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PHY150

CHAPTER 1 :ELECTRIC CHARGE & FIELD

1.1 Static electricity, electric charge & its conservation

All matter is made of atoms. These atoms are made of


electrons, protons and neutrons.

Each proton has one unit of positive charge and each


electron has one unit of negative charge. The neutron
has no charge.

An atom normally has the same number of electrons


and protons & thus is uncharged.

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If an electron is removed, the atom is left with a


positive charge (+ve) meaning that there is an excess
of protons.

If an extra electron is added, the atom has a negative


charge (-ve) meaning that there is an excess of
electrons.

The study of electric charges and the forces between


them is referred to as electrostatics.

When two materials are rubbed together, the atoms on


the two surfaces move across each other and brush off
electrons. The electrons are transferred from one
surface to the other. One surface is then left with a
positive charge while the other is negative. This is a
process of electrification & the effect is called static
electricity.

The charges are separated but the sum of the two is


zero. This is called the law of conservation of electric
charge which says,

The net amount of electric charge produced in any


process is zero

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Another rule of force for charges is,

Unlike charges attracts, whereas like charges repel


one another

1.2 Insulators & conductors

In conductors, electrons are bound very loosely and


can move freely within materials.
In insulators, electrons are bound very tightly to the
nuclei & cannot move.
In semiconductors, there is an intermediate between
conductors & insulators.

1.3 Induced Charges : The electroscope

Metal ball
Insulator

Metal
case Two gold
leaves

Glass
window

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The leaf electroscope consists of a thin strip of gold


foil leaves hanging from a metal rod with a metal ball
on the other end. The delicate leaves are enclosed to
protect them & the rod is insulated from the enclosure.
When charge is placed on the leaves, the strip diverges
because of the force of repulsion of their similar
charges.

Electroscope may be charged by conduction, by


touching a charged object to the metal ball. By
bringing a charged object near the metal ball but not
touching it, the electroscope is charged by induction.

+
-------- ++++++
Rubber rod Glass rod

Electron - - + +
repelled by the Electron
rubber rod attracted to the
glass rod

e
--------

- - Electrons
repelled to
earth when
touched.

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1.4 Coulombs Law

Coulombs law describes the force between two


charges when they are at rest. The law says, the force
between two point charges Q & Q is directly
proportional to the product of their magnitudes and
inversely proportional to the square of the distance
separating them.

kQ1Q2
F= r2

Where F = force of attraction/repulsion (N)


k = 9 x 109 Nm2/C2
Q & Q = size of charges (Coulombs)
r = distance between the charges (m)

Electric charge is quantized. This means that any


charge found in nature can be written as ne ( n =
integer). e is a constant of nature called the elementary
charge = 1.6 x 10-19 C.

The Coulombs law can also be written as,

1 Q1Q2
F= 4 o r 2

Where o = permittivity of free space


= 8.85 x 10-12 C2/Nm2

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The direction of the electric force is always along the line


joining the two charges. If the two charges have the same
sign, the force are directed away, vice versa.

The net force on any one of them will be the vector sum of
the forces due to each of the others.

Fnet = F1 + F2 + F3.. The principle of superposition.

Example 1:
Two charges, each with magnitude 6.5 x 10-5C are
separated by a distance of 0.2 cm. Find the force of
repulsion between them.
Solution:

(9 x10 9 )(6.5 x10 5 )(6.5 x10 5 )


F= ( 2 x10 3 ) 2

= 9.51 x 106 N

Example 2:
Three charges are arranged in a line as in the following
figure. Calculate the net electrostatic force on particle 3 due
to the other two charges.

0.30 m 0.20 m

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Q1 Q2 Q3

-8 C +3 C -4 C

Solution:

(9 x109 )(8 x10 6 )(4 x10 6 )


Regardless of sign, F31 = (0.5) 2

The force exerted on = 1.2 N


particle 3 by particle 1

(9 x109 )(4 x10 6 )(3 x10 6 )


F32 = (0.2) 2

= 2.7 N

According to the Principle of Superposition,


F = F31 + F32
F31 is repulsive (like charges repel)
F32 is attractive (unlike charges attract)
Thus, F = +1.2 2.7
= -1.5 N
The magnitude of the net force is 1.5 N and pointing to the
left.

