A conductor (typically, a metal like Cu, Ag etc. or ionic conductors like HCl or NaCl dissolved in water) allows free movement of charges. They have low resistivity 10−8 Ωm as compared to typical insulators like quartz, glass etc. which have resistivity of the order of 1017 Ωm. However, the property that really distinguishes a metal from insulators or semi-conductors is the fact their temperature coefficient of resistivity is positive while that of semi-conductors is negative. • The electric field inside a conductor is zero. In an equilibrium situation, there cannot be an electric field inside a conductor as this would cause charges (electrons or ions) to move around. In the presence of an external field, there is charge separation inside a conductors with opposite charges accumulating on the surface. This creates an internal electric field which cancels the effect of the external field in such a way that the net electric field inside the conductor volume is zero.

− − − − − − − −


+ + + + + + + +

• Charge density inside a conductor is zero. This follows from Gauss’s law ∇ · E = ρ/ As E = 0, the charge density ρ = 0. 1

(This does not suggest that there is no charge inside, only that the positive and negative charges cancel inside a conductor.) • Free charges exist only on the surface of a conductor. Since there is no net charge inside, free charges, if any, have to be on the surface. • At the surface of a conductor, the electric field is normal to the surface. If this were not so, the charges on the surface would move along the surface because of the tangential component of the field, disturbing equilibrium.


Induced Charges in a conductor:
The above properties of a conductor influence the behaviour of a conductor placed in an electric field. Consider, for instance, what happens when a charge +q is brought near an uncharged conductor. The conductor is placed in the electric field of the point charge. The field inside the conductor should, however, be zero. his is achieved by a charge separation within the conductor which creates its own electric field which will exactly compensate the field due to the charge +q . The separated charges must necessarily reside on the surface. Another way of looking at what is happening is to think of the free charges in the conductor being attracted towards (or repelled from) the external charge. Thus the surface of the conductor towards the external charge is oppositely charged. To keep the charge neutrality, the surface away from the external charge is similarly charged.

+ + + + + +




− − − − − −



Example 1 : A charge Q is located in the cavity inside a conducting shell. In addition, a charge 2Q is distributed in the conducting shell. Find the distribution of charge in the shell. What is the electric field in the region outside the shell.

+ + + + + + + + + + +


+ + + + +Q + + + +

Take a gaussian surface entirely within the conducting shell, completely enclosing the cavity. Everywhere on the gaussian surface E = 0. The flux and therefore, the charge enclosed is zero within the gaussian surface. As the cavity contains a charge Q, the surface of the cavity must have charge −Q. As the conductor has distributed charge 2Q, the charge on the outside surface is 3Q. The principle illustrated in the above problem is known as Faraday’s Cage. If a hollow conducting box is kept in an electric field, the charges in the cavity are redistributed in such a way that the electric field inside the cavity is zero. This is used to provide an enclosure for sensitive electronic equpment which must be kept free of external electronic disturbance. Example 2 : Calculate the electric field outside a conductor carrying a surface charge density σ.


∇E = −∇ · (∇V ) = −∇2 V 4 ρ 0 σ 0 n ˆ .E + + + + + + ++ + +++ dS + + r + + σ + + + + + L + + + + + + + + + + Take a gaussian pillbox in the shape of a cylinder of height h with h/2 inside and h/2 outside the conductor.) Poisson’s and Laplace’s Equations Differential form of Gauss’s law. As the field inside is zer and there is no tangential component of the field at the surface. The electric field is normal to the surface. the flux goes out only through the outer cap of the cylider. Lat the cross sectional area be dS normal to the surface. The plates have finite thickness. Exercise : Two parallel. infinite plates made of material of perfect conductor. Show that the charge densities on the two adjecent inside surfaces are equal and opposite while that on the two outside surfaces are equal. The charge enclosed is σdS and the flux is EdS . carry charges Q1 and Q2 . applyinng Gauss’s law E= . ∇·E = Using E = −∇V . The electric field is normal to the surface. (Hint : Field inside the plates due to four charged surfaces must be zero.

