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9/16/2015

MasteringPhysics:Ch21HW

TheElectricFieldinsideaConductor
LearningGoal:
Tounderstandhowthechargeswithinaconductorrespondtoanexternallyappliedelectricfield.
Toillustratethebehaviorofchargeinsideconductors,consideralongconductingrodthatissuspendedbyinsulating
strings(seethefigure).Assumethattherodisinitiallyelectricallyneutral,andthatitremainssoforthisdiscussion.
Therodispositionedalongthexaxis,andanexternalelectricfieldthatpointsinthepositivexdirection(totheright)
canbeappliedtotherodandthesurroundingregion.Theatomsintherodarecomposedofpositivenuclei(indicated
byplussigns)andnegativeelectrons(indicatedbyminussigns).Beforeapplicationoftheelectricfield,theseatoms
weredistributedevenlythroughouttherod.

PartA
Whatistheforcefeltbytheelectronsandthenucleiintherodwhentheexternalfielddescribedintheproblem
introductionisapplied?(Ignoreinternalfieldsintherodforthemoment.)

Hint1.Formulafortheforceonachargeinanelectricfield
TheforceF onachargeq inanelectricfieldEisgivenby

F = qE

ANSWER:
Bothelectronsandnucleiexperienceaforcetotheright.
Thenucleiexperienceaforcetotherightandtheelectronsexperienceaforcetotheleft.
Theelectronsexperienceaforcetotheleftbutthenucleiexperiencenoforce.
Theelectronsexperiencenoforcebutthenucleiexperienceaforcetotheright.

Correct

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MasteringPhysics:Ch21HW

PartB
Whatisthemotionofthenegativeelectronsandpositiveatomicnucleicausedbytheexternalfield?

Hint1.Howtoapprochthispart
Newton's2ndLawtellsyouthatanobjectatrestwillmoveinthedirectionoftheforceappliedonit.

Hint2.Massesandchargesofnucleiandelectrons
Anucleuscontainsasmanyprotonsastheatomdoeselectrons.SoiftheatomhasNelectrons,the
nucleuswillcontainNprotons.ThismeansthattheforceonthenucleuswillbeNtimesasmuchasthaton
theelectron.ThisNisoftheorderof10100.
However,themassofanucleusisroughly2Ntimesthemassofaproton,sinceitcontainsbothprotons
andneutrons.Eachprotonitselfweighsabout1836timesasmuchasanelectron!Soatypicalnucleus
reallydoesweighalotmorethananelectron.
Giventhisinformation,howwouldthedistancemovedbyanucleuscomparewiththatmovedbyan
electron?
ANSWER:
Bothelectronsandnucleimovetotheright.
Thenucleimovetotherightandtheelectronsmovetotheleftthroughequaldistances.
Theelectronsmovetotheleftandthenucleiarealmoststationary.
Theelectronsarealmoststationaryandthenucleimovetotheright.

Correct
Thenucleioftheatomsofaconductingsolidremainalmostintheirplacesinthecrystallattice,whilethe
electronsrelativelymovealot.Inaninsulator,theelectronsareconstrainedtostaywiththeiratoms(or
molecules),andatmost,thechargedistributionisdisplacedslightly.
Themotionoftheelectronsduetotheexternalelectricfieldconstitutesanelectriccurrent.Sincethe
negativelychargedelectronsaremovingtotheleft,thecurrent,whichisdefinedasthe"flow"ofpositive
charge,movestotheright.

PartC
Imaginethattherightwardcurrentflowsintherodforashorttime.Asaresult,whatwillthenetchargeontheright
andleftendsoftherodbecome?

Hint1.Howtoapproachthispart
Rememberthattherodasawholemustremainelectricallyneutralevenifthechargesareredistributed.
Thisisbecauseapplyinganelectricfielddoesnotchangethechargeontherod,onlyredistributesit.
ANSWER:
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MasteringPhysics:Ch21HW

leftendnegativeandrightendpositive
leftendnegativeandrightendnegative
leftendnegativeandrightendnearlyneutral
leftendnearlyneutralandrightendpositive
bothendsnearlyneutral

Correct
Giventhatthepositivelychargednucleidonotmove,whydoestherightendoftherodbecomepositively
charged?Thereasonisthatsomeelectronshavemovedtotheleftend,leavinganexcessofstationary
nucleiattherightend.

PartD
Thechargeimbalancethatresultsfromthismovementofchargewillgenerateanadditionalelectricfieldinthe
regionwithintherod.Inwhatdirectionwillthisfieldpoint?

Hint1.Directionoftheelectricfield
Theelectricfieldpointawayfrompositivechargesandtowardsnegativeones.
ANSWER:
Itwillpointtotherightandenhancetheinitialappliedfield.
Itwillpointtotheleftandopposetheinitialappliedfield.

Correct
Anelectricfieldthatexistsinanisolatedconductorwillcauseacurrentflow.Thisflowsetsupanelectricfield
thatopposestheoriginalelectricfield,haltingthemotionofthechargesonananosecondtimescalefor
metersizedconductors.Forthisreason,anisolatedconductorwillhavenostaticelectricfieldinsideit,and
willhaveareducedelectricfieldnearit.Thisconclusiondoesnotapplytoaconductorwhoseendsare
connectedtoanexternalcircuit.Inacircuit,arod(orwire)canconductcurrentindefinitely.

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