Example 3 : Calculate the net electrostatic force on charge


Q3 due to the charges Q1 & Q2 in the following figure.

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Q3
65 C

30 cm 60 cm

30o
Q2 52 cm Q1
50 C -86 C

Solution
(9 x109 )(6.5 x10 5 )(5 x10 5 )
F32 = (0.3) 2
= 330 N

(9 x109 )(6.5 x10 5 )(8.6 x10 5 )


F31 = (0.6) 2
= 140 N

F32
Q3 +
30o
F31

Q2 (+) Q1 (-)
F = (Fx)i + (Fy)j

= (140 cos 30)i + (330 140 sin 30)j

Net force, Fnet = 2


Fx Fy
2

= 120 2 260 2

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= 290 N

Direction of force
Fy 260
Tan = Fx = 120 = 2.2

Thus, = tan-1 2.2

= 65o

1.5 Electric Field

The electric field, E at any point in space is defined,


F
E= q Unit N/C

F = qE

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Where F is the force exerted on charge q whereby q is the


magnitude of the positive test charge.

E
+
x q
Charged object, A

The electric field, E at x is defined to be E =F/q where F is


the force exerted on charge +q by the charged object A. The
electric field due to a positive charge points away from the
charge.

--- E
q

The electric field due to a negative charge points towards


the charge.
Thus, the electric field at a distance r from a single point
charge Q would have magnitude,

kqQ
E= r 2q

kQ
E = r2

Q
Or , E= 4 o r 2 Single point charge

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Example :

Calculate the magnitude & direction of the electric field at


a point P which is 30 cm to the right of a point charge Q =
-3C.

Solution :

30 cm E

-3C P

kQ
E= r2

(9 x109 )(3 x10 6 )


E= 0.32

= 3 x 105 N/C

The direction of the electric field is towards the charge Q.

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If the field is due to more than one charge, the individual


fields (E1, E2.) due to each charge are added vectorially
to get the total field at any point.

E = E1 + E2 + E3 ..

1.6 Field lines

Is also called line of forces.

Point outward because a positive test charge would be


accelerated in that direction.

As you move away from the central charge, the


electric field becomes weaker because the field lines
become progressively farther apart.

The tangent to a field line at any point gives the


direction of E at that point.

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The number of field lines per unit area is proportional


to the magnitude of E ; meaning that where the field
lines are close together, E is large and where there are
far apart, E is small.

Field lines always originate on positive charges and


terminate on negative charges.

E
+
+
++
++
+
+

Example : The following figure shows a charge Q1 of 1.5


C and Q2 which is 2.3 C. The first charge is at the origin
of an x-axis & the 2nd one is at a position x = L, where L =
13 cm. At what point P along the x-axis, is the electric field
zero?
L

Q1 P Q2

Solution:

The point must lie between the charges because only in this
region do the forces exerted by Q1 & Q2 oppose each other.

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E1 E2

Q1 Q2

To make the electric field vanish, the magnitudes of these


vector must be equal. Thus,

E1 = E 2

Q1 Q2
4 o x 2 = 4 o ( L x) 2

Where x is the position of point P,


L
X= 1
Q2
Q1

13cm
X= 1
2.3C
1.5C

X = 5.8 cm

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1.7 Electric Flux & Gauss Law

Gauss law, like Coulombs law also expresses the


relationship between charge and electric field in static
situation.

The Gauss Law o = Q


In which Q is the net charge inside an imaginary closed
surface (Gaussian surface) which is the algebraic
summation of all the charges contained within that closed
surface i.e. if a surface contains a couple of charges which
has the same magnitude, but opposite in sign, Q = 0.

is the outward flux of the electric field through the


surface.

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The Gaussian surface can be of any shape that you wish but
it must be drawn conform to symmetry. Thus, the Gaussian
surface will often turn out to be a sphere, a cylinder or
other symmetrical form. It must always be a closed surface
so that there can be a clear distinction between points that
are inside the surface, on the surface & outside the surface.

The flux of the electric field

Flux through a = E.dA


Gaussian surface

Normal
E

Area,dA

a) Flux = (Ecos ) dA

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b) Flux = E.dA

Thus, the Gauss law according to flux is then,

o E.dA = Q

Tips of using the Gauss law.