• In the region where the electric field is strong. 5 . The conductor surface is. In cartesian form. ρ 0 ∂2V ∂2V ∂2V ρ + + =− 2 2 2 ∂x ∂y ∂z 0 For field free region. the electric field is perpendicular to the surface since the electric field. an equipotential surface. The electric field must therefore be along the normal to the surface of a conductor. being the gradient of potential. the equipotentials are closely packed as the gradient is large. • We have seen that any charge on a conductor must reside on its surface. does not have component along a surface of constant potential. • Electric field lines are perpendicular to equipotential surfaces (or curves) and point in the direction from higher potential to lower potential. therefore. These charges would move along the surface if there were a tangential component of the electric field. the equation becomes Laplace’s equation ∇2 V = 0 Equipotential surface Equipotential surfaces are defined as surfaces over which the potential is constant V (r) = constant At each point on the that ∇2 V = − This is Poisson equation.

If ∆x is the distance between two equipotential curves close to P. Solution : Let the point charge q be located at the origin. z ) = 1 4π 0 q x2 + y 2 + z 2 = V0 = constant 6 .5 kV −1 kV −2 kV P ∗ ∆x φ= 0 The electric field strength at the point P may be found by finding the slope of the potential at the point P. y.3 kV 2 kV 1 kV −0. ∆V E=− ∆x where ∆V is the difference between the two equipotential curves near P. Example 3: Determine the equipotential surface for a point charge. The equation to the equipotential surface is given by V (x.

Equipotential surfaces (magenta) and field lines (blue) for a positive charge. Thus the surfaces are concentric spheres with the origin (the location of the charge) as the centre and radii given by R= q 4π 0 φ0 The equipotential surfaces of an electric dipole is shown below. Electric Field and Equipotential lines for an electric dipole 7 .

8 .axis. showing that the field is stronger near the axis. Since the line charge along the z-axis. The potential due to a line charge at a point P is given by λ V (r ) = − ln r 2π 0 where r is the distance of the point P from the line charge. radius becomes smaller. x2 + y 2 = e − 4π 0 V0 λ 4π 0 V0 λ which represent cylinders with axis along the z-axis with radii r = e− z−axis ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ 2π 0 V0 λ φ1 φ2 As V0 increases. r = x2 + y 2 so that V (r ) = − λ ln(x2 + y 2 ) 4π 0 The surface V = constant = V0 is given by ln(x2 + y 2 ) = − i. Thus the cylinders are packed closer around the axis. Solution : Let the line charge be along the z.Example 4 : Determine the equipotential surface of an infinite line charge carrying a positive charge density λ.e.

therefore. completely enclosed by a spherical cavity of inner radius a and outer radius b.Example 5 : Consider a charged sphere of radius R containing charge q . by taking a Gaussian surface completely in the region a < r < b. the potential is given by V (b) = V (r ) = R 1 q 1 q − 2 4π 0 b a 4π 0 r q q q 1 + − = 4π 0 b R a At r = b. we must have net charge enclosed by such a surface to be zero. Solution : As field inside the conductor is zero. appear on the outside sur. Since the shell is charge neutral. a charge +q must. Calculate the charge density on all surfaces and potential everywhere.Gaussian surface face of the shell. 1 q V (a ≤ r ≤ b) = 4π 0 b For R < r < a. the potential is 9 . this is also the potential at all points from r = b to r = a. For r > b. To compensate for the charge q that exists on the surface of the inner sphere. the field is 1 q r ˆ E= 4π 0 r 2 The corresponding potential is r +q R −q b a +q V (r ) = − ∞ 1 q 1 q dr = 2 4π 0 r 4π 0 r 1 q 4π 0 b Since the field between a and b is zero. the charge on the inside surface of the shell must be −q .

it would not be possible to express the function as average of values at neigbouring points. viz. y = 0. The function looks like the following. which does not satisfy Laplace’s equation as ∇2 V = ∂2f ∂2f + =a ∂x2 ∂y 2 The function has a positive curvature everywhere and there exists a local minimum at x = 0.. To see this consider a function a f (x. If it did. It becomes d2 V =0 dx2 which has the solution V = mx + c The solution shows two important characteristics of the solution of Laplace’s equation. However the inner surface must have a charge −q to keep the field in the shell zero. which are not immediately obvious in higher dimensions. y ) = (x2 + y 2 ) 4 in two dimensions. There is no charge on the outer surface. The first property is the potential at a point can be expressed asaverage of potentials at neighbouring points. R V (0) = V (R) = − a E · dl = 1 1 1 − 4π 0 R a Exercise : Determine the equipotential surface of an infinite plane with charge density σ . 10 . For instance. the potential on the shell becomes zero.If the outer surface is grounded. Laplace’s Equation Let us look at Laplace’s equation in one dimension. the solution has no local minimum or maximum. 1 V (x) = (V (x + x0 ) + V (x − x0 )) 2 This also illustrates the second property of the solutions.

