2
12
2 1
0
12
4
1
r


.

\

=
r
q q
F
tc
12
r
ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM
P10D
Coulombs Law
The force of attraction or repulsion between two point charges q
1
and q
2
is
directly proportional to the product of their charges and inversely proportional
to the square of the distance between them.
where F
12
is the force exerted on point charge q
1
by point charge q
2
when they are separated by a distance r
12
.
The unit vector is directed from q2 to q1 along the line between the two
charges. The constant is called the permitivity of free space. In SI
units where force is in Newton's (N), distance in meters (m) and
charge in coulombs (C),
0
c
Topic Outline
Potential difference and
Electric Potential
Potential Difference in
Uniform Electric Field
Electric Potential and
Potential Energy due to
a Point Charge
Obtaining the value of
the electric field from
electric potential.
Electric Potential Due
to Continuous Charge
Distribution
Electric Potential Due to
a Charged Conductor
The Millikan Oil  Drop
Experiment
Applications of
Electrostatics
Electric Potential
Electrostatic Force given by Coulombs law is
conservative can use the idea of electric potential
Scalar quantity
Can use it to describe electrostatic phenomenon
more simply than electric field and electric force
Electric Potential Energy
Test charge q
o
placed in an electric field E created by
some other charged object. We get electric force q
o
E.
Coulombs force is a conservative force.
External agent displaces the charge, then work done
by the field is equal to work done by external agent
causing the displacement.
(REMEMBER: Work = force x displacement)
For an infinitesimal displacement ds, the work done,
dW, by the electric field on the charge is F . ds = q
o
E . ds.
Electric Potential Energy
The potential energy of the chargefield system is
decreased by an amount dU = q
o
E . ds =  dW
For a finite displacement of the charge from a point
A to a point B, the change in potential energy of the
system AU = U
B
U
A
is
AU =
q
o
E . ds
B
A
Integration performed along the path q
o
follows as it moves
from A to B (called path integral or line integral).
Force is conservative, this line integral does not depend on
the path taken from A to B.
Conservative Force
AU =
q
o
E . ds
B
A
If the path between A to B does not make any difference, why dont we
just use the expression AU = q
o
Ed where d is the straightline distance
between A and B ?
A
B
q
o
E
Electric Potential
The Potential Energy per unit charge U/q
o
is
independent of the value of q
o
and has a unique value at
every point in an electric field. This quantity is called the
electric potential (or simply the potential) V.
V = U/q
o
Potential difference AV = V
B
V
A
between any two
points A and B is
AV = AU / q
o
= E . ds
B
A
Electric Potential at an arbitrary point
Electric potential at an arbitrary point in an electric
field equals the work required per unit charge to bring a
positive test charge from infinity (where V =0) to that
point.
Electric potential at any point P is
V
p
= E . ds
P
Note that V
p
represents the potential difference AV
between the point P and a point at infinity.
S.I. unit J/C defined as a volt (V) and 1 V/m = 1 N/C
Potential Differences in Uniform E field
When the electric field E is directed downward, point B is at a
lower electric potential than point A. A positive test charge that
moves from point A to point B loses electric potential energy.
Electric field lines always point in the direction of
decreasing electric potential.
Example: Uniform field along y axis (E
parallel to ds)
V
B
V
A
= AV = E . ds
B
A
=
B
A
E ds
AV =
B
A
E ds = E d
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Potential Energy in Uniform E field
Example: Uniform field along y axis (E parallel to ds)
And suppose a test charge q
o
moves from A to B.
We have AU = q
o
AV = q
o
E d
If q
o
is positive then AU is negative. i.e. a positive
charge loses electric potential energy when it
moves in the direction of the electric field.
This means electric field does work on a positive
charge when the charge moves in the direction of
the electric field.
Release the test charge at rest, it will accelerate
downward, gaining kinetic energy.
As the charged particle gains kinetic energy, it
loses an equal amount of potential energy.
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Potential Energy in Uniform E field
Example: Uniform field along y axis (E parallel to ds)
And suppose a test charge q
o
moves from A to B.
We have AU = q
o
AV = q
o
E d
If q
o
is negative then AU is positive and the
situation is reversed: a negative charge gains
electric potential energy when it moves in the
direction of the electric field.
The external agent has to do work to cause this
to happen.
Release the test charge at rest, it will accelerate
upward in the direction opposite to electric field.
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Example (Potential Energy in Uniform Field)
S & B 25.2 An ion accelerated through a potential
difference of 115 V experiences an increase in
kinetic energy of 7.37 x 10
17
J. Calculate the
charge on the ion.
qV= 7.37x10
17
J , V=115 V
q = 6.41x10
19
C
Potential Diff. In Uniform E field
Show that the potential diff. between path (1) and (2) are the same
as expected for a conservative force field.
Charged particle moves from A to B
in uniform E field.
AV = E . ds = E . ds = E . s
B
A
B
A
AU = q
o
AV =  q
o
E . s = q
o
Es cos u
u
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Potential Diff. In Uniform E field (Path independence)
Show that the potential difference between path (1) and (2) are the same as
expected for a conservative force field.
AV =  E . ds = Es cos u
B
A
B
c
AV = 
c
A
E . ds +  E . ds
u
h
AV =
c
A
E . ds = E h = E s cos u
= 0 since E ds
Same
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path (1)
path (2)
path (2)
path (1)
Equipotential
AV = E . ds = 0
B
c
V
C
= V
B
( same potential)
In fact, points along
this line has the same
potential. We have an
equipotential line.
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Equipotential Surfaces
The name equipotential surface is given to any
surface consisting of a continuous distribution of
points having the same electric potential.
No work is done in moving a test charge between
any two points on an equipotential surface.
The equipotential surfaces of a uniform electric
field consist of a family of planes that are all
perpendicular to the field.
Equipotential Surface
Equipotential Surfaces (dashed blue lines) and electric field lines (orange
lines) for (a) a uniform electric field produced by infinite sheet of charge, (b)
a point charge, and (c) an electric dipole. In all cases, the equipotential
surfaces are perpendicular to the electric field lines at every point.
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Equipotential Surfaces
Rank the work done by the E field on a positively
charged particle that moves from (i) A to B; (ii) B to
C; (iii) C to D; (iv) D to E.
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Efield between two parallel plates
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Assume uniform field, and 3 mm plate separation
E = V
B
V
A
 / d = 12 / 3.0x10
3
= 4000 V/m
E directed from A (+ve) to B (ve)
A(+ve) plate is at higher potential than ve plate.
Potential difference between plates = potential difference
between battery terminals because all points on a conductor
in equilibrium are at the same electric potential; no potential
difference exists between a terminal and any portion of the
plate to which it is connected.
Motion of a proton in a uniform E field
A proton is released from rest in a
uniform E field that has a magnitude of
8 x 10
4
V/m and is directed along the
positive xaxis. The proton undergoes a
displacement of 0.50 m in the direction
of E.
(a) Find the change in electric potential
between points A and B.
(b) Find the change in potential energy of
the proton for this displacement.
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(a) AV = Ed = (8.0x10
4
V/m) (0.50m) = 4.0x10
4
V
(b) AU = q AV = (1.6 x 1019 C) (4 .0x10
4
V) = 6.4 x 10
15
J
What is the significance of the negative sign?
What is the speed of the proton?
Example (Motion in Uniform Field)
S & B 25.8 Suppose an electron is released from rest
in a uniform electric field whose magnitude is 5.90 x
10
3
V/m. (a) Through what potential difference will it
have passed after moving 1.00 cm? (b) How fast will
the electron be moving after it has traveled 1.00 cm?
(a) ,AV = Ed = (5.90 x 10
3
V/m)(0.0100 m) = 59.0 V
(b) q ,AV = mv
2
/2 v = 4.55x10
6
m/s
Example (Motion in Uniform Field)
S & B 25.13 On planet Tehar, the acceleration due
to gravity is the same as that on Earth but there is
also strong downward electric field with the field
being uniform close to the planets surface. A 2.00
kg ball having a charge of 5.00 C is thrown
upward at a speed of 20.1 m/s and it hits the
ground after an interval of 4.10 s. What is the
potential difference between the starting point and
the top point of the trajectory? (Tutorial)
Example (Motion in Uniform Field)
S & B 25.14 An insulating rod having linear charge density = 40.0
C/m and linear mass density = 0.100 kg/m is released from rest
in a uniform electric field E = 100 V/m directed perpendicular to the
rod as shown. (a) Determine the speed of the rod after it has
traveled 2.00 m. (b) How does you answer to part (a) change if the
electric field is not perpendicular to the rod ? (Ignore gravity)
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Arbitrarily take V = 0 at the initial point, so at
distance d downfield, where L is the rod length
V= Ed and U
e
= LEd
(K + U)
i
= (K +U)
f
0 +0 =
1
2
Lv
2
LEd
v =
2Ed
2(40. 0 10
6
C/m)(100 N/C)(2. 00 m)
(0. 100 kg/m)
= 0.4 m/s =
(b) same
Electric Potential and Potential Energy due to point charges
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Consider isolated positive point charge q.
(i.e. E directed radially outward from the
charge)
To find electric potential at a point located at
a distance r from the charge, start with the
general expression for potential difference:
V
B
V
A
= E . ds
B
A
Where A and B are two arbitrary points as
shown.
E = kq/r
2
r, where r is a unit vector directed
from the charge toward the field point.
Electric Potential and Potential Energy due to point charges
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We can express E . ds as
E . ds = kq/r
2
r . ds
The magnitude of r is 1, dot product r . ds = ds cos u,
where u is the angle between r and ds .
ds cos u is the projection of ds onto r , thus
ds cos u = dr.
V
B
V
A
=  E . ds
B
A
= 
B
A
kq/r
2
dr
Electric Potential and Potential Energy due to point charges
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V
B
V
A
= 
B
A
E
r
dr
V
B
V
A
=
r
B
r
A
kq/r
2
dr = 
kq
r
r
A
r
B
V
B
V
A
= kq
1
r
B
1
r
A
Depends only on the coordinates and not on the path.
Electric Potential and Potential Energy due to point charges
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V =
kq
r
r
A
= infinity (and V
A
= 0), we
have electric potential created by
a point charge at a distance r
from the charge given by
Points at same distance r from q
have the same potential V, i.e. the
equipotential surfaces are spherical and
centered on the charge.
Potential due to two or more charges:
Superposition
where potential is taken to be zero at infinity and r
i
is the
distance from the point P to the charge q
i
.
Note that this is a scalar sum rather than a vector sum.
V =
q
i
r
i
E
k
i
P
q
1
q
2
q
3
q
5
q
4
r
1
r
2
r
3
r
4
r
5
Example
S&B 25.18 A charge +q is at the origin. A charge 2q
is at x = 2.00 m on the x axis. For what finite value(s)
of x is (a) the electric field zero ? (b) the electric
potential zero ?
x
2
+ 4.00x 4.00 = 0
(x+4.83)(x0.83)=0
x =  4.83 m
(other root is not physically valid)
0
) 00 . 2 (
2
=


