Electric potential


Charged corpuscle exert forces on each other. The electrical field E= F/q developed by a charged bit at some place r in an are is a measure of the pressure F the bit exerts ~ above a test fee q, if we place the test fee at r. The electrical field E is avector. The electric field because of a charge circulation is the vector amount of the fields created by the charges consisting of the distribution. Once we think around electricity in daily life, we rarely think about the electric fields. We are much more familiar with the concepts of voltage, current, and also power.

How is the voltage concerned the electric field?

When a fragment with fee q is inserted in one external electrical field E, (i.e. An electric field developed by other charges), then an electrical force F= qE will certainly act on it. If this force is not well balanced by other forces, then the fragment will accelerate, and its kinetic energy will change. The electrical force will execute positive job-related on the particle. If the electrical force is balanced by one more external pressure Fext = -qE, and if this external force moves the particle against the electric force, 보다 the exterior force Fext does confident work.


The occupational W done on things by a constant force is identified as W = Fd = F d cosθ. Right here F is the magnitude of the force, d is the magnitude of the displacement vector, and θ is the angle between the directions of the force and also displacement vectors.

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The occupational done through a varying force in one measurement is defined as W = ΣxixfFx∆x, together ∆x becomes infinitesimallysmall. In three dimensions we create W = Σ F∙∆r = ΣxixfFx∆x + Σyiyf Fy∆y + ΣzizfFz∆z.

Therefore the work done excellent by an outside force balancing the electrical force is

W = Σ Fext∙∆r = -q Σ E∙∆r.

In the sums we constantly assume the the displacements end up being infinitesimally small.

The work-related done by the exterior force Fext = -qE is same to the readjust in theelectrostatic potential energy of the bit in the exterior field. The readjust in the potential power of a fee q once being moved from suggest A to point B, is the job-related done by Fext in relocating the charge.

∆U = UB - UA = -q ΣABE∙∆r.

The sum is taken along a specific path. Yet the electrostatic pressure is a conservative force. The job-related is elevation of the path. ∆U because of this depends just on the endpoints A and also B of the path, not on the actual route itself.

Module 2: inquiry 1


(a) Which needs zero work, to move a positive allude charge from suggest P to point 1, 2, 3, or 4? all those points space the exact same distance native P.(b) Which requires the most positive job-related done through an exterior force, to move a positive suggest charge from allude P to allude 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Discuss this v your other students in the discussion forum!Review the principle of occupational in juniorg8.comics.Discuss the relationship in between the job-related done by and against the electrical field and the electrostatic potential energy.

The change in potential energy is proportional come the fee q. That is sign relies on even if it is the charge is hopeful or negative. We specify thepotential difference orvoltage ∆V as the potential energy distinction divided by the charge, or the potential energy distinction per unit (positive) charge. The potential difference is the potential energy difference of a small, positive test charge, split by the charge. As in the situation of gravity, the zero the the potential energy and therefore the zero the the potential room not unique defined. Just potential power differences and potential distinctions are unique. The SI unit of energy is J, therefore the SI unit of potential is J/C. We defineVolt together V = J/C.

The electrostatic potential is a scalar, no a vector.

We say that a charge distribution, i beg your pardon produces an electric field, also produces an electrical potential. The electrostatic potential developed by a finite charge circulation is, through convention, set to zero at infinity. Then the potential V(r) the the circulation is the occupational done per unit charge in pass a small test charge from infinity to place r. Because that a charge distributions which expand to infinity, we cannot collection the zero that the potential in ~ infinity, since then the potential would be boundless everywhere, and it would certainly be a useless concept. Us then set the zero at some convenient recommendation point, yet we always must point out the reference suggest along with the potential, due to the fact that there is no distinct convention. For plenty of applications we pick the ground to it is in the zero of the potential.

The potential difference between the two terminals of an A, B, C, or D cabinet battery is 1.5 V. For every Coulomb of an adverse charge that is moved from the hopeful to the an unfavorable terminal, 1.5 J of work need to be done against electric forces, and 1.5 J of part other type of energy is converted into electrostatic energy. Once the terminals are associated by a wire, climate the fee is cost-free to move inside the wire, and also the electric field does work on the charge. This work have the right to now be reconverted into some other type of energy.

The potential at a allude r the a positive allude charge located at the origin is the job-related that should be done per unit charge in happen a test charge from infinity to r.V(r) = -Σ∞r E∙∆r = ΣrE∙∆r .We can lug the test charge along an arbitrarily path, which we can think of as being comprised of infinitesimal little steps, either in the radial direction or perpendicular to the radial direction. We perform not need to do work when we step perpendicular to the radial direction, since then E is perpendicular come ∆r. Along the radial direction E∙r = E∆r, because E and also r clues both suggest outward. The sum becomes

V(r) = q/(4πε0r) = keq/r.

