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# What did Millikan’s oil drop element reveal about the nature of electric charge?

Last updated date: 15th Jul 2024
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Hint: When the matter is put in an electromagnetic field, it acquires an electric charge, which causes it to undergo a force. Positive and negative charges are the two forms of electric charge (commonly carried by protons and electrons respectively)

Millikan's oil-drop experiment was the first direct and convincing calculation of a single electron's electric charge. The experiment was first carried out in $1909$ by American physicist Robert A. Millikan, who invented a simple method of calculating the minute electric charge present on many of the droplets in an oil mist. The product of the charge and the electric field equals the force on any electric charge in an electric field. Millikan was able to calculate the magnitude of the charge by measuring both the sum of electric force and the magnitude of the electric field on the tiny charge of an isolated oil droplet.
Note: They confirmed that the charges were all small integer multiples of a certain base value, which was found to be $1.5924\left( {17} \right) \times {10^{ - 19}}\;C$, about $0.6$ percent different from the currently accepted value of $1.602176634 \times {10^{ - 19}}\;C$, by repeating the experiment for many droplets.