.

\

+
=
x
q
x
q
V
x = 0.667 m and x= 2.00 m
0
) 00 . 2 (
2
2 2
=


.

\

+
=
x
q
x
q
k E
Potential Energy of a system of two charges
If two point charges are separated by a distance r
12
, the
potential energy of the pair of charges is given by
U
12
= k
q
1
q
2
r
12
k =
1
4tc
o
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V
1
= potential at a point P due to
q
1
, external agent must do work to
bring a second charge q
2
from
infinity to P and this work = q
2
V
1
.
Definition: This work done is
equal to the potential energy
U of the twoparticle system.
P
Potential Energy
Three point charges are
fixed at the positions
shown. The potential
energy of this system of
charges is given by
U = k
q
1
q
2
r
12
q
1
q
3
r
13
q
2
q
3
r
23
+
+
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Example (Potential Energy)
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S&B 25.23 What is the amount of work required
to assemble four identical point charges of
magnitude Q at the corners of a square of side s?
U = 0 + U12 + (U13 + U23) + (U14 + U24 + U34)

.

\

+ + +

.

\

+ + + = 1
2
1
1 1
2
1
0
2 2 2
s
Q k
s
Q k
s
Q k
e e e

.

\

+ =
2
2
4
2
s
Q k
U
e
s
s
s
s
Example (Potential Energy)
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S&B 25.55 The charge distribution as shown is
referred to as a linear quadrupole. (a) What is the
potential at a point on the axis where x > a? (b)
What happens when x >> a?
Example (Potential Energy)
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V = k
e
Q 
.

