What is the Nature of Electricity?

Electricity is form of energy that is obtained from other form of energy such as chemical energy, nuclear energy, heat energy, solar energy, etc. available in the nature. Electricity is the phenomenon associated with the existence and motion of the electric charge in the matter. This article is meant for explaining the nature of electricity. But before that we will understand the concept of electricity and is existence.

The Concept of Electricity

Electricity, also referred to as electrical energy, is a form of energy which is usually obtained from other forms of energy present in the nature. Electricity is a physical phenomenon related to the presence and movement of electric charges.

Electricity is associated with various common phenomena such as magnetism, lightning, static electricity, current electricity, electric discharge, electric heating, etc.

Electricity is mainly due to the existence of electric charge. The electric is the property of subatomic particles such as electrons and protons. The charge on electrons is negative, while the charge on protons is positive. An electric charge has a field around it, in which other charges experiences a force of attraction or repulsion. This field is called the electric field. An electric charge at rest, i.e. while does not moving produces only an electric field. On the other hand, a charge in motion produces both electric field and magnetic field.

The Structure of Matter

Electricity is the backbone of modern industrial society as it is being used in versatile applications such as powering equipment, driving motors, lightning, magnetism, etc. In order to understand the concept of electricity, it is important to understand the structure of matters.

From elementary physics, we know that every matter in this universe is made up of very small particles called molecules. The molecule represents all the identities of the matter. Each molecule is in turn made up of tiny particles called atoms. An atom is the most elementary piece of a substance that can exist in the nature.

Based on the types of atoms in a molecule of a substance, the substance can be divided into two classes namely elements and compounds. A substance is called an element if its molecule consists of same kinds of atoms, whereas a substance whose molecule consists of different types of atoms is called a compound.

Now, we will discuss the basic structure of atom and behavior of charged subatomic particles (electrons and protons) to understand the concept of electricity and its nature.

The Structure of an Atom

As we discussed above that atoms are the basic building blocks of the materials. Thus, an atom is responsible for defining the characteristics of a matter. An atom consists of two parts namely nucleus and extra-nucleus.

The nucleus is the central part of the atom, while the extra-nucleus is the space around the nucleus within the molecule of the material. The nucleus of an atom contains two subatomic particles namely protons and neutrons.

A proton is a positively charged particle, whereas the neutron is a particle having no charge, i.e. neutral. These two particles, protons and neutrons, are strongly bounded within the nucleus of the atom by the nuclear forces, and thus cannot be easily removed from the atom. On the other hand, the extra-nucleus has a number of electrons revolving around the nucleus in a definite path called orbit.

An electron is a negatively charged sub-atomic particle. Since, the electrons are present external to the nucleus within the atom, and are less strongly bound to the nucleus. As a result, they can be easily removed from the atom by suppling a sufficient amount of energy to them.

From this discussion about the structure of atom, we can observe that electrons are free to move within the body of the material. Hence, we can say the electrons are entirely responsible for the flow of electric current. However, protons also exhibit the electrical behavior, but electrons are responsible for all practical electrical phenomena.

Now, with the understanding of atomic structure, we are able to comment about the nature of electricity.

Nature of Electricity

The following three statements explain the nature of electricity that the materials present in the nature have −

  • When the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom of a material are equal to the number of electrons in the atom, then the positive charge and negative charge balance each other. Consequently, there is no net electric charge on the material. In this case, the material said to be electrically neutral. Thus, it does not exhibit electricity.

  • When the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom of a material are less than the number of electrons in the atom, then there is an excess of negative charge in the material. As a result, the material exhibit negative electricity, i.e. the electric field lines tend to enter into the material.

  • When the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom of a material are greater than the number of electrons in the atom. Under this condition, the material exhibit positive electricity, i.e. the field lines tend to emerge out from the material.

Also, we may state the nature of electricity in context to the movement of electric charge (electrons) as −

  • When the electric charges or electrons in a material remain stationary, i.e. remain accumulated on the surface of material. Then, it is called static electricity. The static electricity produces electric fields only, and it does not exhibit magnetism.

  • When the electric charges are in motion, they cause an electric current to flow through the material. Thus, it is called current electricity. The current electricity produces both electric field and magnetic field.


In this article, we explained in detail the concept of electricity and the nature of electricity. Electricity is a very common form of energy. Electricity is the result of electrically charged subatomic particle present in all materials in the nature.

The nature of electricity is described based on the properties of electric charge. If the electricity is the result of stationary charges, then it is called static electricity. On the other hand, if the electricity is due to motion of charges, then it is called current electricity.

Another point about the nature of electricity is that the electricity can flow only through the conducting materials like silver, copper, aluminium, etc.