5 9 8.5 4 3. It has a saddle point at x = 0.5 14 13.5 2 1.5 13 12. y ) that satisfies Laplace’s equation a V (x.5 6 5.5 3 2. 11 .5 16 15. y = 0.V(x.5 1 0. on the other hand.5 7 6.5 15 14.5 12 11.5 11 10.5 5 4.5 17 16.5 0 -3 -2 -1 -1 0 1 2 y 3 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 x 0 1 2 3 -3 -2 Consider.5 10 9.5 8 7. a function V (x.y) 18 17. y ) = (x2 − y 2 ) 4 The function has no minimum or maximum and looks like the following.

We would expect the charge to be in equilibrium as it is being pulled equally in all directions. this will not be a stable equilibrium because at the centre.5 3 2.5 1 0. Consider a function V3 = V1 − V2 .V(x. Thus the potential has no minimum or maximum inside the cavity.y) 9 8. i. Laplace equation is obeyed. If the interior of the cavity does not contain any charge.5 -6 -6.5 0 -0. Consider again the case of cavity in a conductor.5 2 1.5 -2 -2. there being no charge density.5 6 5.5 -7 -7.e V1 (boundary ) = V2 (boundary ).5 -3 -3. Thus there cannot be a minimum of the potential V and hence of potential energy QV of the charge at the centre.5 -5 -5.5 -9 -3 -2 -1 -1 0 1 2 y 3 10 8 6 4 2 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10 x 0 1 2 3 -3 -2 An interesting consequence of Laplace equation is Earnshaw Theorem which states that a charge cannot be held in stable equilibrium only by electrostatic forces. Suppose V1 and V2 are two potentials which satisfy Laplace’s equation in some region with identical coundary conditions. suppose we position a charge Q exactly at the centre of a cube which has a positive charge q at each of its eight corners.5 -8 -8.5 -4 -4.5 -1 -1. since the boundary of the cavity is an equipotential. This satisfies Laplaces equation with the condi12 . Further.5 4 3.5 8 7. For instance. the potential inside the cavity is also constant.5 5 4. Uniqueness Theorem : This theorem states that the solution of Laplace’s equation is uniquely determined by the values of potential on the boundaries.5 7 6. Laplace equation is obeyed. However.

We write ∂R 1 ∂ r2 R ∂r ∂r 1 ∂ ∂Θ sin θ Θ sin θ ∂θ ∂θ = l(l + 1) = −l(l + 1) We will not attempt to solve these equations but merely quote the results. For problems with azimuthal symmetry. Pl (cos θ ). ∂V /∂φ = 0 so that we have ∂ ∂r r2 ∂V ∂r + 1 ∂ sin θ ∂θ sin θ ∂V ∂θ =0 The equation above is conveniently solved by a technique called separation of variables where we write the function V (r.tion V3 (boundary ) = 0. Laplace’s Equations in 3-dimensions We will consider the solutions of Laplace’s equations in problems with spherical geometry having azimuthal symmetry. one R(r ) which is a function of radial variable r only and the other a function Θ(θ ) which is a function of the angle variable θ alone. Writing V (r. its value has to be the same value as its value at the boundary.These are polynomials of degree lin cosine of angle θ . V3 is constant. as V3 does not have a minimum or a maximum in the region. The solution of the angular equation is in terms of what are known as Legendre Polynomials. However. The first few polynomials are as follows : 13 . Hence V1 = V2 . we get 1 ∂ R ∂r r2 ∂R ∂r + ∂ 1 Θ sin θ ∂θ sin θ ∂Θ ∂θ =0 Since the two terms on the left depend on two independent variables. θ ) as a product of two functions. The equation to be solved is ∇2 V = 1 ∂ r 2 ∂r r2 ∂V ∂r + 1 ∂ r 2 sin θ ∂θ sin θ ∂V ∂θ + 1 ∂2V =0 r 2 sin θ ∂φ2 where we have explicitly written down the Laplacian operator in spherical polar coordinates. i. this equation can be satisfied only if each of the term equals to constants of opposite sign. θ ) = R(r )Θ(θ ) and dividing throghout by RΘ.e.