\

+
+ a x x a x
1 2 1
2 3
2
2
xa x
Qa k
e
=
3
2
2
x
Qa k
e
V =
As x >> a
Electric Potential and Potential Energy due to
point charges
Homework: create an array of 2,3,4,5 charges
and construct the corresponding equipotential
contours and electric field lines distribution. You
may want to verify your results with results from
following webpage.
Click here to get to website that generate field lines for your chosen
charge distribution
Electric Field from Electric Potential
Electric field related to electric potential by
AV = AU / q
o
= E . ds
B
A
This means
dV = E . ds
If electric field has only one component E
x
, then E . ds = E
x
dx. We
have dV = E
x
dx or
E
x
=
dV
dx
Electric Field from Electric Potential
E
x
=
dV
dx
Magnitude of E field in the direction of some coordinate
is equal to negative of the derivative of the electric
potential w.r.t. that coordinate.
If the charge distribution creating the Efield has
spherical symmetry such that the volume charge density
depends only on the radial distance r, then the electric field
is radial. In this case, and E . ds = E
r
dr
E
r
=
dV
dr
Electric Field from Electric Potential
For point charge V = kq/r and we have E = kq/r
2
The potential changes only in the radial direction, not in
any direction perpendicular to r. Thus V is a function only
of r.
E
r
=
dV
dr
Equipotential surfaces are a family
of spheres concentric with the
spherically symmetric charge
distribution.
Equipotential surface perpendicular
to field lines.
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Electric Field from Electric Potential
More general expression (in cartesian coordinate)
E
=
dV
dx
+
x
y z
dV
dy
dV
dz
+
More general expression (in spherical coordinate)
E
=
dV
dr
+
r
u 
1 dV
r du
1 dV
r sin(u) d
+
u

r
x
y
z
From general expression to simplified expression
More general expression (in spherical coordinate)
E
=
dV
dr
+
r
u 
1 dV
r du
1 dV
r sin(u) d
+
If the potential V does no depends on the coordinates u
and , then dV/du = 0 and dV/d = 0, we have
E
=
dV
dr
r
Example: Electric Potential due to a dipole
An electric dipole consists of two charges
of equal magnitude and opposite sign
separated by a distance 2a. The dipole is
along the xaxis and is centered at the
origin. (a) Calculate the electric potential
at point P. (b) Calculate V and E
x
at a
point far from the dipole. (c) Calculate V
and E
x
if P is located anywhere between
the two charges.
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V =
q
i
r
i
E
k
i
= k
q
x a x+ a
q
=
2kqa
x
2
 a
2
(a)
(b) x >> a, V ~ 2kqa/x
2
E
x
= dV/dx = 4kqa/x
3
(c)
V =
q
i
r
i
E
k
i
= k
q
a  x x+ a
q
=
2kqx
x
2
 a
2
E
x
=
dV
dx
=
d
dx
2kqx
x
2
 a
2
= 2kq
x
2
a
2
x
2
 a
2 2
Example (E = dV/dx)
S&B 25.37 Over a certain region of space, the electric
potential is V = 5x 3x
2
y + 2yz
2
. Find the expression for
the x,y,z components of the electric field over this region.
What is the magnitude of the field at the point P, which
has coordinates (1, 0, 2)m?
E
x
=  dV/dx
E
y
=  dV/dy
E
z
=  dV/dz
Electric Potential due to continuous charge distribution
Calculate electric potential due to a continuous
charge distribution in two ways.
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(1) Consider potential due to small
charge element dq, treating this
element as a point charge. The
electric potential dV at some point
P due to dq is
dV = k
dq
r
V = k
dq
r
Summing up all elements
Electric Potential due to continuous charge distribution
Calculate electric potential due to a continuous
charge distribution in two ways.
(2) If electric field is already known from other
considerations (Gausss Law), we can calculate the
electric potential due to a continuous charge
distribution using
AV
=  E . ds
B
A
First determine AV between any two points and
then choose the electric potential V to be zero at
some convenient point.
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged ring
(a) Find an expression for the electric
potential at point P located on the
perpendicular central axis of a
uniformly charged ring of radius a and
total charge Q. (b) Find an expression
for the magnitude of the electric field
at point P.
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V = k
dq
r
= k
dq
(a) Charge element dq is at a distance x
2
+a
2
from point P.
x
2
+ a
2
And each element dq is at the same distance from P, i.e.
= dq
x
2
+ a
2
V
k
=
x
2
+ a
2
kQ
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged ring
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E
x
= 
(b) Use E
x
=  dV/dx
What about E
y
and E
z
?
What is the electric potential at the center of the ring?
What is the electric field at the center of the ring?
(x
2
+ a
2
)
dV
1/2
kQx
dx
=  kQ
d
dx
E
x
=
=  kQ ( )
(x
2
+ a
2
)
3/2
2x (x
2
+ a
2
)
3/2
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged ring
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kQx
E
x
=
(x
2
+ a
2
)
3/2
Flashback from topic l
Electric Potential due to uniformly charged ring
Example 25 Q41 here
Consider a ring of radius R with the total charge Q
spread uniformly over its perimeter. What is the
potential difference between the point at the center
of the ring and a point on its axis a distance 2R
from the center?
( )
R
Q k
R
Q k
R
Q k
R R
Q k
V V V
e
e
e e
R
553 . 0
1
5
1
2
2
2
0 2
=


.

