Frictional force and centripetal acceleration are two fundamental concepts in physics that are closely related to each other, especially in the context of circular motion. This comprehensive guide will provide you with a detailed explanation of these concepts, including their technical specifications, formulas, examples, and numerical problems.
Frictional Force
Frictional force is the force that opposes the motion of two surfaces in contact. It is a contact force that acts parallel to the surfaces in contact. The magnitude of the frictional force depends on the normal force pressing the surfaces together and the coefficient of friction, which is a dimensionless quantity that depends on the nature of the surfaces in contact.
Formula for Frictional Force
The formula for the frictional force is:
Ff = μN
where:
– Ff
is the frictional force
– μ
is the coefficient of friction
– N
is the normal force
Types of Frictional Force
There are two main types of frictional force:
 Static Friction: This is the force that opposes the initial motion of an object. The maximum value of static friction is given by:
Fs,max = μsN
where μs
is the coefficient of static friction.
 Kinetic Friction: This is the force that opposes the motion of an object that is already in motion. The value of kinetic friction is given by:
Fk = μkN
where μk
is the coefficient of kinetic friction.
Factors Affecting Frictional Force
The frictional force is affected by several factors, including:
 Nature of the Surfaces: The rougher the surfaces, the higher the coefficient of friction and the greater the frictional force.
 Normal Force: The greater the normal force pressing the surfaces together, the greater the frictional force.
 Velocity: The frictional force is generally independent of the velocity of the object, except at very high velocities.
Examples of Frictional Force

Sliding a Book on a Table: Consider a book sliding on a table. The frictional force acting on the book is the kinetic friction, which is given by
Fk = μkN
, whereN
is the normal force (the weight of the book) andμk
is the coefficient of kinetic friction between the book and the table. 
Pushing a Crate: When pushing a crate across a floor, the frictional force is the force that opposes the motion of the crate. The frictional force is given by
Ff = μN
, whereN
is the normal force (the weight of the crate) andμ
is the coefficient of friction between the crate and the floor.
Centripetal Acceleration
Centripetal acceleration is the acceleration that an object experiences when it is moving in a circular path. It is always directed towards the center of the circular path and its magnitude is given by:
ac = v^2 / r
where:
– ac
is the centripetal acceleration
– v
is the velocity of the object
– r
is the radius of the circular path
Relationship between Centripetal Acceleration and Centripetal Force
The relationship between centripetal acceleration and centripetal force is given by Newton’s second law:
Fc = ma
where:
– Fc
is the centripetal force
– m
is the mass of the object
– a
is the centripetal acceleration
The formula for centripetal force is:
Fc = mv^2 / r
Examples of Centripetal Acceleration

Car Turning a Corner: When a car turns a corner, it experiences centripetal acceleration directed towards the center of the circular path. The centripetal force is provided by the friction between the tires and the road.

Satellite Orbiting the Earth: A satellite orbiting the Earth experiences centripetal acceleration directed towards the center of the Earth. The centripetal force is provided by the gravitational force between the satellite and the Earth.
Numerical Problem
Consider a car moving in a circular path of radius 50 meters with a speed of 25 m/s. Calculate the centripetal force acting on the car.
Solution:
Using the formula for centripetal force, we get:
Fc = mv^2 / r
Fc = (1000 kg)(25 m/s)^2 / 50 m
Fc = 12500 N
Therefore, the centripetal force acting on the car is 12500 N.
Theoretical Explanation
The concept of frictional force is crucial in understanding how objects move on surfaces. When an object is in motion, there is always a force that opposes its motion, known as friction. Friction arises due to the interaction between the molecules of the two surfaces in contact. The force of friction depends on the nature of the surfaces in contact, the normal force pressing the surfaces together, and the velocity of the object.
Centripetal acceleration, on the other hand, is the acceleration that an object experiences when it is moving in a circular path. It is always directed towards the center of the circular path and its magnitude is given by v^2 / r
, where v
is the velocity of the object and r
is the radius of the circular path. The force responsible for this acceleration is known as the centripetal force, which is always directed towards the center of the circular path.
Handson Details
To understand the concepts of frictional force and centripetal acceleration, it is essential to perform experiments and gather data. For instance, one can use a Vernier Centripetal Force Apparatus (CFA) to study the relationship between centripetal force and the radius of the circular path. The CFA allows students to easily and accurately see the relationship between the centripetal force and the radius of the circular path.
By measuring the tension in the string attached to the CFA, students can calculate the centripetal force acting on the mass. By varying the radius of the circular path, students can gather data on the relationship between centripetal force and the radius of the circular path.
Reference:
 Engineering Physics chapter 06 ch0610e.pptx – SlideShare
 Physics Exam 2 Chapter 4 and 5 Flashcards  Quizlet
 Centripetal Acceleration with Friction: physics challenge problem
 Centripetal Force Apparatus – Vernier CZ
 Centripetal Force – Physics LibreTexts
Hi…I am Ankita Biswas. I have done my B.Sc in physics Honours and my M.Sc in Electronics. Currently, I am working as a Physics teacher in a Higher Secondary School. I am very enthusiastic about the highenergy physics field. I love to write complicated physics concepts in understandable and simple words.