: Vector Aspects of Angular Momentum

- Fluid Statics
- Introduction to Fluid Statics
- What Is a Fluid?
- Density
- Pressure
- Variation of Pressure with Depth in a Fluid
- Pascal’s Principle
- Gauge Pressure, Absolute Pressure, and Pressure Measurement
- Archimedes’ Principle
- Cohesion and Adhesion in Liquids: Surface Tension and Capillary Action
- Pressures in the Body

- Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
- Introduction to Fluid Dynamics and Its Biological and Medical Applications
- Flow Rate and Its Relation to Velocity
- Bernoulli’s Equation
- The Most General Applications of Bernoulli’s Equation
- Viscosity and Laminar Flow; Poiseuille’s Law
- The Onset of Turbulence
- Motion of an Object in a Viscous Fluid
- Molecular Transport Phenomena: Diffusion, Osmosis, and Related Processes

- Temperature, Kinetic Theory, and the Gas Laws
- Heat and Heat Transfer Methods
- Thermodynamics
- Introduction to Thermodynamics
- The First Law of Thermodynamics
- The First Law of Thermodynamics and Some Simple Processes
- Introduction to the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat Engines and Their Efficiency
- Carnot’s Perfect Heat Engine: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Restated
- Applications of Thermodynamics: Heat Pumps and Refrigerators
- Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Disorder and the Unavailability of Energy
- Statistical Interpretation of Entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics: The Underlying Explanation

- Oscillatory Motion and Waves
- Introduction to Oscillatory Motion and Waves
- Hooke’s Law: Stress and Strain Revisited
- Period and Frequency in Oscillations
- Simple Harmonic Motion: A Special Periodic Motion
- The Simple Pendulum
- Energy and the Simple Harmonic Oscillator
- Uniform Circular Motion and Simple Harmonic Motion
- Damped Harmonic Motion
- Forced Oscillations and Resonance
- Waves
- Superposition and Interference
- Energy in Waves: Intensity

- Physics of Hearing
- Electric Charge and Electric Field
- Introduction to Electric Charge and Electric Field
- Static Electricity and Charge: Conservation of Charge
- Conductors and Insulators
- Coulomb’s Law
- Electric Field: Concept of a Field Revisited
- Electric Field Lines: Multiple Charges
- Electric Forces in Biology
- Conductors and Electric Fields in Static Equilibrium
- Applications of Electrostatics

- Electric Potential and Electric Field
- Introduction to Electric Potential and Electric Energy
- Electric Potential Energy: Potential Difference
- Electric Potential in a Uniform Electric Field
- Electrical Potential Due to a Point Charge
- Equipotential Lines
- Capacitors and Dielectrics
- Capacitors in Series and Parallel
- Energy Stored in Capacitors

- Electric Current, Resistance, and Ohm's Law
- Circuits, Bioelectricity, and DC Instruments
- Magnetism
- Introduction to Magnetism
- Magnets
- Ferromagnets and Electromagnets
- Magnetic Fields and Magnetic Field Lines
- Magnetic Field Strength: Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field
- Force on a Moving Charge in a Magnetic Field: Examples and Applications
- The Hall Effect
- Magnetic Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor
- Torque on a Current Loop: Motors and Meters
- Magnetic Fields Produced by Currents: Ampere’s Law
- Magnetic Force between Two Parallel Conductors
- More Applications of Magnetism

- Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits, and Electrical Technologies
- Introduction to Electromagnetic Induction, AC Circuits and Electrical Technologies
- Induced Emf and Magnetic Flux
- Faraday’s Law of Induction: Lenz’s Law
- Motional Emf
- Eddy Currents and Magnetic Damping
- Electric Generators
- Back Emf
- Transformers
- Electrical Safety: Systems and Devices
- Inductance
- RL Circuits
- Reactance, Inductive and Capacitive
- RLC Series AC Circuits

- Electromagnetic Waves
- Geometric Optics
- Vision and Optical Instruments
- Wave Optics
- Introduction to Wave Optics
- The Wave Aspect of Light: Interference
- Huygens's Principle: Diffraction
- Young’s Double Slit Experiment
- Multiple Slit Diffraction
- Single Slit Diffraction
- Limits of Resolution: The Rayleigh Criterion
- Thin Film Interference
- Polarization
- *Extended Topic* Microscopy Enhanced by the Wave Characteristics of Light

- Special Relativity
- Introduction to Quantum Physics
- Atomic Physics
- Introduction to Atomic Physics
- Discovery of the Atom
- Discovery of the Parts of the Atom: Electrons and Nuclei
- Bohr’s Theory of the Hydrogen Atom
- X Rays: Atomic Origins and Applications
- Applications of Atomic Excitations and De-Excitations
- The Wave Nature of Matter Causes Quantization
- Patterns in Spectra Reveal More Quantization
- Quantum Numbers and Rules
- The Pauli Exclusion Principle

- Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics
- Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics
- Particle Physics
- Frontiers of Physics
- Atomic Masses
- Selected Radioactive Isotopes
- Useful Information
- Glossary of Key Symbols and Notation