\

=
+
= = A
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged disk
(a) Find an expression for the
electric potential at point P
located on the perpendicular
central axis of a uniformly charged
disk of radius a and surface charge
density o. (b) Find an expression
for the magnitude of the electric
field at point P.
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(a) Divide into rings radius r and width dr and surface
area dA=2tr dr
k dq
dV =
x
2
+ r
2
=
x
2
+ r
2
ko2trdr
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged disk
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(a) To find the potential, sum over
all rings. Integrate dV from r= 0
to r= a:
V =
x
2
+ r
2
2r dr
tko
0
a
V =
2tko
(x
2
+ a
2
)
1/2
 x
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged disk
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(b) E
x
=  dV/dx
2tko (x
2
+ a
2
)
1/2
 x
E
x
= 
dV
dx
= 
d
dx
x
2
+ a
2
x
1  E
x
= 2tko
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged disk
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x
2
+ a
2
x
1  E
x
= 2tko
When you are really close to this disk, then it is as
if you are looking at an infinite plane of charge, use
above equation to deduce the electric field. Is the
result consistent with the result obtained from our
discussion using Gausss law ?
Electric Potential due to uniformly charged
annulus
Calculate the electric potential at point P on the axis
of an annulus, which has uniform charge density o.
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dr r dA dq
x r
dq k
dV
e
t o o 2 where
2 2
= =
+
=
V = 2tok
e
rdr
r
2
+ x
2
a
b
}
=
V= 2tok [ (x
2
+b
2
)
1/2
 (x
2
+a
2
)
1/2
]
Electric Potential due to nonuniformly charged disk
A disk of radius R has a nonuniform surface charge
density o=Cr where C is constant and r is distance from
the center of the disk as shown. Find the potential at P.
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dV =
k
e
dq
r
2
+ x
2
dq = odA = Cr(2rdr) and
}
+
=
R
e
x r
dr r
k C V
0
2 2
2
) 2 ( t
V= C(2tk) {R(R
2
+x
2
)
1/2
+x
2
ln(x/[R+ (R
2
+x
2
)
1/2
])}
Standard
integral
Electric Potential due to a finite line of charge
A rod of length l located along the x axis
has a total charge Q and a uniform linear
charge density =Q/ l . Find the electric
potential at a point P located on the y axis
at distance a from the origin.
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Length element dx with charge dq = dx
dV =
r
dq
= k
x
2
+ a
2
dx
k
Integrate dV over limits x=0 to x = l
l
Electric Potential due to a finite line of charge
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V = k
dx
Integrate dV over limits x=0 to x = l
l
0
x
2
+ a
2
Note = Q/ l and
dx
x
2
+ a
2
= ln (x + x
2
+a
2
)
We have
Natural Log
V =
kQ
l
ln
l + l
2
+a
2
a
l
Electric Potential due to a finite line of charge
A rod of length 2 l located along the x
axis has a total charge Q and a uniform
linear charge density =Q/2l . Find the
electric potential at a point P located on
the y axis a distance a from the origin.
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
l
V = k
dx
l
x
2
+ a
2
 l
V =
kQ
2 l
ln
l
2
+a
2
+ l
l
2
+a
2
 l
How is this result consistent with the E field for infinite line of
charge obtained using Gausss Law? (Homework)
Electric Potential due to a finite line of charge
A rod of length L as shown lies along the x axis with
its left end at the origin and has a nonuniform charge
density = ox (where o is a positive constant).
(a) What are the units of o?
(b) Calculate the electric potential at point A.
(c) Calculate the electric potential at point B.
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
(a) C/m
2
V = k
}
r
dq
= k
}
r
dx
=
+
=
}
L
x d
dx x
k
0
) (
o
(b)
= ko [ L d ln( 1 + L/d) ]
(c) Homework for the brave.
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged sphere
An insulating solid sphere of
radius R has a uniform
positive volume charge
density and total charge Q.
(a) Find the electric potential at
a point outside the sphere,
that is, r > R. Take the
potential to be zero at r = .
(b) Find the potential of a point
inside the sphere, (r < R).
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In this case, it is easier to use electric field obtained in
our previous discussions and determine the electric
potential.
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged sphere
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
Outside the sphere, we have
k Q
E
r
=
r
2
For r > R
To obtain potential at B, we use
V
B
= 
r
E
r
dr =  kQ
r
r
2
dr
V
B
=
k Q
r
Potential must be continuous at r = R, => potential at surface
V
C
=
k Q
R
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged sphere
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
Inside the sphere, we have
k Q
E
r
=
R
3
For r < R
To obtain the potential difference at D, we use
V
D
 V
C
= 
r
E
r
dr = 
r dr =
r
R
k Q
R
3
r
R
k Q
2R
3
( R
2
r
2
)
V
C
=
k Q
R
Since
To obtain the absolute value of the potential at D, we add
the potential at C to the potential difference V
D
 V
C
:
V
D
=
k Q
2R
3 
r
2
R
2
Check V for r = R
For r < R
Electric Potential due to a uniformly charged sphere
What are the magnitude of the
electric field and the electric potential
at the center of the sphere?
A plot of electric potential V versus
distance r from the center of a
uniformly charged insulating spheres
of radius R. The curve for V
D
inside
the sphere is parabolic and joined
smoothly with the curve for V
B
outside
the sphere, which is a hyperbola. The
potential has a maximum value Vo at
the center of the sphere.
What are the differences if the sphere
is a conducting sphere?
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Electric Potential due to a charged conductor
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Every point on the surface of a charged
conductor in equilibrium is at the same
electric potential.
Consider two points A and B on the surface of a
charged conductor as shown. Along a surface path
connecting these points, E is always perpendicular
to the displacement ds; therefore E.ds = 0.
Using this result and
We find potential difference between A and B is = zero.
This result applies to any two points on the surface
V
B
 V
A
=  E . ds = 0
B
A
Electric Potential due to a charged conductor
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What about inside the conductor?
Because the electric field is zero inside the conductor,
we conclude from the relationship E = dV/dr that the
electric potential is constant everywhere inside the
conductor and equal to its value at the surface.
What is the work done in moving a positive
charge from the interior of a charged
conductor to its surface?
Electric Potential due to a charged conductor
An arbitrarily shaped conductor carrying a positive charge.
When the conductor is in electrostatic equilibrium, all of the
charge resides at the surface, E = 0 inside the conductor, and
the direction of E just outside the conductor is perpendicular
to the surface. The electric potential is constant inside the
conductor and is equal to the potential at the surface.
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Note from the spacing of the plus (+) signs that the surface charge density is
nonuniform.
Surface charge density is high where the radius of curvature is small and the
surface is convex. And viceversa.
Because E field just outside the conductor is proportional to the surface charge
density, we see that the electric field is large near convex points having
small radii of curvature and reaches very high values at sharp points.
Can you explain the shape of a lightning rod?
Electric Potential due to Spherical Charged
Conductor
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Outside the sphere, we have
k Q
E
r
=
r
2
For r > R
To obtain potential at B, we use
V
B
= 
r
E
r
dr =  kQ
r
r
2
dr
V
B
=
k Q
r
Electric Potential due to a charged conductor
(a) The excess charge on a
conducting sphere of radius R is
uniformly distributed on its
surface.
(b) Electric potential versus distance r
from the center of the charged
conducting sphere.
(c) Electric field magnitude versus
distance r from the center of the
charged conducting sphere.
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Example:
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
25 Q 47
How many electrons should be removed from an initially
uncharged spherical conductor of radius 0.300 m to
produce a potential of 7.5 kV at the surface?
Substituting given values into V = = 7.50 x 10
3
V
=
r
q k
e
) m 300 . 0 (
) /C Nm 10 x 99 . 8 (
2 2 9
q
C 10 50 . 2
7
= q
= 1.56 x 10
12
electrons
Electric Potential due to a charged conductor
The electric field lines (in
orange) around two
spherical conductors.
The smaller sphere has a
net charge Q, and the
larger one has zero net
charge. The blue curves
are cross sections of
equipotential surfaces.
Pictures from Serway & Beichner
Note that the surface charge density is not uniform
Example: Two connected Charged Conducting Spheres
Two spherical conductors of radii r
1
and r
2
are
separated by a distance much greater than the
radius of either sphere. The spheres are
connected by a conducting wire. The charges on
the spheres in equilibrium (the spheres are at
the SAME electric potential V) are q
1
and q
2
respectively, the they are uniformly charged.
Find the ratio of the magnitudes of the electric
fields at the surfaces of the spheres.
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Connected both must have the same electric potential.
V = kq
1
/r
1
= kq
2
/r
2
q
1
/r
1
=
q
2
/r
2
Sphere far apart charge uniform magnitude of surface E given by
E
1
= kq
1
/r
1
2
and E
2
= kq
2
/r
2
2
we have E
1
/E
2
= r
2
/r
1
The Millikan OilDrop Experiment
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http://www.mdclearhills.ab.ca/millikan/experiment.html
At equilibrium
qE = mg gives q
http://www.ccmr.cornell.edu/~muchomas/8.04/Lecs/lec_Millikan/
Coulombs law and the Principle of Superposition
constitute the physical input for electrostatics.
The force on any one charge due to a collection of
other charges
is the vector sum of the forces due to each individual
charge.
=
i
i
F F
Problem Solving Strategies:
1. 1.Draw a clear diagram of the situation. Be sure
to distinguish between the fixed external charges and
the charges which the forces must be found. The
Diagram should contain the coordinate axes for
reference.
2. 2.Electric force is a vector quantity; when many
forces are present the net force is a vector sum.
3. 3.Search for symmetries in the distribution of
charges that give rise to the electric force. When
Symmetries are present, the net force along certain
directions will be zero.
Example: Consider three point charges
q
1
= q
2
= 2.0 C and q
3
= 3 C which are placed as
shown. Calculate the net force on q
1
and q
3
.
The force on q1 is F1 = F12 + F13.
Similarly, F3 = F31 + F32
Electric Field.
Electric field is defined as the electric force per unit
charge. The direction of the field is taken to be the
direction of the force it would exert on a positive test
charge. The electric field is radically outward from a
positive charge and radically in toward a negative point
charge. The electric field can be defined by measuring
the magnitude and direction of the electric force F on a
test charge q0. A small test charge is used so as not to
interfere with the field distribution of the other charges.
Thus we define the electric field as
0 0
lim
0
q
q
F
E
\



