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Chapter 21

Electric Field

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Objectives
Can we calculate E and F for a continuous
charge distribution?
Or
Can we modify Coulombs law for point
charges to be used with continuous charge
distribution?

Fall 2010/11

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21.5 Electric Field Calculations

Many Point Charges (already saw this before)


Continuous charge Distribution
Motion of Charged objects in Uniform Electric
Fields - Applications

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21.5 Continuous Charge Distribution:

Imagine a charge q is made up from a million


electrons (i.e. q = 1.6 x 10-13 C)
I can put all million es at 1 point, and hence
giving a point charge, or spread these million
electrons into a larger space, but each
electron is very close to another, and hence we
have a continuous charge distribution
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Continuous Charge Distribution:


Uniform or Variable

Distribute total charge Q over a line, e.g. thin


object of length L
Two options:
either same dQ per every dL uniform
density, or
most of Q in small part of L and rest is
empty of Q nonuniform density
dq/d(space) = constant or Not
Space: 1-, 2-, or 3-dimensional; i.e. length,
area
(surface), orBashar
volume
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Charge Density

Line charge density: l = dq/dx = constant = Q/L


(uniform charge distribution) or

l(x) is a function of distance (variable) - lambda

Units:

Surface charge density: s = dq/dA = constant =


Q/A or s(A) = s(x,y) variable - sigma
Units:

Volume charge density: r = dq/dV = constant =


Q/V or r(V) = r(x,y,z) - variable rho
Units:
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Continuous Line Charge Distribution:


Uniform or Variable
Uniform charge
+++++++++++++++++++
distribution:
dq/dL = constant
Nonuniform:
dq/dL = Not
constant
Nonuniform:
dq/dL=
exponential

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+ ++++++++++
+ + ++

++++ + + + + + + + +
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+
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Example: Uniform Line Density l(x)


+++++++++++++++++++

Ex. 1: Given l(x)=constant = 0.37 nC/cm, what is the


total charge in a length of 2.8 cm?

Ex. 2: If the total charge in a length of 3.5 cm is

16.0 mC distributed uniformly, what is the line


charge density l(x)?

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Example: Uniform Surface Density s(x,y)

1.2 cm

Ex. 1: Given s(x,y)=constant = 0.45 nC/cm2, what is


the total charge in an area of 1.2 cm by 0.75 cm?
+

+
+
+

+
+
+

+
+
+

+
+
+

0.75 cm

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Examples: Direction of Field: from


vector to scalar
Calculate E at position P
due to uniform line
charge distribution.

Q, uniform l, l

i.e. given Q, uniform l, l,


as shown, What is E?

Direction is known for the whole distribution


(i.e. it is the same for all elements DE)
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Electric Field of a Continuous Charge


Distribution

Charge Distribution or Point Charges:

If distances between charges are smaller than r from group of


charges to point P, then system of charges is continuous

E from continuous q distribution:

Divide q into many small Dq (i.e. regard Dq as a point


charge)
Use Coulomb formula of point q to calculate elemental E
(i.e. DE) at P for one element Dq vector formula
Total Electric field = E = sum of elemental Es = sum all
DEs= DEi for all i (i.e. all elements)
Careful: vector summation, i.e. direction may change:
use symmetry if you can
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Steps for calculating E


1.

Choose dq

2.

Relate dq to element of space i.e. dq = l dl

3.

4.
5.
6.

Apply Coulombs law to dq


Check if formula applies to all elements
Check direction: known! i.e. symmetry
Integrate E = dE (Hope scalar not vector! If
5 above applies)
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Pen & Board

Q, uniform l, l

Symmetry is Very Important to Simplify Integration


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Symmetry is Very Important


to Simplify Integration14
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Symmetry is Very Important


to Simplify Integration15
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Example 9: Direction of Field


Charge Q is uniformly distributed around a conducting ring of
radius (Fig. 21.23). Find the electric field at a point P on the
ring axis at a distance from its center.

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Examples: Direction of Field

Use of Symmetry:

Each dE has 2 components one along x and the other normal


to x.
Components along x add up together but those normal cancel
each other.
Resultant is along x.
dE = Ke dq/r2 Note r is same for all elements
dEx = dE cosq for all components q is constant
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Examples: Continuous Surface Charge


Two infinite plane sheets with uniform surface charge densities
+s and s are placed parallel to each other with separation d
(Fig. 21.26). Find the electric field between the sheets, above the
upper sheet, and below the lower sheet.

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Continuous Charge Distribution:


rs a or rs < a

Notice distance r from each point charge dq


(millions of them) to point x varies significantly
|r| and angle are not constant for all dqs
a
r
X

Continuous charge
distribution: many point
charges close together
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P
Point P where EF is to
be calculated

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Point Charge : r >> a

Most rs are close to each other in magnitude


Angles from dqs to P are similar
easy integration

Size of object a << r

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21.6 Electric Field Lines

Electric Field Lines (EFLs)

Concept
Diagrams
Importance and how to use them

Motion of Charged Particles in Uniform E Field

Definition of Uniform Field


Numerical Examples: Particles Acceleration GP1
Devices

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21.6 Electric Field Lines (EFLs):


Description & Properties

Curved imaginary lines parallel to electric field


vectors at any point in space (i.e. E is tangent
to E.F.L.)
Number of lines passing normally
(perpendicularly) through unit area is
proportional to magnitude (strength) of E

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21.6 (EFLs): Description & Properties

Lines begin at +ve and terminate at ve charges


Number of lines is proportional to magnitude of
charge (N |q| or N = C |q| where C is
proportionality constant)
No 2 field lines can cross. Why!

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21.6 Electric Field Lines: Examples

Number of lines is proportional to |charge|


+2q
+

-q
-

Quick Quiz 23.7 Rank


magnitude of electric field at
points A, B, and C.

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Revision

Have objectives been achieved?


Use what we know! Law for point charges!
Convert continuous charge distribution into many
point charges stacked together calculus
Use symmetry if possible to determine
direction of net E
EFLs Importance & Usage:
Remember to use definition first! and then may
be go to equations, combine equations, etc.
Later on in Ch 22: flux
Later on in Ch 23: gradient of E wrt space
Later on in Ch 24: capacitors
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