Magnetic Field vs Electric Field: Detailed Explanations

The terms magnetic field and electric field are very familiar to us as both of them describe the force of exertion on the particle.

Both magnetic and electric fields are inter-depending on one another, giving us an electromagnetic field. Though the existence of electric and magnetic fields is concerned with the charges, both of them exhibit different characteristics. In this post, we have given a brief insight into comparing magnetic field vs electric field.

Magnetic fieldElectric field
DefinitionThe magnetic field is defined as “The force exerted on the region around the magnet carrying moving charged particles.”The electric field is defined as “The force exerted on the charged particles.”
Nature of existenceThe magnetic field is created due to the motion of the charged particles around the magnet.The electric field is generated due to the electric charges.
UnitThe unit of the magnetic field is Gauss or Tesla.The unit of the electric field is “Newton per Coulomb” or “Volts per meter.”
The instrument used for measuringThe existence of a magnetic field around the magnet is measured by using an instrument called a Magnetometer.The existence of an electric field in a region is measured using an instrument called an Electrometer.
DependencyThe existence of a magnetic field around any magnet or any region depends on the speed of the charges.The existence of an electric field depends only on the number of electric charges present in that region.
Propagation directionConsidering the electromagnetic wave as a reference, the magnetic field is always perpendicular to the direction of the electric fieldThe electric field is also propagated perpendicular to the magnetic field.
Dimension of existenceThe magnetic field exists in three-dimensional space.The electric field exists only in two-dimensional space.
PoleMagnets have two poles named the south and north poles; thus, only dipoles are possible, and it is impossible to achieve a magnetic monopole.An electric field exists in monopoles as well as dipoles as it consists of charged particles named positive charges and negative charges.
LoopThe magnetic field consists of field lines that make the closed loop between the two poles.The electric field consists of only straight lines, thus closed loop is not possible.
Force of attraction and repulsionThe magnetic field of like poles repels each other while unlike poles attract each other.Same as magnetic fields, the electric field of like charges repels and unlike charges attracts.
Work DoneThe magnetic field cannot do work. When any object or particle enters the area which influenced by the magnetic field, the velocity and the direction of the particle remain unaffected. So we can say that the work done by the magnetic field on the particle is always zero.As soon as any particle enters the electric field, the work is done on the particle by the field by varying its velocity and changing the direction.
Comparative table of magnetic field vs electric field
File:Electric and Magnetic Field of Wire Cross-Section.svg , magnetic field vs electric field
Magnetic field vs electric field. Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Magnetic field lines vs electric field lines

Both magnetic fields and electric fields possess field lines. Field lines are the imaginary lines that specify where there is an effective influence of force on the charges. The influence of force on electric and magnetic fields is quite different; thus, this section lets us learn a comparison between magnetic field lines and electric field lines.

magnetic Field LinesElectric Field Lines
OriginMagnetic field lines generate from two poles of the magnets, starting from the north pole and ending at the south pole.Electric field lines induce the positive charges, and the negative charges are extinguished.
Nature of chargesMagnetic field lines exist only if the test charges are under motion in the magnetic field.Electric field lines exist even if the test charges are stationary. It does not depend on the motion of the test charges.
Existence of loopThe magnetic field line makes a closed loop around the two poles of the magnets.The electric field lines do not involve in the close loop as the test charges possess only a straight path.
NatureMagnetic field lines are parallel and never intersect with one another.Electric field lines are also parallel and are uniformly spaced, and also do not intersect.
Flow directionThe flow direction of the magnetic field lines does not depend on the potential difference; they always flow from the north to the south pole.The electric field lines always flow from regions with high potential to low potential.
Comparative table of magnetic field lines vs electric field lines
magnetic field vs electric field
Image of magnetic field lines vs electric field lines

Magnetic field lines vs magnetic lines of force

The magnetic field lines and the magnetic lines of force are fictitious entities that do not have any physical origin. In some contexts, it can be said that both magnetic field lines and magnetic lines of force are the same because they both specify the strength and the direction of the magnetic field around a magnet.

File:VFPt flat magnets gap.svg
Magnetic lines of force. Image credits: Wikimedia commons

Some points to be remembered

  • Both magnetic field and electric field are vector quantities as both of them are associated with magnitude and direction.
  • The magnitude of the magnetic field is proportional to the current carrying through the circular loop, while the number of field lines leaving the positive charge and entering the negative charge defines the proportionality between the electric field and the magnitude of the charge.
  • The electric field can be a monopole but not the magnetic field; the electric field can be induced either by positive or negative charges, but the magnetic field exists only due to both north and south poles.
  • The intensity of the magnetic field depends on the number of magnetic field lines produced around the magnet.
  • The magnetic field is denoted by the letter B; it is given by the formula,
  • B = ϕ/A; where ϕ is the magnetic force around the loop, and A is the area of the cross-section of the magnet.
  • The electric field is denoted by the symbol E, expressed by the formula, E=F/C; where F is the electric force and C is the point charge.
  • The tangent line at any point on the electric field describes the direction of the point charge, and also it represents the path of the positive test charge, which is free to move.

Read more on Magnetic field vs magnetic field strength

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