.

\

= i E
I
3
0
4 r tc
p
E =
y r ~
3
0
4 y tc
p
E =
The electric field decreases with r as 1/r
3
.
Finally,
.If r >>L, then
And
Electric Dipole Field:
Charge Distributions:
The simplest kind of charge distribution is an isolated point
charge (i.e., an amount of charge covering such a small region
of space that we need not be concerned about its dimensions).
When the finite size of the space occupied by a collection of
charges must be considered, it is useful to consider the density
of charge. The word density is used is used in three different
ways.
(rho) for the charge per unit volume, the volume density
(sigma) for the charge per unit area, the area density
(lambda) for the charge per unit length, the linear density
Thus we can write
1 2 3
Cm
dl
dq
, Cm
dA
dq
, cm
dV
dq
= = o =
Find the electric field a distance z above the midpoint of a
straight line segment of length 2L which carries a uniform line
charge .
(Model of a transmission line). It is advantageous to chop
the line
up into symmetrically placed pairs
(at x).
Here where q is the total charge on the rod
The horizontal components of the two fields cancel.
The net field of the pair is
Here , and x runs from 0 to L
L
q
2
=
u
tc
cos
4
1
2
2
0

.

\

=
r
dx
dE
2 2
cos
x z
z
r
z
+
= = u
( )
2 2
0
0
2 2 2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
4
2
2
4
1
L z z
L
x z z
x z
dx
x z
z
E
L
L x
x
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
=
}
=
=
tc
tc
tc
( )
dx
x z
z
E
L x
x
}
=
=
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
tc
How to evaluate this integral
( )
}
+
2 / 3
2 2
x z
dx
Consider
( ) u u
2 2 2 2 2 2
sec 1 tan z z z x = + = +
u tan z x =
Let then
and
u ud z dx
2
sec =
Substitute these into the integral:
( ) ( )
c
z
d
z
d
z
z
d z
x z
dx
+ = = = =
+
} } } }
u u u u
u
u
u u
sin
1
cos
1
sec
1 1
sec
sec
2
2
2 2 / 3
2 2
2
2 / 3
2 2
2 2
sin
z x
x
+
= u
From diagram,
( )
2 2
2 2 / 3
2 2
1
z x
x
z
x z
dx
+
=
+
}
Hence
Hence Substitute the limits x = 0 and x = L to get the
desired answer.
For points far from the line ( z >> L), this result simplifies to
2
0
2
4
1
z
L
E
tc
~
L q 2 =
The line looks like a point charge
, so the field reduces to that of a
point charge
( )
2
0
4 / z q tc
Find the electric field a distance z above one end of a straight
line segment of length L, which carries a uniform line charge .
(Model of a transmission line)
( )
2 2
0
0
2 2
2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2 2 2
0
2
0
4
1 1
4
1
1
4
1
cos ; ; cos
4
1
L z
L
z
x z
x
z
z
dx
x z
z
r
z
x z r
r
dx
E
L x
x
L
L x
x
z
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
=

.

\

= + = =
=
=
=
=
}
}
tc
tc
tc
u u
tc
( )
(
(
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
= =
=
=
} }
2 2
0
0
2 2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
0
2
0
1 1
4
1 1
4
1
4
1
sin
4
1
L z
z
x z
x z
xdx
r
dx
E
L x
x
L L
x
tc
tc
tc
u
tc
(
(


.

\

+
+


.

\

+
= z x 1
4
1
2 2 2 2
0
L z
L
L z
z
z
E
tc
Net electric field E = Ex + Ez
For z >> L and
L q =
z
4
1
2
0
z
L
E
tc
2
=
u
tc
cos
4
1
2
0
}
=
r
dl
E
z
r
z
z R r = + = u cos ;
2 2 2
( )
}
+
= dl
R z
z
E
z
2 / 3
2 2
0
4
1
tc
R dl t 2 =
}
(both constants)
But
( )
( )
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
R z
z R
E
z
+
=
t
tc
Find the electric field a distance z above the center of a flat
circular disk of radius a, which carries a uniform surface
density, .
(Models an electrostatic microphone)
A typical element is a ring of radius r and thickness dr, which has
an area .
o
rdr dA t 2 =
The charge density on the disk is
( )
2
/ a q t o =
The charge on the element is:
2 2
2
2
a
qrdr
rdr
a
q
dA dq = = = t
t
o
The electric field at P produced by this ring is
( ) ( )
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
4
1
r z
rdr
a
qz
dq
r z
z
dE
+
=
+
=
tc tc
Since we have expressed a positive ring thickness as dr, we sum
the rings from the center toward the edge. That is, the radius
ranges from 0 to a.
( )
dr
r z
r
a
qz
E
a
}
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2
4
1
tc
( )
dr
r z
r
a
qz
E
a
}
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2
4
1
tc
2 2
r z u + = Let
then du = 2r dr, and
( )


.

\

+
=
= =
+
+
+ =
=
} }
z
a z
/
u
u
du
dr
a z
r
a z
z
a z u
z u
a
1 1
2
2 1
2
2 2
2 / 1
2 / 3
0
2 / 3
2 2
2 2
2
2 2
2


.

