The force of interaction of two stationary point charges in vacuum is directly proportional to the product of these charges and inversely proportional to the square of their separation,
where F is in newton, q1 and q2 in coulomb, r in metre and k is a constant given in SI units by
= 9 ´ 109 N m2 C-2
where Î0 = 8.85 ´ 10-12 C2 N-1 m-2 and is called the permittivity of free space (vacuum or air).
For mediums other than air or vacuum, the electrostatic force between two charges becomes
Here Î = Î0 Îr, is called the absolute permittivity or permittivity of the medium, and Îr (= Î/Î0) is the relative permittivity of the medium which is a dimensionless constant. Îr is also sometimes called dielectric constant, and is represented by letter K.
Coulomb's law is analogous to Newton's law of gravitation :
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