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Ch17 Electrostatics

Ch17 Electrostatics

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Chapter 17 Lecture Notes
1 N-m = 1 Joule
1 N = 1 kg-m/s2
k= 8.99\u00d7109 N-m2/C2
Electric Potential Energy & Potential Differences

Recall that near the surface of the earth, the acceleration of gravity is a constant. This is analogous to saying that the gravitational field is a constant. Therefore, a constant electric field interacts with charge the same way a constant gravitational field interacts with mass. Positive charge plays the role of mass. (BlameBenjamin

Franklin). There is potential energy in gravity, and in electricity. A constant electric field
can be produced with a parallel plate capacitor.
Definition of electric potential
W =Fd(cos\u03b8 )
Definition of Work
Relationship between work and potential
energy for work done by a conservative field.
Potential for a constant electric field.
V =kQ/r
Potential of a point charge
Charge on a capacitor
Parallel plate capacitor
Dielectric Constant
E= (1/2)CV2
Energy stored in capacitor
Page 1 of 9
htt ://facult .salisbur .edu/~ whoward/Ph sics123/html/ch17.htm
n General
The electric potential is not the same as the electric potential energy. It is related to
the electric potential energy by the formula
qV= UE
whereV is the electric potential andUEis the electric potential energy. Note that this is
a scalar so potentials can be added like scalars. The SI Units of Electric Potential is
oule/coulomb = volt (V). (Alessandro Volta \u20131745-1827)

The electric field, like the gravitational field, is a conservative field. That means the work done to move a charged object from one point to another in an electric field does not depend on the path taken, but just on the total displacement. We don't have any absolute reference frame for electric potential, just like we didn't have one for gravitational potential, and like gravity we can only measure changes in potential energy.

(Remember that the symbol\u2206U meansUfinal -Uinitial.)

Also recall that potential energy can only be defined in a conservative field. There is no such thing as potential energy in a nonconservative field. The work done to move a charge in a conservative field, like a gravitational or electrical field is given by:

W =Fd(cos\u03b8 )
In a constant conservative field (like gravity)
W =Eqd(cos\u03b8) In a constant electric field (which is always conservative).

Recall from Physics-121 that we can relate the change in potential energy to work done. For instance, if I hold onto a ball and lower it in a constant gravitational field the work done by my hand is given byWHand =\u2206UG. But the work done by gravity on the

ball when I lower it isWG= -\u2206 UG. The work doneby the conservative field on an object
is always the negative of the change in potential energy.

The book is not precise when talking about work done by a field and work done against a field. On page 506 the author says that the work done by the electric field to move an object fromb toa is given byW =qVba. Note, however, that

W=qVba =q(Vb -Va) =q(Vb -Va) =q(Vinitial-Vfinal) = -q(Vfinal-Vinital) = -q\u2206V.
So by writingVba instead of\u2206Vthe author has subtly avoided using this minus sign. I
write equation 17-2 using\u2206V instead ofVba so I get
\u2206V=\u2206UC/q= -WC/q= -Eqd(cos\u03b8)/q= -Ed
(Note the minus sign).
Page 2 of 9
htt ://facult .salisbur .edu/~ whoward/Ph sics123/html/ch17.htm
The bottom line is that the formulasW=Fd(cos\u03b8),V=UE/q, and
\u2206V=\u2206UE/ q are always
true. But the relationship between the change in potential energy (\u2206UE) and the work done (W)
depends on whether I talk about the work done by the field or by an object against the field. If it

is the work done by the conservative field I getWC = -\u2206UC. But if it is work done by an object against the field, I getW = +\u2206UC. Everything learned about work and potential energy in Physics-121 can be applied in the case of the electric field.

Potential of a Point Charge
The point charge creates an electric potential. We need to use calculus to determine
the potential because the force varies as r changes (not a constant field). We find
Note that this means that the potential from a point charge at an infinite distance away is
usually chosen to be zero, since 1/\u221e = 0.
PROBLEM: Work and Electric Potential: A proton with a
charge of 1.6\u00d710-19C is released from rest in a uniform
electric field of magnitude 8\u00d7104 V/m. After the proton has
moved 0.5 meters:
(a) What is the change in electric potential.
\u2206V= -Ed = -4.0\u00d7104 V
(b) What is the change in potential energy? Many problems in the book dealing
with the work done by the electric field start with this step.
\u2206UE= Uf- Ui= q\u2206V = -6.4\u00d710-15 J.
The sign says that we are at a lower potential. (Again remember gravity).
(c) What is the speed of the proton? We use conservation of mechanical energy.
KEi+Ui= KEf+Uf\u21d2 KEf=Ui-Uf= -\u2206UE
\u2206UE= K = 1/2(mv2). Solve for v and get v2=7.66\u00d7106 m2/s2
v = 2.8\u00d7106 m/s
PROBLEM: How much work does it take to move a charge ofq = -3.0\u00b5C to a
Page 3 of 9
htt ://facult .salisbur .edu/~ whoward/Ph sics123/html/ch17.htm

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