\

+
=
2 2
2
0
1
4
2
a z
z
a
q
E
tc
So
2
0
4
2
a
q
E
tc
~
When z << a,
When z << a,
2
0
4
1
z
q
E
tc
=
which is the expected result for a point charge located at the origin.
Gauss Law:
The net flux through any closed surface is proportional to
the net charge enclosed by that surface, i.e.,
}
=
o
enc
Q
c
A d E
The total of the electric flux out of a closed surface is equal
to the charge enclosed divided by the permittivity.
The electric flux through an area is defined as the electric
field multiplied by the area of the surface projected in a
plane perpendicular to the field.
Gauss's Law is a general law applying to any closed surface.
It is an important tool since it permits the assessment of the
amount of enclosed charge by mapping the field on a surface
outside the charge distribution. For geometries of sufficient
symmetry, it simplifies the calculation of the electric field.
Gauss' Law, Integral Form
The area integral of the electric field over any closed surface is
equal to the net charge enclosed in the surface divided by the
permittivity of space. Gauss' law is a form of one of Maxwell's
equations, the four fundamental equations for electricity and
magnetism.
Gauss' law permits the evaluation of the electric field in many
practical situations by forming a symmetric Gaussian surface
surrounding a charge distribution and evaluating the electric
flux through that surface.
Flux and Gauss's Law
Example: Water Flow
Suppose water flows through a square surface of area A with a
uniform velocity
.
We want to define flux as the amount of water that flows
through the surface per second. First, notice that the flux
depends on the direction of the velocity vector
relative to the surface.
Questions
Compare the water flux in the following three
situations. Rank the flux in cases (a), (b), and
(c), from largest to smallest
(a)
is perpendicular to the surface
(b)
is at a 45 degree angle to the surface
(c)
is parallel to the surface
2 / 1
If the biggest flux is 1, what is the relative number
corresponding to the flux in the other two cases?
Answer
(a): 1
(b):
(c): 0
12
2
12
2 1
0
12
4
1
r


.

\

=
r
q q
F
tc
12
r
ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM
P10D
Coulombs Law
The force of attraction or repulsion between two point charges q
1
and q
2
is
directly proportional to the product of their charges and inversely proportional
to the square of the distance between them.
where F
12
is the force exerted on point charge q
1
by point charge q
2
when they are separated by a distance r
12
.
The unit vector is directed from q2 to q1 along the line between the two
charges. The constant is called the permitivity of free space. In SI
units where force is in Newton's (N), distance in meters (m) and
charge in coulombs (C),
0
c
Coulombs law and the Principle of Superposition
constitute the physical input for electrostatics.
The force on any one charge due to a collection of
other charges
is the vector sum of the forces due to each individual
charge.
=
i
i
F F
Problem Solving Strategies:
1. 1.Draw a clear diagram of the situation. Be sure
to distinguish between the fixed external charges and
the charges which the forces must be found. The
Diagram should contain the coordinate axes for
reference.
2. 2.Electric force is a vector quantity; when many
forces are present the net force is a vector sum.
3. 3.Search for symmetries in the distribution of
charges that give rise to the electric force. When
Symmetries are present, the net force along certain
directions will be zero.
Example: Consider three point charges
q
1
= q
2
= 2.0 C and q
3
= 3 C which are placed as
shown. Calculate the net force on q
1
and q
3
.
The force on q1 is F1 = F12 + F13.
Similarly, F3 = F31 + F32
Electric Field.
Electric field is defined as the electric force per unit
charge. The direction of the field is taken to be the
direction of the force it would exert on a positive test
charge. The electric field is radically outward from a
positive charge and radically in toward a negative point
charge. The electric field can be defined by measuring
the magnitude and direction of the electric force F on a
test charge q0. A small test charge is used so as not to
interfere with the field distribution of the other charges.
Thus we define the electric field as
0 0
lim
0
q
q
F
E
\



.

\

= i E
I
3
0
4 r tc
p
E =
y r ~
3
0
4 y tc
p
E =
The electric field decreases with r as 1/r
3
.
Finally,
.If r >>L, then
And
Electric Dipole Field:
Charge Distributions:
The simplest kind of charge distribution is an isolated point
charge (i.e., an amount of charge covering such a small region
of space that we need not be concerned about its dimensions).
When the finite size of the space occupied by a collection of
charges must be considered, it is useful to consider the density
of charge. The word density is used is used in three different
ways.
(rho) for the charge per unit volume, the volume density
(sigma) for the charge per unit area, the area density
(lambda) for the charge per unit length, the linear density
Thus we can write
1 2 3
Cm
dl
dq
, Cm
dA
dq
, cm
dV
dq
= = o =
Find the electric field a distance z above the midpoint of a
straight line segment of length 2L which carries a uniform line
charge .
(Model of a transmission line). It is advantageous to chop
the line
up into symmetrically placed pairs
(at x).
Here where q is the total charge on the rod
The horizontal components of the two fields cancel.
The net field of the pair is
Here , and x runs from 0 to L
L
q
2
=
u
tc
cos
4
1
2
2
0

.

\

=
r
dx
dE
2 2
cos
x z
z
r
z
+
= = u
( )
2 2
0
0
2 2 2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
4
2
2
4
1
L z z
L
x z z
x z
dx
x z
z
E
L
L x
x
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
=
}
=
=
tc
tc
tc
( )
dx
x z
z
E
L x
x
}
=
=
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
tc
How to evaluate this integral
( )
}
+
2 / 3
2 2
x z
dx
Consider
( ) u u
2 2 2 2 2 2
sec 1 tan z z z x = + = +
u tan z x =
Let then
and
u ud z dx
2
sec =
Substitute these into the integral:
( ) ( )
c
z
d
z
d
z
z
d z
x z
dx
+ = = = =
+
} } } }
u u u u
u
u
u u
sin
1
cos
1
sec
1 1
sec
sec
2
2
2 2 / 3
2 2
2
2 / 3
2 2
2 2
sin
z x
x
+
= u
From diagram,
( )
2 2
2 2 / 3
2 2
1
z x
x
z
x z
dx
+
=
+
}
Hence
Hence Substitute the limits x = 0 and x = L to get the
desired answer.
For points far from the line ( z >> L), this result simplifies to
2
0
2
4
1
z
L
E
tc
~
L q 2 =
The line looks like a point charge
, so the field reduces to that of a
point charge
( )
2
0
4 / z q tc
Find the electric field a distance z above one end of a straight
line segment of length L, which carries a uniform line charge .
(Model of a transmission line)
( )
2 2
0
0
2 2
2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2 2 2
0
2
0
4
1 1
4
1
1
4
1
cos ; ; cos
4
1
L z
L
z
x z
x
z
z
dx
x z
z
r
z
x z r
r
dx
E
L x
x
L
L x
x
z
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
=

.