The complete solution is ∞ V (r. Let the field strength be E0 and be in z-direction.5 Pl(cos θ) 0 P2 -0. the field is uniform. Let the potential be zero.5 -1 -1 -0.5 0 cos θ 0. is an equipotential. θ ) = i=0 Al r l + Bl r l+1 Pl (cos θ ) (A) We will illustrate the use of these solution by an example.5 1 The solution of radial equation is consists of a power series in r and 1/r . being a conductor. (A) and substituting the first boundary condition. Solution : The sphere.1 P0 P3 P4 P1 P0 (cos θ ) = 1 P1 (cos θ ) = cos θ 1 P2 (cos θ ) = (3 cos2 θ − 1) 2 1 (5 cos3 θ − 3 cos θ ) P3 (cos θ ) = 2 0. Example 6 : Consider an uncharged conducting sphere in a uniform electric field and determine the potential at all points in space. Far from the sphere. The boundary conditions are : V = 0 at r = R V = −E0 z = −E0 cos θ for r R. + + + + + + − − − − −−−− Using Eqn. we get a relationship between Al and Bl Al R l + Bl =0 Rl+1 14 .

on the whole. are charge neutral. Both conductors and dielectric.9. Thus. These are electrons in the outermost shells of atoms (the valence electrons) which get detatched from the parent atoms during the formation of metallic bonds and move freely in the entire medium in such way that the conductor becomes an equipotential volume. at molecular level).1 Polar and non-polar molecules : A dielectric consists of molecules which remain locally charge neutral. θ ) = i=0 Al r l + R2l+1 r l+1 Pl (cos θ ) For r R. in dielectrics (insulators). However. θ ) = −E0 (r − 2 ) cos θ r The induced charge density is σ=− 0 ∂V |r +R = 3 0 E0 cos θ ∂r It can be seen that the charge density is positive in the upper hemisphere and negative in the lower hemisphere. in case of dielectrics. Carbon dioxide molecule is an example of a non-polar molecule. we get l = 1 which gives A1 = −E0 . the charge centres of positive and negative charges coincide so that the net dipole moment of each molecule is zero. we have ∞ V (r. the outer electrons remain bound to the atoms or molecules to which they belong. In non-polar molecules. 15 . 2. The molecules may be polar or non-polar. Substituting these we get R3 V (r.g.Thus Bl = −Al R2l+1 . we may neglect the second term in bracket and get ∞ Al r l Pl (cos θ ) = −E0 r cos θ i=0 On comparing both sides. In contrast. the charge neutrality is satisfied over much smaller regions (e. Dielectrics A conductor is characterized by existence of free electrons.

which has a dipole moment in the absence of the electric field. 16 . gets its dipole moment aligned in the direction of the field. In addition. the arrangement of atoms is such that the molecule has a permanent dipole moment because of charge separation. A polar molecule. the magnitude of the dipole moment may also increase because of increased separation of the charges. the electric forces cause a small separation of the charges. Oxygen atom When a non-polar molecule is put in an electric field.+8e +6e +8e Oxygen atom Carbon atom Oxygen atom Hydrogen atom +e Hydrogen atom +e +8e In a polar molecules. The molecule thereby acquires an induced dipole moment. Water molecule is an example of a polar molecule.

E=0 E E=0 + − E + A non−polar molecule in an Electric Field A polar molecule in an Electric Field Dielectric in an Electric Field A dielectric consists of molecules which may (polar) or may not (non-polar) have permanent dipole moment. + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Randomly oriented dipole in a dielectric (E=0) + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Polarised Dipoles in an electric field When a dielectric is placed in an electric field the dipoles get partially aligned in the direction of the field. The charge separation is opposed by a restoring force 17 . the dipoles in a dielectric are randomly oriented because dipole energies are at best comparable to thermal energy. Even in the former case.

