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Chapter – 1……..

ELECTRIC CHARGES AND FIELDS

Coulomb’s law:
The force of interaction between two stationary point charges in
vacuum is directly proportional to product of charges and
inversely proportional to the square of separation between them .

q1q2
here F  k
r2
, here k is proportionality constant.The value of
1
k
40
 9 109 Nm2 / C 2 .

Here  permittivity of free space , its value is


0 0  8.85 1012 C 2 N 1m2 .
 1 Coulomb is defined as that charge which when placed at a
distance of 1m from another charge of same magnitude in
vacuum , experiences an electric force of 9 10 N. In practice 9

we generally use mC or micro coulomb C .

If q1  q2  1C , and r  1m
1 1
then, F  9  109  9  109 N
12

Dielectric Constant or Relative permittivity:


The force between two charges q1 and q2 located at distance ‘r’
apart in medium may be expressed as :
Fvacuum 
1 q1q2
40 r 2
, Here  is absolute permittivity of medium.
0

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Fmedium 
1 q1q2
4 r 2
, Here  is absolute permittivity of medium.
1 q1q2
Fvacuum 4 0 r 2 

Fmedium

q
1 1 2 q
  r
0
, here  is relative permittivity of medium with
r

4 r 2

respect to vacuum. It is also denoted by ‘K’ also known an


dielectric constant of medium.
 Fvacuum F
 K (r )      K 0 or Fmedium  vacuum
0 Fmedium K

Coulomb’s law in Vector form:


Let two like charges q1 and q2 are present at separation ‘r’.

Therefore , According to Coulomb’s law force between them is


kq1q2
F
r2

Let r is unit vector pointing from q1 to q2.


12

kq1q2 kq q r
 F21  2
r12  12 2 . 12
r r r

Let r is unit vector pointing from q2 to q1 .


21

kq1q2 kq q r
 F12  2
r21  12 2 . 21
r r r

But since , r 12   r21 or , r21  r12 , therefore F12   F21 .


Limitations of Coulomb’s Law :

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(i) Electric charges should must be at rest.
(ii) The charges should must be point charges .it is not directly
applicable for extended charged body.

 Coulomb’s force is very much stronger than gravitational


force . F  10 F
electric .
30
gravitational

Superposition principle:
The coulomb's law obeys the principle of superposition, which
means that the force between two particles is not affected by the
presence of other charges. This principle is used to find the net
force exerted on a given particle by other charged particles.

Ftotal  F12  F13  F14  ........  F1n

-
q3

+ 
q4 F13

 + +
F12 q1 q2


F14

Fig.(3) Forces acting on q1 due to q2, q3 and q4 are shown

Continuous Charge distribution:


(i) Linear charge distribution: In this distribution charge
distributed on a line.Forexample : charge on a wire, charge on a
ring etc. Relevant parameter is  which is called linear charge
density.

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charge

length

(ii) Surface charge density : In this distribution charge


distributed on the surface.
For example : Charge on a conducting sphere, charge on a sheet
etc. Relevant parameter is  which is called surface charge
density .

charge

Area

(iii) Volumetric Charge density :In this distribution charge


distributed in the whole volume of the body.
For example : Non conducting charged sphere. Relevant
parameter is  which is called volume charge density i.e.,

charge

Volume

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Electric Field:
Eelctric field at a point is defined as the force experienced by a
unit positive charge placed at that point.
The charge which produces electric field is called Source charge
(Q) and charge (q) which experiences force is called test charge .

Electric Field Intensity:


The electric field intensity is defined as force experienced per
unit positive test charge placed at that point without disturbing
the source charge .
Mathematically , E  Lim qF .
q0  0
0

Electric field is a vector quantity whose direction is same as the


force experienced by a unit positive test charge .
The S.I. unit of electric field is N/C or Volt per metre(V/m) . The
dimensions of electric field are [MLT A ] . 3 1

+q -q

Electric Field Due to a point charge :


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The direction of E is that of the force on a positive charge. In
other words, positive charges experience forces parallel to the
field, and negative charges experience forces opposite to the
field Once the field strength is known, the force on any charge q
can be found from
F  qE

From Coulomb's law, the electric field created by a point charges


q is given by
kq
E r
r
where the unit vector has it's origin at the
2

source charge q.
Proof :
O r P
F
sourcecharge q0
test charge

Let us consider a point charge q placed at origin O . Let us place


another test charge q placed at point P. According to Coulomb’s
0

Law , the force on charge q is , 0

r , here r is a unit vector in direction from q to q .


1 qq
F 0

4 r 2 0
0

Electric field at point P is


1 qq0
r
F 40 r 2 1 q
E   r
q0 q0 40 r 2
1 q
Therefore , the magnitude of electric field is E
40 r 2
,
1
here E
r2
.
Electric Field Due to a System of Charges
Since the principle of superposition is valid for Coulomb's law, it
is also valid for the electric field. To calculate the field strength

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at point due to a system of charges, we first find the individual
field intensity E1 due to q1, E2 due to q2 and so on.
Charge particles :
For N point charges, the resultant field intensity is the vector sum
E  E1  E2  E3  ........  E n

q2 E1
-

E2


E3
-
q3
+
q1
Fig.(6) Electric field at a point is the superposition of
individual contribution of each charge.

Electric field at a point is the superposition of


individual contribution of each charge.

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Electric Field Intensity at any Point on the Axis of a
Uniformly Charged Ring
Consider a circular loop of wire of negligible thickness, radius a
andcentreO held perpendicular to the plane of the paper. Let the
loop carry a total charge q distributed uniformly over its
circumference. We have to determine electric field intensity at
any point P on the axis of the loop, where OP = r, figure below.

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Consider a small element AB of the loop. Let length of element
AB = dl and C be the centre of the element.
Charge on the element AB is dq  2qa dl ... (1)

Electric field intensity at P due to the charge element AB is


1 dq
| dE |
4 CP
along PC´ at  with the axis.
2
0

1 dq
| dE |
40 (r  a 2 )
2

dE can be resolved into two rectangular components.


dE cos  along PX, the axis of the loop, and dE sin  along PY,
perpendicular to the axis.
For a pair of diametrically opposite elements of the loop,
components of electric field intensity perpendicular to the axis
will cancel, whereas the components along the axis of the loop
will add. As the loop can be considered to be made up of a large
number of pairs of diametrically opposite elements, therefore,
 dE sin   0

Hence the resultant electric field intensity atP is


| E |  dE cos 

OP r
In DOPC, cos    2
CP (r  a 2 )1/2
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1 dq r
 | E | 
40 (r  a ) (r  a 2 )1/2
2 2 2

 q dl 
Using (1), we get | E |  41   2
r
= 4 2aqr(r  a )  dl =
0  2a  ( r  a )
2 3/2 2 2 3/2
0

qr (2a)
40 2a(r 2  a 2 )3/2
| E |
qr
40 (r 2  a 2 )3/2
………(3)

The direction of is along PX, the axis of the loop.


Special Cases
(i) When P lies at the centre of the loop.
r = 0, therefore from (3), E 0

(ii) When r >> a (i.e. P lies far off from the loop), neglecting a2
in comparison to r2 in (3), we get
qr q
| E |
40 r 3

40 r 2
, alongPX

This is expression for | E | at a distance r from a point charge q.


Hence a circular loop of charge behaves as a point charge when
the observation point (P) is at very large distance from the loop,
compared to the radius of the loop.

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