The International System of Units (SI) is a globally recognized system of measurement used in science, engineering, and everyday life. It provides a standardized way to quantify physical quantities, ensuring consistency and clarity in scientific communication. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore all the SI units relevant to physics, discussing their definitions, symbols, and applications.

Fundamental SI Units:

The SI system is built upon seven fundamental units, which are independent and cannot be derived from other units. These fundamental units are the building blocks of all other units in the system.

  1. Meter (m):
    • Definition: The meter is the fundamental unit of length in the SI system. It is defined as the distance that light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 seconds.
    • Symbol: m
    • Applications: Length, distance, displacement, wavelength in optics.
  2. Kilogram (kg):
    • Definition: The kilogram is the fundamental unit of mass. It is defined by the International Prototype of the Kilogram, a platinum-iridium cylinder stored in France.
    • Symbol: kg
    • Applications: Mass of objects, weight, inertia.
  3. Second (s):
    • Definition: The second is the fundamental unit of time. It is defined based on the vibrations of cesium atoms.
    • Symbol: s
    • Applications: Time intervals, period of oscillations, frequency.
  4. Ampere (A):
    • Definition: The ampere is the fundamental unit of electric current. It is defined based on the force between two parallel conductors carrying a current.
    • Symbol: A
    • Applications: Electric circuits, electromagnetism, electronics.
  5. Kelvin (K):
    • Definition: The kelvin is the fundamental unit of temperature. It is based on the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water.
    • Symbol: K
    • Applications: Thermodynamics, heat transfer, material properties at extreme temperatures.
  6. Mole (mol):
    • Definition: The mole is the fundamental unit of amount of substance. One mole contains the same number of entities (atoms, molecules, etc.) as there are atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12.
    • Symbol: mol
    • Applications: Chemical reactions, stoichiometry, Avogadro’s number.
  7. Candela (cd):
    • Definition: The candela is the fundamental unit of luminous intensity. It is defined based on the spectral radiance of a black body.
    • Symbol: cd
    • Applications: Measurement of light intensity, photometry.

Derived SI Units:

Derived SI units are formed by combining the fundamental units using mathematical operations or relationships. These units cover a wide range of physical quantities and are used extensively in physics and engineering.

  1. Hertz (Hz):
    • Definition: The hertz is the unit of frequency and represents one cycle per second.
    • Symbol: Hz
    • Derived From: Second (s)
    • Applications: Frequency of waves, oscillations, electromagnetic radiation.
  2. Newton (N):
    • Definition: The newton is the unit of force and represents the force required to accelerate a one-kilogram mass at one meter per second squared.
    • Symbol: N
    • Derived From: Kilogram (kg), meter (m), second (s)
    • Applications: Forces in mechanics, gravitational attraction, weight.
  3. Pascal (Pa):
    • Definition: The pascal is the unit of pressure and represents one newton per square meter.
    • Symbol: Pa
    • Derived From: Newton (N), meter (m)
    • Applications: Pressure in fluids, stress in materials, atmospheric pressure.
  4. Joule (J):
    • Definition: The joule is the unit of energy and represents the work done when a force of one newton is applied over a distance of one meter.
    • Symbol: J
    • Derived From: Newton (N), meter (m)
    • Applications: Energy, work, heat, mechanical work.
  5. Watt (W):
    • Definition: The watt is the unit of power and represents one joule of energy per second.
    • Symbol: W
    • Derived From: Joule (J), second (s)
    • Applications: Electrical power, mechanical power, radiant flux.
  6. Coulomb (C):
    • Definition: The coulomb is the unit of electric charge and represents the charge transferred by one ampere of current in one second.
    • Symbol: C
    • Derived From: Ampere (A), second (s)
    • Applications: Electric charge, electrical circuits, electromagnetic phenomena.
  7. Volt (V):
    • Definition: The volt is the unit of electric potential difference and represents one joule of energy per coulomb of charge.
    • Symbol: V
    • Derived From: Joule (J), coulomb (C)
    • Applications: Voltage, electrical potential, electric circuits.
  8. Ohm (Ω):
    • Definition: The ohm is the unit of electrical resistance and represents the resistance that allows one ampere of current to flow with a potential difference of one volt.
    • Symbol: Ω
    • Derived From: Volt (V), ampere (A)
    • Applications: Electrical resistance, Ohm’s law.
  9. Siemens (S):
    • Definition: The siemens is the unit of electrical conductance and represents the reciprocal of the ohm (1/Ω).
    • Symbol: S
    • Derived From: Ohm (Ω)
    • Applications: Electrical conductance, admittance.
  10. Farad (F):
    • Definition: The farad is the unit of electrical capacitance and represents one coulomb of charge per volt of potential difference.
    • Symbol: F
    • Derived From: Coulomb (C), volt (V)
    • Applications: Electrical capacitance, energy storage in capacitors.
  11. Weber (Wb):
    • Definition: The weber is the unit of magnetic flux and represents the magnetic flux that, when linked with a circuit, induces an electromotive force of one volt.
    • Symbol: Wb
    • Derived From: Volt (V), second (s)
    • Applications: Magnetic flux, electromagnetic induction.
  12. Tesla (T):
    • Definition: The tesla is the unit of magnetic field strength and represents one weber per square meter.
    • Symbol: T
    • Derived From: Weber (Wb), meter (m)^{-2}
    • Applications: Magnetic field strength, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  13. Henry (H):
    • Definition: The henry is the unit of inductance and represents one weber per ampere of current.
    • Symbol: H
    • Derived From: Weber (Wb), ampere (A)^{-1}
    • Applications: Electrical inductance, electrical circuits.
  14. Celsius (°C):
    • Definition: The degree Celsius is the unit of temperature on the Celsius scale, which is based on the freezing point (0°C) and boiling point (100°C) of water at standard atmospheric pressure.
    • Symbol: °C
    • Derived From: Kelvin (K)
    • Applications: Temperature measurement in daily life.