Free and Bound Charges The charge density of a medium consists of free charges. Thus the source of polarization field is also electric charge. if polarization is uniform. Since the distribution of dipole moment in the medium is not uniform. Clearly. there are surface bound charges given by the normal component of the polarization vector. one can write ∇ · P = −ρb The equation above is obtained in a manner that is identical to the way we derived the equation ∇ · E = ρ/ 0 . the net field is not zero. The absence of the factor o in the equation is because of the dimensional difference between E and P while the minus sign arises because the dipole moment vector (and hence the polarization) is defined to be directed from negative to positive charge as against E which is directed from positive to negative charge. the polarization P is a function of position. there is a net dipole moment of the dielectric which opposes the electric field. Denoting the local bound charge density by ρb . Even in this case. which represent a surplus or deficit of electrons in the medium. Summarizing. ∇ · P = −ρb P · n ˆ = σb We will derive these relations shortly. unlike in the case of the conductors.due to attaraction between the charges until the forces are balanced. The term free charge is 18 . If p(r ) is the sum of the dipole moment vectors in a volume element dτ located at the position r . and bound charges. we have. The opposing dipolar field reduces the electric field inside the dielectric. except that the charges involved in producing polarization are bound charges. the volume density of bound charges is equal to zero. Since the dipoles are partially aligned. Dielectric Polarization Electric polarization is defined as the dipole moment per unit volume in a dielectric medium. However. p(r) = P (r )dτ It can be checked that the dimension of P is same as that of electric field divided by permittivity 0 .

whose position vector with respect to the volume element is r is dV = ˆ 1 P ·r dτ 4π o r 2 P dτ r S The potential due to the whole volume is V = 1 4π 0 P ·r ˆ 1 dτ = 2 r 4π 0 r ˆ 1 ∇( ) = 2 r r 1 P · ∇( )dτ r volume volume where. the valence charges in a metal or charges of ions embedded in a dielectric are considered as free charges. The dipole moment of the volume element is P dτ . The total charge density of a medium is a sum of free and bound charges ρ = ρ f + ρb Gauss’s Law takes the form ∇·E = Potential due to a dielectric Consider the dielectric to be built up of volume elements dτ . we have used Use the vector identity ∇ · (Af (r )) = A · ∇f (r ) + f (r )∇ · A Substituting A = P and f (r ) = 1/r . For instance.used to denote any charge other than that due to polarization effect. 19 . ρ 0 = ρf + ρ b 0 The potential at a point S.

The second term is the potential due to a volume charge density ρb given by ρb = − ∇ · P The potential due to the dielectric is. given by V = and the electric field E = −∇V 1 = 4π 0 σb r ˆ 1 dS + 2 r 4π 0 ρb r ˆ dτ 2 r 1 4π o σb dS 1 + r 4π 0 ρb dτ r surf ace vol surf ace vol Electric Displacement Vector D The electri displacement vector D is defined by D= 0E +P which has the same dimension as that of P . therefore. V = 1 4π 1 P · dS − r 4π 0 1 ∇ · P dτ r o surf ace vol The first term is the potential that one would expect for a surface charge density σb where σb = P · n ˆ where n ˆ is the unit vector along outward normal to the surface.P 1 1 ∇ · ( ) = P · ∇( ) + ∇ · P r r r we get V = 1 4π o 1 P ∇ · ( )dτ − r 4π vol o vol 1 ∇ · P dτ r The first integral can be converted to a surface integral using the divergence theorem giving. The equation satisfied by D is 20 .

r 21 . Find the electric field both outside and inside the dielectric. The field inside the dielectric is given by Gauss’s law. The space in the region between r = a and r = b is filled with a dielectric hasving polarization P = k r ˆ.∇·D = 0∇ · E + ∇ · P = ρ − ρ b = ρf which is the differential form of Gauss’s law for a dielectric medium. Example 5: An uncharged spherical dielectric has polarization vector given by P = kr . Example 6 : Consider a spherical dielectric shell of inner radius a and outer radius b. 4πr 2 E = which gives E= rρb kr =− 30 0 Qencl 0 = 4πr 3 ρb 30 The field outside is zero. The volume integral can be converted to a surface integral using the divergence theorem. Integrating over the dielectric volume. Determine the field inside and outside the shell. The volume charge density is ρb = −∇ · P = −k ∇ · r = −3k . Solution : The dielectric has both bound surface charge and volume charge. The surface charge density is σb = P · n ˆ = kR where R is the radius of the sphere. which gives D · dS = Q f surf ace Thus the flux over the vector D over a closed surface is equal to the free charged enclosed by the surface. ∇ · Ddτ = volume volume ρf dτ = Qf where Qf is the free charge enclosed in the volume.