Sketch a diagram for the charged body.


To determine E at any point, choose any closed
surface (Gaussian surface) such that the point is
located on the surface.
Choose one closed surface where E is always
perpendicular to the surface.
Use the law.

Example : Proof that the Gauss law is similar to the


Coulombs law.

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P the Gaussian surface


r with radius r

+Q

According to Gauss law, o = Q


and = EdA

Area for a sphere , dA = 4r2


Thus,
o (E x 4r2 ) = Q
Q
E= 4 o r 2

If there is a charge q at point P, F exerted on it is,

qQ
F= 4 o r 2 Coulombs law

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1.8 Application of Gauss Law

1.8.1 Field of a charged conducting sphere

We place positive charge q on a solid conducting sphere


with radius R. Using Gauss law, find E at any point inside
or outside the sphere.

R
+Q

Solution

rR

r R

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The Gaussian surface

The charge is distributed uniformly over the surface of the


conducting sphere.

i) For r < R , the Gaussian surface is entirely within


the conductor. All of the charge is on the surface,
thus,
Qenclosed = 0
A = 4r2
Qenc .
According to Gauss law, E(4r2) = o

E=0 r<R

ii) For r = R, (on the surface)


Q
E(4R2) = o

Q
E= 4 o R 2 r=R

iii) For r > R, (outside the surface)


Q
E(4r2) = o

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Q
E= 4 o r 2 r>R

1.8.2 Field of a line charge

Electric charge is distributed uniformly along an infinite


long, thin wire. The charge per unit length is (assumed
positive). Find the electric field.

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

Solution

A coaxial cylindrical Gaussian surface is used to find the


electric field outside an infinitely long, charged wire.

dA E Gaussian surface

E= 0

l
There is no flux through the ends because E lies in the
plane of the surface.

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The E through the side walls is the same everywhere on the


walls. The area is 2Rl.
Q
Charge per unit length, = l enc.

l
From Gauss law, E. 2Rl = o


Thus, E= 2 o R Field of infinite line of
charge

1.8.3 Field of a hollow charged sphere/spherical shell

+
+ +
R
+ +
R1
+ +

+ +

There is no charge inside the sphere due to the ability


of the charge to flow inside the sphere and the repulsion
force between the same sign charges that push them to the
surface. The charges are uniformly distributed at the
external surface of the conducting sphere.

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Outside the sphere, r > R,


Q
E= 4 o r 2 True for both solid & shell

Inside the shell, r R1 ,

E =0 because there is no charge contained within sphere


i.e. Q = 0

1.8.4 Field of a uniformly charged sphere /non-


conducting sphere.

Positive electric charge Q is distributed uniformly


throughout the volume of an insulating sphere with radius
R. Find the magnitude of the electric field at point P at a
distance r from the center of the sphere.

Solution

+ +
+ + +
+ r
+ + + R +
+ +
+ + + Gaussian surface

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The amount of charge enclosed within the Gaussian surface


depends on the radius r. The volume charge density is the
charge Q divided by the volume of the entire charged
sphere of radius R :
Q
= 4R / 3
3

4r 3
The volume Venc enclosed by the Gaussian surface is 3
So, the total charge Qenc by that surface is,

Qenc = Venc
Q 4r 3
= ( 4R 3
/3
)( 3
)

r3
=Q R3
Then, from the Gauss law,

o(E.dA) = Qenc

r3
E (4r ) =
2
Q o R3

1 Qr
E= 4 o R 3 r<R

To find the field outside the charged sphere, we use the


Gaussian surface of radius r > R. This surface encloses the
entire charged sphere, so Qenc = Q. According to the Gauss
law,

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Q
4r2E = o

1 Q
Or E= 4 o r2 r>R

Example
A thin-walled, hollow sphere of radius 0.250 m has an
unknown amount of charge distributed uniformly over its
surface. At a distance of 0.300 m from the center of the
sphere, the electric field points directly towards the center
of the sphere and has magnitude 1.80 x 102 N/C. How
much charge is on the sphere?

Solution

The field is directed toward the sphere, so the charge must


be negative.
E(4r2)o = -Q
Q = - E(4r2)o

E = -(1.80 x 102)(4)(8.85 x 10-12)(0.3)2

Q = -8.01 x 10-10 C

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