Physical Principles: Electrostatics
The essence of chemical interactions is electrical. Except for nuclear chemistry, all interactions between molecules are electronic in nature. Biophysical chemistry is built on the foundation of the physics of electricity. Electricity results from the separation of charge and is concerned with the behavior of charges—either at rest or in dynamic motion. The study of the behavior of charges at rest is called electrostatics. Electrodynamic phenomena occur when charges are in motion, and these are described by the laws of electromagnetics. The transport and behavior of charge in chemical systems is the basis of electrochemical studies. The type of charge carrier depends on the environment. In metal conductors charge is carried predominantly by electrons, whereas ions carry the majority of the charge in aqueous solutions. The study of interactions of ions with their environment is called ionics; the study of electron behavior in the solid state is electronics; and the study of charge transfer across an interface (an electrode) is the study of electrodics. We focus first on electrostatic behavior.
KeywordsPotential Energy Field Line Point Charge Electric Force Equipotential Surface
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