Only on the surface. For a Gaussian surface outside. We have σb = P · n ˆ = P cos θ where θ is the angle between the direction of the external field (zdirection) and a point on the sphere. For a < r < b. Example 7 :Electric Field Due to Uniformly polarized sphere : Since the polarization is uniform. once again. the total charge enclosed can be similarly calculated to be zero. hence the field is zero. the charges enclosed by a Gaussian surface are the surface bound charges on the inner surface and the volume charge within the region. so that field is zero.Solution : The charge densities are. no charge is included. outer −surf ace σb =P ·n ˆ= k b k a inner −surf ace σb = −P · n ˆ=− k r2 For r < a. Hence Laplace’s equation is satisfied both in the interior of 22 . Thus ρb = −∇ · P = − r Q encl = 4πb σ + a 2 in ρb 4πr 2 dr r = −4πa 2k a a = −4πka + 4πk (a − r ) = −4πkr + (−k/r 2 )4πr 2 dr Thus E = −(k/ 0 r )ˆ r . P ^ z ^ n θ This is. the bound charge density is zero. there are bound charges. a problem with azimuthal symmetry with no charges inside or outside the sphere.

θ ) = Bl = Al R2l+1 At r = R. for r > R. 2B1 P + A1 = 3 R 0 Using B1 = A1 R3 . ∂V above ∂V below σ − =− ∂r ∂r 0 Thus. ∞ − l=0 P cos θ Bl − Al r l−1 Pl (cos θ ) |r=R = − l +2 r 0 Comparing both sides. θ ) = 0 and B1 = P R3 /3 0 Finally. we get P r cos θ for r < R 30 P R3 = cos θ for r > R 3 0 r3 23 . the second term must vanish since the potential cannot become infinity at the origin. Hence. We get. Similarly. θ ) = Al r l Pl (cos θ ) and. we see that only l = 1 term is non-zero. for r > R Bl Pl (cos θ ) r l+1 At r = R.the sphere and outside. the first tem must vanish as the potential must be well defined at large distances. ∞ V (r. V (r. the potential is continuous. σ above below − En = n En ˆ 0 Using E = −∇V . while the tangential component of the field is continuous. For r < R. the normal component has a discontinuity. θ ) = l=0 Al r l + Bl r l+1 Pl (cos θ ) For r < R. we get A1 = P/3 V (r. V (r.

The electric field inside the sphere is uniform and is equal to −∇V = −P/3 0 z ˆ. the electric polarization P is found to be directly proportional to the external electric field E . located at the centre. V = P R3 cos θ 3 0 r2 3p/4πR3 R3 = cos θ 30 r2 1 p cos θ = 4π 0 r 2 ˆ 1 p·r = 4π 0 r 2 Constitutive Relation Electric displacement vector D helps us to calculate fields in the presence of a dielectric. For a weak to moderate field strength. Using differential form of Gauss’s law for D. Capacitance filled with Dielectric If a material of dielectric constant κ is inserted between the plates of a capacitor. We define Electric Susceptibility χ through P = 0 χE so that D = = +P o (1 + χ)E = 0E 0 rE = E where κ ≡ r = 1 + χ is called the relative permittivity or the dielectric constant and is the permittivity of the medium. except that the field strength is reduced by a factor equal to the dielectric constant κ. because. we get ρf 1 ∇·E = ∇·D = Thus the electric field produced in the medium has the same form as that in free space. 24 . the potential has the same form as that of a giant dipole with dipole moment equal to volume of the sphere times the polarization vector. This is possible only if a relationship between E and D is known. Outside the sphere.