This expression likewise gives the potential early out to any spherically symmetric charge distribution outside the distribution.

The potential outside a spherically symmetric charge distribution with complete charge q is the same as the of a suggest charge q, V(r) = keq/r. It is is proportional come the inverse of the distance from the allude charge.

To discover the potential as result of a arsenal of charges, we usage the principle of superposition and include the potentials as result of the individual charges. Due to the fact that the potential is a scalar, and not a vector, us just have actually to include numbers. To discover the complete electrostatic potential energy of a collection of point charges, sum over every pairs.


The charges in the teams A and B listed below are all offered in systems of Q. Which group of charges took much less work by an outside force to carry together native infinity?


Reasoning:For case A:We have only one pair the charges.W = ke 2Q*Q/d = 2 keQ2/d.For case B:We have 3 bag of charges.Bring the two lower charges together: W = ke Q2/d.Bring the optimal charge:Do work against the force exerted by the two reduced chargesW = ke Q2/d + ke Q2/d = 2 ke Q2/d.Total Work: W = 3 keQ2/d = sum over all pairs.Group A took much less work by an exterior force to carry together native infinity than team B.


1 electron volt (eV) = 1.6*10-19 J. 1 eV is the adjust in potential energy of a fragment with fee qe = 1.6*10-9 C once the readjust in potential is 1 Volt (V). The unit was defined so that when you know the voltage between two points in space, you recognize the change in potential power of an primary school particle as soon as it moves from one come the various other point. (The authorize of the readjust in potential energy depends ~ above the sign of the charge.) once a totally free proton moves v a potential difference of 1 V its kinetic power decreases by -qV = (1.6*10-19 C)*(1 J/C) = -1.6*10-19 J = -1 eV. As soon as a cost-free electron moves with the same potential distinction of 1 V the kinetic energy increases by -qV = -(-1.6*10-19 C)*(1 J/C) = 1.6*10-19 J = 1 eV.


Assume that the potential difference between the optimistic and an unfavorable plate is 100 V. A proton travel from the hopeful to the an adverse plate. What wake up to the proton"s kinetic energy?


Reasoning:The electrostatic force is a conservative force. ∆KE + ∆U = 0.(change in kinetic power + change in potential energy = 0.)Details the the calculation:The proton speeds up towards the an adverse plate. That is potential power decreases by 100 eV.Its kinetic power increases by 1.6*10-17 J = 100 eV.

Equipotential lines

Just together we explained the electrical field roughly a charged thing by field lines, we can likewise describe the electric potential pictorially withequipotential surfaces (contour plots). Every surface corresponds to a various fixed value of the potential. Equipotential lines are lines connecting points of the same potential. Lock often appear on field line diagrams.

Equipotential currently are constantly perpendicular to ar lines.

Equipotential currently are thus perpendicular come the pressure experienced by a charge in the field. If a fee moves follow me an equipotential line, no occupational is done. If a fee moves between equipotential lines, work is done.


Field lines and also equipotential lines because that a positive point charge are shown in the figure. This is a 2-dimensional representation, a reduced through the 3-d surfaces.Please likewise explore this 3-dimensional depiction below. Please click the image!



In the Bohr model of the hydrogen atom, the electron orbits the proton at a distance of r = 5.29*10-11 m. The proton has charge +qe and the electron has actually charge -qe, where qe = 1.6*10-19 C. Exactly how much work have to be done to completely separate the electron and the proton


Reasoning:The force on the electron is the Coulomb force between the proton and also the electron. It pulls the electron in the direction of the proton. Because that the electron to move in a one orbit, the Coulomb force must equal the centripetal force. We need keqe2/r2 = mv2/r.Details of the calculation:mv2 = keqe2/r, therefore the kinetic energy of the electron is KE(r) = ½mv2 = ½keqe2/r. The potential energy of the electron in the ar of the hopeful proton allude charge is U(r) = -qeV(r) = - keqe2/r. The complete energy is the sum of the electron"s kinetic energy and also its potential energy.KE(r) + PE(r) = -½keqe2/r = (-½) (9*109)(1.60*10-19) /(5.29*10-11) J = -2.18*10-18 J. This is usually proclaimed in energy units the electron volts (eV). 1 eV = 1.60*10-19 J.-2.18*10-18 J * 1eV/(1.60*10-19 J) = -13.6 eV.To eliminate the electron from the atom, i.e. To relocate it an extremely far away and also give that zero kinetic energy, 13.6 eV of work should be excellent by an external force. 13.6 eV is the ionization power of hydrogen. Problem:

An alpha particle containing 2 protons is shot straight towards a platinum cell core containing 78 proton from a very large distance through a kinetic energy of 1.7*10-12 J. What will be the street of closestly approach?