\

= + = =
=
=
=
=
}
}
tc
tc
tc
u u
tc
( )
(
(
+
=
(
(
+
=
+
= =
=
=
} }
2 2
0
0
2 2
0
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
0
2
0
1 1
4
1 1
4
1
4
1
sin
4
1
L z
z
x z
x z
xdx
r
dx
E
L x
x
L L
x
tc
tc
tc
u
tc
(
(


.

\

+
+


.

\

+
= z x 1
4
1
2 2 2 2
0
L z
L
L z
z
z
E
tc
Net electric field E = Ex + Ez
For z >> L and
L q =
z
4
1
2
0
z
L
E
tc
2
=
u
tc
cos
4
1
2
0
}
=
r
dl
E
z
r
z
z R r = + = u cos ;
2 2 2
( )
}
+
= dl
R z
z
E
z
2 / 3
2 2
0
4
1
tc
R dl t 2 =
}
(both constants)
But
( )
( )
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
R z
z R
E
z
+
=
t
tc
Find the electric field a distance z above the center of a flat
circular disk of radius a, which carries a uniform surface
density, .
(Models an electrostatic microphone)
A typical element is a ring of radius r and thickness dr, which has
an area .
o
rdr dA t 2 =
The charge density on the disk is
( )
2
/ a q t o =
The charge on the element is:
2 2
2
2
a
qrdr
rdr
a
q
dA dq = = = t
t
o
The electric field at P produced by this ring is
( ) ( )
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2 / 3
2 2
0
2
4
1
4
1
r z
rdr
a
qz
dq
r z
z
dE
+
=
+
=
tc tc
Since we have expressed a positive ring thickness as dr, we sum
the rings from the center toward the edge. That is, the radius
ranges from 0 to a.
( )
dr
r z
r
a
qz
E
a
}
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2
4
1
tc
( )
dr
r z
r
a
qz
E
a
}
+
=
0
2 / 3
2 2
2
0
2
4
1
tc
2 2
r z u + = Let
then du = 2r dr, and
( )


.

\

+
=
= =
+
+
+ =
=
} }
z
a z
/
u
u
du
dr
a z
r
a z
z
a z u
z u
a
1 1
2
2 1
2
2 2
2 / 1
2 / 3
0
2 / 3
2 2
2 2
2
2 2
2


.

\

+
=
2 2
2
0
1
4
2
a z
z
a
q
E
tc
So
2
0
4
2
a
q
E
tc
~
When z << a,
When z << a,
2
0
4
1
z
q
E
tc
=
Electric Flux
The concept of electric flux is useful in association with Gauss
' law. The electric flux through a planar area is defined as the
electric field times the component of the area perpendicular to
The field. If the area is not planar, then the evaluation of the flux
generally requires an area integral since the angle will be
continually changing.
When the area A is used in a vector operation like this, it is
understood that the magnitude of the vector is equal to the area
and the direction of the vector is perpendicular to the area.
Gaussian Surface:
Part of the power of Gauss' law in evaluating electric fields is that
it applies to any surface. It is often convenient to construct an
imaginary surface called a Gaussian surface to take advantage
of the symmetry of the physical situation.
Conductor at Equilibrium
For a conductor at equilibrium:
1. The net electric charge of a conductor resides entirely on
2. its surface. (The mutual repulsion of like charges from
Coulomb's Law demands that the charges be as far apart as
possible, hence on the surface of the conductor.)
2. The electric field inside the conductor is zero. (Any net
electric field in the conductor would cause charge to move
since it is abundant and mobile. This violates the condition
of equilibrium: net force =0.)
The external electric field at the surface of
the conductor is perpendicular to that
surface. (If there were a field component
parallel to the surface, it would cause mobile
charge to move along the surface, in
violation of the assumption of equilibrium.)
Electric Field: Conductor Surface
The fact that the conductor is at equilibrium is an important
constraint in this problem. It tells us that the field is
perpendicular to the surface, because otherwise it would exert
a force parallel to the surface and produce charge motion.
Likewise it tells us that the field in the interior of the conductor
is zero, since otherwise charge would be moving and not at
equilibrium.
Examining the nature of the electric field near a conducting
surface is an important application of Gauss' law. Considering
a cylindrical Gaussian surface oriented perpendicular to the
surface, it can be seen that the only contribution to the
electric flux is through the top of the Gaussian surface. The
flux is given by
While strictly true only for an infinite conductor, it tells us
the limiting value as we approach any conductor at
equilibrium.
surface Gaussian in the enclosed charge
the is surface on the A o
0
c
oA
EA = = u
0
c
oA
EA = = u
0
c
o
= E
and the electric field is simply
Gauss's Law for a Single Point Charge
Gauss's Law applies to any charge contribution, but let us apply it now
to the simplest case, that of a single point charge q.
Construct a spherical Gaussian surface of radius r around the
charge q. Take a small area on the Gaussian surface. The area
vector dA points radially outward, as does the electric field
vector at this point. Therefore, the electric flux through this small
area is
From the spherical symmetry, all of such small area elements
contribute equally to the total.
According to Gauss's Law,
because = q. Solving for the electric field gives
which is just Coulomb's Law!
A Uniformly Charged Solid Sphere
An insulating sphere of radius R has a total charge q uniformly
distributed throughout its volume. We want to find the electric
field everywhere, that is, at an inside point r < R, and also at an
outside point r > R.
For the case where r < R:
We construct a spherical
Gaussiansurface of radius r and
apply Gauss's Law.
We already know that for a spherically symmetric case,
We have to be careful about qenc, though. qenc is the net charge within the Gaussian
surface, not the total charge q of the entire sphere. For this reason, we need to multiply
the total charge by the ratio of the volume of the Gaussian surface to the volume of
the entire sphere:
Therefore,
For the case where r > R:
We construct a spherical
Gaussian surface through
an outside point r > R, and
apply Gauss's Law. In this
case,
The graph below is of the magnitude of the electric field due to a
uniformly charged sphere, plotted as a function of distance from
the center of the sphere.
Electric Field for a Charged Sheet
What is the electric field due to a large, thin charged
sheet made of some no conducting material?
We construct a cylindrical Gaussian surface, and place
it symmetrically in the charged sheet as shown in the
above figure. Let the area of each top surface of the \
cylinder be A, and the surface charge density on the
sheet be o.
Applying Gauss's Law to this cylindrical Gaussian
surface gives
and we note qenc = oA.
Therefore,
Electric Field between Capacitor Plates
Consider two large, parallel conducting plates, one with a
charge density + o and the other with charge density  o.
The two opposite charges are attracted to the inside of the
plates, as shown. We construct a cylindrical Gaussian surface,
with one base area within a conducting plate and another base
between the plates. If the area of each base is A, then we have
where E is the electric field at the base located between
the parallel plates, since E = 0 on the base inside the
conductor plate. Then, we have
Electric Field Due to a Line Charge
Consider an infinitely long straight line charge with
linear charge density , which is in units of Coulombs
per meter.
Choose a cylinder because it mimics the symmetry of the
wire. We construct a cylindrical Gaussian surface of radius r
and length L. The electric flux about this Gaussian surface is
Therefore,
Question:
Find the electric field at all points due to a long, solid cylinder of
radius R and uniform charge density .
Answer B
Begin by choosing an appropriate Gaussian surface: one that
mimics the symmetry of the case. Therefore, since we are
concerned with a long cylinder, we choose a Gaussian surface
that is also a long cylinder.To find the field everywhere, we need
to examine two cases: when the radius r of the Gaussian surface
is less than R, and when r > R.
Case I: r < R
We note that the electric field will be constant everywhere on the
cylindrical Gaussian surface; we also note that this surface has
a surface area of 2 trL. Thus, Gauss's Law becomes
The uniform charge density of the cylinder is . Therefore, the
enclosed charge qenc is simply times the volume enclosed by
the Gaussian surface, tr2L. This gives us
Therefore, for r < R,
Case II: r > R
Again, the electric field will be constant everywhere on the
cylindrical Gaussian surface, and the surface area of that
surface is still 2 trL. With r > R, the entire cylinder is enclosed,
so qenc is equal to the uniform charge density times the volume
of the charged cylinder, tR2L. This gives us
Therefore, for r > R,
To summarize, here is a plot of the electric field
versus the radius r of the Gaussian surface for this problem:
A Uniformly Charged Sphere
Question
Use Gauss's Law to find the electric field everywhere due to a
uniformly charged insulator shell, like the one shown below.
The shell has a total charge Q, which is uniformly distributed
throughout its volume.
(a) What is the charge on the inner surface of the conductor?
(b) What is the charge on the outer surface of the conductor?
(c) Use Gauss's Law to find the electric field for radius r < a.
(d) Use Gauss's Law to find the electric field for radius a < r < b.
(e) Use Gauss's Law to find the electric field for radius r > b.
Answer
We need to look at this problem in three parts: one, for when
the radius ; for when a < r < b, and for when
.
No charge is enclosed in this case that is, qenc = 0. Therefore,
the flux through the Gaussian surface must be zero, and so
the electric field
= 0 everywhere in this region.
:
Here, the charge enclosed is found by multiplying the total charge
Q by the ratio of the volume of charge enclosed by the Gaussian
surface to the volume of the entire charged shell:
We recall that
and as the electric field will be constant everywhere on the
spherical Gaussian surface, we can substitute as follows:
Therefore,
III.
:
Here, q
enc
is Q, so we have
Again, since the electric field will be constant at every point on
the spherical Gaussian surface, we have
Which becomes
To summarize our findings, here is a plot of the electric field as
a function of the radius of the Gaussian surface:
Potential Energy, Work, and the Electric Field:
The potential energy difference can be defined as the negative
of the work
B A
W
done by a conservative force F on an object moved from point
A to point B.
}
= = = A
B
A
B A A B
d W U U U l F
where dl is a small element of the path from A to B and l is a
vector from A to B.
Potential Difference:
The electric potential difference from point A to point B is the
potential energy change per unit charge in moving from A to B.
}
= A
B
A
l E d V
B A
In the case of a uniform field,
l E = A
B A
V
The Volt and the Electron Volt:
The unit of potential difference is the volt (V). 1 V = 1J/C.
To say that a car has a 12V battery means that the battery does
12 J of work on every coulomb the moves between its two
terminals.
The electron volt (eV) is the energy gained by a particle carrying
one elementary charge when it moves through a potential
difference of one volt.
1eV = 1.602 1019 J.
Calculating Potential Difference:
The potential of a point charge.
The electric field of a point charge q is given by
2
r
kq
E =
Consider two points A and B at distances rA and rB from a
positive point charge.
The distance between them is rB  rA but we cannot just multiply
this distance by the electric field because the field varies with
position. Instead we must integrate as follows:
} }