(b) potential difference across the capacitor plates. Example : The parallel plates of a capacitor of plate dimensions a × b and separation d are 25 . The charging batteries are then disconnected. (c) surface charge density (d) the electric field and (e) displacement vector . i.5 × 10−6 C/m2 .8 × 105 volts/meter 0 The electric field strength is reduced to 1. It is given by D = σ = 2. (e) The displacement vector remains the same in both cases as the free charge density is not altered. giving a surface charge density of 2. (b) Potential difference between the plates before insertion is given to be 1000 V. Solution : (a) The capacitance before insertion of the dielectric is C= 0 2 A = 8. Example: A parallel plate capacitor with plate separation 3. Determine (a) the capacitance . A dielectric sheet with the same thickness as that of the separation between the plates and having a dielectric constant of 2 is then inserted between the capacitor plates. 500 V. (c) The charge on each capacitor plate was Q = CV = 5 × 10−6 coulomb. φ −→ Thus the capacitance C= Q φ φ κ   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢  ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢¡    ¢   ¢¡ ¢¡ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ¡ ¢ ¢   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢¡   ¢  ¢¡ +Q κ −Q increases by a factor κ. On introducing the dielectric it becomes half.the field E is reduced by a factor κ.85 × 10−12 = 5 × 10−9 F d 3.54 × 10−3 After the insertion the capacitance doubles and becomes 10−8 F.e. before and after the insertion of the dielectric .54mm and area 2m 2 is initially charged to a potential difference of 1000 volts.5 × 10−6 C/m2 .4 × 105 volt/meter on insertion. The potential between the plates also reduces by the same factor κ. (d) The electric field strength E is given by σ E= = 2. The free charge density remains the same on introduction of the dielectric.

Since the capacitance of the part of the capacitor occupied by the dielectric is increased by a factor κ. so that F = dU dx 26 . Calculate (a) the capacitance and (b) the force on the dielectric. C= 0 b [x + (a − x)κ] d The energy stored in the capacitor is U= 1 Q2 Q2 d = 2C 2 b 0 x + (a − x)κ Let F be the force we need to apply in the x-direction to keep the dielectric in place. For an infinitisimal increment dx of x. the potential difference between the plates will change while the charge remains the same. we have to do an amount of work F dx . which will increase the energy strored in the field by dU . the effective capacitance is due to two capacitances in parallel . A dielectric slab of relative permittivity κ is inserted between the plates of the capacitor such that the left hand edge of the slab is at a distance x from the left most edge of the capacitor. y−axis a b d x−axis x Force z−axis Solution : Since the battery is disconnected.charged to a potential difference φ and battery is disconnected.

However. the potential φ does. Thus F = dQ2 κ−1 2b 0 [x + (a − x)κ]2 Since κ > 1. Since the initial potential difference φ is given by Q/C . we have 1 2 cφ 2 Q = Cφ U = 27 dQ dU −φ dx dx . what would be the force if the battery remained connected ? Solution : If the battery remained connected Q does not remain the same. explicitly take into account the work done by the battery in computing the total energy of the system. This means the electric field pulls the dielectric inward so that an external agency has to apply an outward force to keep the dielectric in position. Thus U = F dx + φdQ which gives F = Since φ is constant. The force with which the capacitor pulls the dielectric in has the same magnitude.. It may be realised that the force exerted on the dielectric in a particular position depends on the charge distribution (of both free and bound charges) existing in that position and the force is independent of whether the battery stays connected or is disconnected. one must. keeping the charge Q constant. in order to calculate the force with battery remaining connected. φdQ where dQ is the extra charge supplied by the battery to keep the potential constant. Example 22 : In the above example. one the work done by the external agency F dx and the other the work done by the battery. one can express the force in terms of this potential F = 0b 2d φ2 (κ − 1) This is the force that the external agency has to apply to keep the left edge of the dielectric at x. The battery must do work to keep the potential constant. F is positive.the differentiation is to be done. viz. The total energy U now has two parts.

Find the effective capacitance. because we have used linear dielectrics. as before. though.Using these 1 dC dC 1 dC F = φ2 − φ2 = − φ2 2 dx dx 2 dx (Note that if the work done by the battery were negnected. the direction of F will be wrong. turns out to be correct !) In the previous example. κ κ 1 2 d1 d2 Solution : 28 . Thus F is positive. as shown. we have seen that C= giving b0 dC = (1 − κ) dx d which is negative. the magnitude. accidentally. F = b 0 φ2 (κ − 1) d b0 [x + (a − x)κ] d Example : The space between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor is filled with two different dielectrics.

be the potential difference between the upper plate and the interface between the dielectric and φ2 that between the interface and the lower plate. 29 . We have D · dS = ρf ree = 0 as there are no free charges inside the dielectric. Hence. Contribution to the integral comes only from the faces of the pill-box parallel to the plates and dS1 = dS2 .Take a Gaussian pill-box as shown. We have φ = φ1 + φ2 = E 1 d1 + E 2 d2 D1 D2 = d1 + d2 κ1 0 κ2 0 σd1 σd2 = + κ1 0 κ2 0 Thus the effective capacitance is given by C= Q = φ = σA σ 0 κ κ 1 2 d1 d2 dz dS 1 Let φ1 dS 2 d1 κ1 + d2 κ2 A0 d2 +κ 2 C1 C2 = C1 + C 2 d1 κ1 where C1 and C2 are the capacitances for parallel plate capacitors with one type of dielectric with separations d1 and d2 between the plates respectively. D1 = D 2 = σ where σ is the surface density of free charges.

