This article does not cite any sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Statcoulomb" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (December 2009) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
Unit systemGaussian, CGS-ESU
Unit ofelectrical charge
SymbolFr, statC, esu
1 Fr in ...... is equal to ...
   CGS base units   1 cm3/2⋅g1/2⋅s−1
   SI (charge)   ≘ ~3.33564×10−10 C
   SI (flux)   ≘ ~2.65×10−11 C

The franklin (Fr), statcoulomb (statC), or electrostatic unit of charge (esu) is the unit of measurement for electrical charge used in the centimetre–gram–second electrostatic units variant (CGS-ESU) and Gaussian systems of units. It is a derived unit given by

1 statC = 1 dyn1/2⋅cm = 1 cm3/2⋅g1/2⋅s−1.

That is, it is defined so that the CGS-ESU quantity that corresponds to the Coulomb constant is a dimensionless quantity equal to 1.

It can be converted to the corresponding SI quantity using

1 newton = 105 dyne
1 cm = 10−2 m

In the International System of Units uses the coulomb (C) as its unit of electric charge. The conversion between the units coulomb and the statcoulomb depends on the context. The most common contexts are[a]:

The symbol "≘" ('corresponds to') is used instead of "=" because the two sides are not interchangeable, as discussed below. The number 2997924580 is very close to 10 times the numeric value of the speed of light when expressed in the unit metre/second. In the context of electric flux, the SI and CGS units for an electric displacement field (D) are related by:

1 C/m2 ≘ ~4π × 2997924580×10−4 statC/cm23.77×106 statC/cm2
⇒ 1 statC/cm2 ≘ ~2.65×10−7 C/m2

due to the relation between the metre and the centimetre. The coulomb is an extremely large charge rarely encountered in electrostatics, while the statcoulomb is closer to everyday charges.

Definition and relation to CGS base units

The statcoulomb is defined such that if two stationary spherically symmetric objects each carry a charge of 1 statC and are 1 cm apart, the force of mutual electrical repulsion will be 1 dyne. This repulsion is governed by Coulomb's law, which in the CGS-Gaussian system states:

where F is the force, qG
and qG
are the two charges, and r is the distance between the charges. Performing dimensional analysis on Coulomb's law, the dimension of electrical charge in CGS must be [mass]1/2 [length]3/2 [time]−1. (This statement is not true in the International System of Quantities upon which the SI is based; see below.) We can be more specific in light of the definition above: Substituting F = 1 dyn, qG
= qG
= 1 statC, and r = 1 cm, we get:

1 statC = g1/2⋅cm3/2⋅s−1

as expected.

Dimensional relation between statcoulomb and coulomb

This section may contain material not related to the topic of the article and should be moved to Gaussian units#Major differences between Gaussian and SI units instead. Please help improve this section or discuss this issue on the talk page. (February 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

General incompatibility

Coulomb's law in the Gaussian unit system and the SI are respectively:


Since ε0, the vacuum permittivity, is not dimensionless, the coulomb is not dimensionally equivalent to [mass]1/2 [length]3/2 [time]−1, unlike the statcoulomb. In fact, it is impossible to express the coulomb in terms of mass, length, and time alone.

Consequently, a conversion equation like "1 C = n statC" is misleading: the units on the two sides are not consistent. One cannot freely switch between coulombs and statcoulombs within a formula or equation, as one would freely switch between centimetres and metres. One can, however, find a correspondence between coulombs and statcoulombs in different contexts. As described below, "1 C corresponds to 3.00×109 statC" when describing the charge of objects. In other words, if a physical object has a charge of 1 C, it also has a charge of 3.00×109 statC. Likewise, "1 C corresponds to 3.77×1010 statC" when describing an electric displacement field flux.

As a unit of charge

The statcoulomb is defined as follows: If two stationary objects each carry a charge of 1 statC and are 1 cm apart in vacuum, they will electrically repel each other with a force of 1 dyne. From this definition, it is straightforward to find an equivalent charge in coulombs. Using the SI equation


and setting F = 1 dyn = 10−5 N and r = 1 cm = 10−2 m, and then solving for q = qSI
= qSI
, the result is

Therefore, an object with a CGS charge of 1 statC has a charge of approximately 3.34×10−10 C.

As a unit of electric displacement field or flux

An electric flux (specifically, a flux of the electric displacement field D) has units of charge: statC in CGS and coulombs in SI. The conversion factor can be derived from Gauss's law:

Therefore, the conversion factor for flux and the conversion factor for charge differ by a ratio of 4π:


  1. ^ As of the 2019 redefinition of the SI base units, the correspondence given is not exact, although it is very close.