.

\

=
(
= = = A
B B
A
B
r
A B
r
r
r
B A
r r
kq
r
kq dr
r
kq
d V
A A
r r
l E
1 1 1
2
What if the points do not lie on the same radial line?
The potential difference is independent of path and one path
between A and B consists of a radial segment and a circular arc.
Since E is perpendicular to the arc, it takes no work to move a
charge along the arc. The potential difference
B A
V
A
therefore arises only from the radial segment.
Defining the potential to be zero at some point allows us to
speak of the potential at a point, meaning the potential
difference from the reference point to the point in question.
For isolated point charges, a convenient zero is infinitely far
from the charge; then the potential at an arbitrary point a
distance r from the point q is
( )
r
kq
V r V
r
= =
Potential difference in the field of a line charge
We know from before that
r
E
0
2tc
=
for field of a line charge
Hence


.

\

=
= = A
} }
B
A
r
r
r
r
B A
r
r
dr
r
d V
B
A
B
A
ln
2
2
0
0
tc
tc
l E
Finding potential differences using superposition:
( )
=
i i
i
r
kq
P V
where the ris are the distances from each of the charges to the
point P.
Electric potential is a scalar quantity, so the sum above is a
scalar sum, and there is no need to consider angles or vector
components
Continuous charge distributions:
We can calculate the potential of a continuous charge
distribution by considering it to be made up of infinitely many
infinitesimal charge elements dq. Each acts like a point charge
and therefore contributes to the potential at some point P an
amount dV given by
r
kdq
dV =
where the zero potential is at infinity. The potential at P is the
sum of all the contributions dV from all the charge elements.
} }
= =
r
kdq
dV V
A charged ring
A total charge Q is uniformly distributed over
a thin ring of radius a. What is the potential
on the axis of the ring?
} }
+
=
+
= =
ring ring
a x
kQ
dq
a x
k
r
dq
k V
2 2 2 2
At the center of the ring,
a
kQ
V =
A charged disk:
A charged disk of radius a carries a total charge Q distributed
uniformly over its surface. What is the potential at a point P on
the disks axis, a distance x from the disk?
Divide the disk into charge elements dq. If a ring shaped
element has charge dq and radius r, then from above,
2 2
a x
kdq
dV
+
=
Then
} }
=
=
+
= =
ring
a r
r
a x
kdq
dV V
0
2 2
We must relate r and dq.
Unwinding the ring gives a strip of area
rdr t 2
o
2
/ a Q t e =
is the total charge divided by the disks area:
.
The surface density
The charge dq on our infinitesimal ring of area
rdr t 2
is
rdr
a
Q
rdr
a
Q
rdr dq
2 2
2
2 2 = = = t
t
o
then

.

\

+ = + =
+
=
=
=
}
x a x
a
kQ
a x
a
kQ
a x
rdr
a
kQ
V
a r
r
a
2 2
2
0
2 2
2
0
2 2
2
2 2 2
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