The outer shell has a charge −Q while the inner conductor has a charge +Q.5R and the other with dielectric constant 2κ from r = 1. Solution : − The electric field is radially symmetric and may be obtained by applying Gauss’s law for the displacement vector D · dS = 4πr D = Q 2 f ree − − + + − − − − + + + + + + − R 1. r < 1.5R to r = 2R. the field is zero.5R + − − − For R < where Qf ree is the free charge enclosed within a sphere of radius r . The fields are radial with the ineer sphere at a higher potential.Example : A capacitor consists of an inner conducting sphere of radius R and an outer conducting shell of radius 2R.5R. The potential difference is calculated by taking the taking the E= 30 . Q D = κ0 4π 0 κr 2 2R D Q = 2κ 0 8π 0 κr 2 For r > 2R. the electric field is E= and for 1.5R < r < 2R. The space between the spheres is filled with two different linear dielectrics. For r < R. the field is zero as the free charges are only on the surface of the inner cylinder. Determine the electric field for r > 0 and find the effective capacitance. one with a dielectric constant κ from r = R to r = 1.

To find the effective 31 .5R Q dr + 4πκ 0 r 2 0 Q dr 8πκ 0 r 2 5Q = 48πκ The effective capacitance is C= 48πκ Q = ∆φ 5 0 Example : A parallel plate capacitor has charge densities ±σ on its plates which are separated by a disance d. 2 As the dielectric is linear.5R Edr 2R 1. which shows that adjacent to the negative plate there is a positive charge density σ/2. The space between the capacitor plates is filled with a linear but inhomogeneous dielectric.line integral of the electric field along any radial line. Thus D = ˆ ıσ . Determine the effective capacitance. 2R ∆φ = = R E · dl = R 1. the displacement vector D is remains the same as it would in the absence of the dielectric. electric field E is given by Thus the ++++++ ____ d 0 distance from positive plate x E =ˆ ı σa 0 (x + d) The field close to x = d is given by E = σ/ 2 0 . The dielectric constant varies with distance from the positive plate linearly from a value 1 to a value 2 at the negative plate. D= 0 κE = 0 1+ x E d dielectric constant κ 1 As the insertion of dielectric does not affect free charges.

resting on the negatve plate. we find the potential difference between the plates by integrating the electric field d σd σd d dx = φ= ln 2 Edx = 0 0 0 0 d+x so that Aσ A0 Q = = C= φ φ d ln 2 The polarization P is given by P =D− 0E = σx x+d The volume density of bound charges. within dielectric = 2φ/3d. + − d/2 d A potential difference of φ is maintained between the plates. this requires a net volume charge of −σ/2 in the dielectric. contains a dielectric of thickness d/2 and of dielectric constant 2.capacitance. This can be verified by integrating over the volume charge density ρb given above. field in empty region = 4φ/3d. given by n ˆ · P = P . Exercise : A parallel plate capacitor of plate area S and separation d. [Ans. bound charge density = 2 0 φ/3d] 32 . As the dielectric is charge neutral. given by ∇ · P = −ρb is found as follows : ρb = −σ d σd x =− dx x + d (x + d)2 The bound charge density on the surface. has a value σ/2 on the dielectric adjacent to the negative plate (x = d). Calculate the electric field in the region between the plates and the density of bound charges on the surface of the dielectric.

(a + b)/2 and b are respectively −σ/2. distribution of surface bound charges and −1 1 1 1 .Exercise : The permittivity of a medium filling the space between the plates of a spherical capacitor with raddi a and b (b > a) is given by = 2 4 0 0 a ≤ r ≤ (a + b)/2 (a + b)/2 ≤ r ≤ b Find the capacitance of the capacitor. C = 8π 0 a a + b 2b bound charges on dielectric surface with radii a. 3σa2 /(a + b)2 and 3σa2 /4b2 ] 33 . [Ans. − − the total bound charges in the dielectric.

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