Reasoning:The electric charge the the alpha fragment is q1 = 2qe and also that the the platinum nucleus is q2 = 78 qe. The alpha particle and the cell nucleus repel every other. Together the alpha fragment moves in the direction of the nucleus, several of its kinetic energy will be converted right into electrostatic potential energy. In ~ the distance of closest approach, the alpha particle"s velocity is zero, and also all its early stage kinetic energy has to be converted into electrostatic potential energy.Details of the calculation:The early stage kinetic energy of the alpha particle is KE = 1.7*10-12 J.The last potential power is U = kq1q2/d, whereby d is the street of closestly approach. We have actually keq1q2/d = 1.7*10-12J. This yieldsd = keq1q2/(1.7*10-12J) = (9*109*2*78*(1.6*10-19)2/(1.7*10-12)) m = 2.1*10-14 m for the distance of closestly approach. The alpha particle"s velocity is zero at d.The acceleration is in a direction far from the nucleus. The distance between the alpha particle and also the cell core will rise again, converting the potential energy back into kinetic energy.Problem:

An evacuated tube offers a voltage of 5 kV to accelerate electron from rest to struggle a phosphor screen.(a) exactly how much kinetic power does each electron gain?(b) What is the rate of an electron as soon as it hits the copper plate?


Reasoning:1 eV is the change in potential power of a bit with charge qe = 1.6*10-9 C when the readjust in potential is 1 Volt (V). Details that the calculation:(a) each electron loses 5 keV of potential energy and also gains 5 keV = (5000 eV)(1.6*10-19 J/eV) = 8*10-16 J that kinetic energy.(b) E = ½mev2. V2 = 2E/me = (2*8*10-16 J)/(9.1*10-31 kg) = 1.75*1015 (m/s)2.v = 4.2*107 m/s. This is much more than 1/10 the rate of light.

The electrostatic potential V is related to the electrostatic ar E. If the electric field E is known, the electrostatic potential V can be acquired using V(r) = -Σ∞rE∙r.

How deserve to we acquire the ar from the potential?


Consider the two points P1 and also P2 presented in number above. Assume the they space separated by an infinitesimal distance ∆L. The readjust in the electrostatic potential in between P1 and P2 is given by ∆V = -E∙∆L = -E ∆L cosθ.Here θ is the angle in between the direction that the electric field and also the direction of the displacement vector ∆L. We have the right to rewrite this equation together ∆V/∆L = -E cosθ = -EL.EL shows the ingredient of the electric field along the direction that ∆L. If the direction that the displacement is favored to coincide through the x-axis, this becomes∆V/∆x = -Ex.For the displacements follow me the y-axis and z-axis we achieve ∆V/∆y = -Ey and ∆V/∆z = -Ez.The complete electric ar E deserve to be acquired from the electrostatic potential V by combine these 3 equations. We say the E is the negative gradientof the potential V.

In many electrostatic problems the electric field as result of a details charge distribution must be evaluated. The calculation of the electric field deserve to be brought out using two various methods:

The electric field can be calculated by applying Coulomb"s law and also vector addition of the contributions from every charges in the charge distribution.The total electrostatic potential V have the right to be obtained from the algebraic sum of the potential due to all dues that make up the charge distribution, and also the ar can be uncovered by calculating the gradient the V.

In many instances the second method is simpler, because the calculation of the electrostatic potential entails an algebraic sum, when the direct calculation the the field entails a vector sum.


The potential difference between the 2 plates the the capacitor shown listed below is 12 V. Equipotential surfaces are shown. If the separation in between the bowl is 1 mm, what is the stamin of the electrical field between the plates?Solution:

Reasoning:Let the y-axis allude upward. V just varies v y. ∆V/∆x = ∆V/∆z = 0. E = Ey j = -∆V/∆y j.Details the the calculation:Let the y-axis suggest upward. The ar is uniform and also points in the an adverse y-direction. ∆V/∆y = -Ey = (12 V)/(10-3 m). Ey = -12000 V/m.The strength of the electrical field between the plates is E = 12000 V/m = 12000 N/C.Problem:

The graph ~ above the right shows a edge map that the equipotential surfaces because of 3 point charges. Calculation the magnitude and direction the the electrical field at suggest P.

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Reasoning:Point ns lies in between two equipotential surfaces. The surface above P is in ~ 40 V and the surface listed below is in ~ 20 V. The electric field points away from the positive charge, from higher to reduced potential. It points downward at P.Given the distance scale, I calculation the perpendicular distance in between the 40 V and 20 V equipontential surfaces near suggest P to be ~2.5 cm.Details of the calculation:|E| = ∆V/∆y = 20 V/ 2.5*10-2 m = 800 V/m.The magnitude on of the electric field at allude P is ~800 V/m and it point out downward.

If you miss out on having continual lectures, think about this video clip lecture

Lecture 4: Electrostatic Potential, electric Energy, eV, Conservative Field, Equipotential surface