These derived SI units cover a wide range of physical quantities encountered in physics, engineering, and various scientific disciplines. They provide a standardized and internationally recognized system for expressing measurements, ensuring precision and consistency in scientific research and engineering applications.

Supplementary SI Units:

In addition to the fundamental and derived units, the SI system includes supplementary units that are used in specific scientific contexts. Some of these units include:

  • Radian (rad): The radian is the unit of angular measure and represents the angle subtended at the center of a circle by an arc equal in length to the circle’s radius.
  • Steradian (sr): The steradian is the unit of solid angle and represents the solid angle subtended at the center of a sphere by a portion of the sphere’s surface.
  • Becquerel (Bq): The becquerel is the unit of radioactivity and represents one decay per second.
  • Gray (Gy): The gray is the unit of absorbed dose of ionizing radiation.
  • Sievert (Sv): The sievert is the unit of equivalent dose and effective dose of ionizing radiation.
  • Lumen (lm): The lumen is the unit of luminous flux, which quantifies the amount of visible light emitted by a light source.

These supplementary units are essential in specialized fields such as optics, radiology, and nuclear physics.

Non-SI Units with Special Names:

While the SI system is the standard for scientific measurements, there are several non-SI units with special names that are still in use, particularly in specific fields or regions. Some examples include:

  • Angstrom (Å): A unit of length equal to 10^-10 meters, often used in spectroscopy and crystallography.
  • Bar (bar): A unit of pressure commonly used in meteorology and fluid dynamics.
  • Calorie (cal): A unit of energy often used in nutrition, equal to approximately 4.184 joules.
  • Electronvolt (eV): A unit of energy used in particle physics and atomic physics, equal to approximately 1.602 x 10^-19 joules.
  • Astronomical Unit (AU): A unit of distance used in astronomy, approximately equal to the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.
  • Parsec (pc): A unit of distance used in astronomy, approximately equal to 3.09 x 10^16 meters.

These non-SI units are important in their respective fields but are often accompanied by equivalent SI units for consistency in scientific literature.


The International System of Units (SI) provides a comprehensive framework for measuring physical quantities in physics and across various scientific and engineering disciplines. From fundamental units like the meter and kilogram to derived units like the newton and joule, the SI system ensures that measurements are standardized, precise, and internationally recognized. While non-SI units with special names are still in use, the SI system remains the primary system for scientific measurements, facilitating clear communication, reproducibility, and accuracy in scientific research and engineering applications. Understanding and using these SI units are fundamental for scientists, engineers, and anyone involved in the quantification and study of the physical world.

By Mayank

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *