# Maxwell’s Equations

Matt Hansen May 20, 2004

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3 History 4 Maxwell’s Equations 4. . 8 . . . .
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. . Vector operations Calculus .Contents
1 Introduction 2 The 2. . . . . . Flux . . . . . . Magnetism . . . . . . . . .2 2.6 basics Static charges . Moving charges . . . . .
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If FE is negative. in that it is just a charge which. sometimes with a subscript like q1 or qenc . 0 is a constant called the electric permittivity of free space. which happens only if q1 and q2 have diﬀerent signs. 1C is an extraordinary amount of charge. It may seem arbitary to express k in terms of π. so much so that people use devices that function oﬀ the principles in Maxwell’s equations every day without even knowing it. nor would they be able to state that they dealt with electricity and magnetism. “opposites attract. as its name implies. two negative charges will repel each other. also known as k or Coulomb’s constant. expressed in 4π 0 terms of 0 .” This applies to both magnets and to charges.41418 · 1018 electrons. Maxwell’s equations have many very important implications in the life of a modern person. but it is expressed that funny way for historical reasons that will become clearer later. it simply means the charges do not repel. does not move until it is given the chance to “escape” to the ground. 1 is a constant. it is necessary to understand some basic things about electricity and magnetism ﬁrst. The symbol for charge in equations is q. Coulomb’s Law is remarkably similar to the force of gravitational
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. As children are taught in grade school. Amounts of charge are measured in coulombs. However. chosen rather arbitrarily to be the charge carried by 6. but a positive and negative charge will attract each other. as will two positive charges. likes repel.
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2. 1 q1 · q2 (1) FE = 4π 0 r2 where FE is obviously force due to charges.1
Introduction
If asked. Static electricity is easy to understand. The force of this repulsion is given by Coulomb’s Law. abbreviated C. and r is the distance seperating these charges. most people outside a physics department would not be able to identify Maxwell’s equations. but rather attract.1
The basics
Static charges
In order to understand Maxwell’s equations. k has units of (N · m2 ) / (C 2 ).

the amount of potential energy available per unit charge.3
Magnetism
Ancient Greeks and Chinese discovered that certain types of rock. The 4
. so 1N/C = 1V /m. is 1V = 1J/C. To understand electric ﬁelds. abbreviated amp. had mysterious properties which they could not explain. Then. That is equivalent to 1V = N · m/C. or A. called loadstones. 1J of work will be done. and k is replaced with a new constant. ﬁelds move away from a positive charge and toward a negative charge. it is useful to deﬁne electric ﬁelds. Because of this. abbreviated V . which is the same other than that charge is replaced by mass. by dividing out charge q. g. The units on E are Newtons per coulomb. Electric ﬁelds are measured in Newtons per coulomb.2
Moving charges
Imagine that charge was ﬂowing through a conductor at the rate of 1C per second. and is measured in Joules.attraction. work is deﬁned as force times the distance moved perpendicular to the direction of the force: W = F × D. we will have a number that represents the strength of the electric ﬁeld. with the general convention that a point inﬁnitely far away from a charge has an electric potential of zero. Every point in space has an electric potential. but is not as good if a third charge enters the problem. The symbol for amps in an equation is I. with 1J being a force of one Newton applied over a distance of one meter: 1J = N · m. Joules are abbreviated J and are a measurement of energy.
2. That is useful for ﬁnding the attraction or repulsion between two charges. denoted E: E= 1 Q FE = q 4π 0 r2 (2)
Because electric ﬁeld point in the direction a positive test charge would move. This is deﬁned as a current of one ampere. From basic physics. and the units are equivalent.
2. so the deﬁnition of a volt. they are usually expressed in volts per meter. but are not usually expressed like this. Voltage is a measure of electric potential . imagine taking a small positive test charge q and using it to “probe” the force caused by some larger charge Q. If a charge of 1C is moved over a potential diﬀerence of 1V .

pointing outward if the plain is part of a closed surface. and when tied to a string and hung. Mathematically. The dot product. A × B = −B × A. this is going to get rather complex rather fast. is a scalar quantity representing the length of the projection of A onto B when their tails coincide. which makes sense. The north and south poles of two magnets will attract each other. but it is necessary to understand both basic vector operations and some calculus. make a “gun” and point the index ﬁnger of the right hand in the direction of A and the middle ﬁnger of the right hand in the direction of B. Since there are two solutions to this. just like charges.rocks would attract small bits of iron. There are two deﬁned types of vector multiplication: the dot product and the cross product. Instead. and a z. Earth’s magnetic ﬁeld is a bit less than 1G. ﬂow by convention from the north pole to the south pole. Because of the right hand rule. would always point the same direction [2].4
Vector operations
Mathematically. but the north and north poles or the south and south poles will repel. Ay + By . is called a scalar. Magnets have two poles. To apply the right hand rule. Magnetic ﬁeld strength is measured in Gauss (G) or Tesla (T ). written x. labelled north and south.
2. magnetic ﬁelds. denoted |V |. A × B = B × A. A unit vector is a vector with a magnitude of one. z . Vector addition is deﬁned as A + B = Ax + Bx . the dot product is usually calculated with A · B = |A||B| cos θ where θ is the smallest angle between A and B. A vector that is said to be normal to a plain is simply a vector perpendicular to the plain. without direction. 5
. If Vx is deﬁned as the x component of V . Vector subtraction has a similar deﬁnition. written A · B. and Vy and Vz are deﬁned similarly. y. then vector magnitudes can be found by |V | = Vx2 + Vy2 + Vz2 . the right hand rule is adopted to determine a unique solution. a y. The other form of vector multiplication is the cross product. largely analogous to electric ﬁelds. with 1T = 104 G. A × B produces a vector of magnitude |A||B| sin θ in the direction perpendicular to both A and B. Az + Bz . the thumb points in the direction of A × B. and direction. and discovered some of the many properties of magnets that we are familiar with today. A vector is made up of three components: an x. To get a feeling for this. seperated by 180 degrees. Later scientists ﬁgured out that these rocks were magnets. The magnitude of a vector alone. A vector represents a magnitude (length).

x.5
Calculus
The derivative of a changing quantity is deﬁned as the instantaneous rate at which it is changing.2. this would be equivalent to the slope of the line drawn tangent to the graph at any given time. is deﬁned as φB =
closed surface
B · dA. If no limits are speciﬁed. and adding the areas of all such rectangles in the interval [a. φB . φE . are deﬁned as the amount of “ﬂow” of the electric (or magnetic) ﬁeld through a certain amount of area. note that x d d f (t)dt = f (x) dx = f (x). Remember that an integral is the sum of all of many very tiny contributions. a mathematical one might make more sense. equivalently. which is denoted .
closed surface
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. The
b
integral of the function f (x) between a and b would be written
a
f (x)dx. Also. dx 0 dx
2. While that may not be the most coherent deﬁnition. which is actually the exact opposite of a derivative. If the quantity were graphed with respect to time. Let dA be a vector normal to a closed surface (such as a sphere). written φE and φB respectively (B is the letter used for magnetic ﬁelds). the integral gives a function which can be used to ﬁnd the value of an equivalent integral with limits. Electric ﬂux.
The dx indicates that we are multiplying the value of f(x) at each value of x by some inﬁnitely small value dx to ﬁnd the area of some inﬁnitely small rectangle of height f (x) and width dx. rather than just giving a value. b] to ﬁnd the area under the curve of f (x) between a and b. and magnetic ﬂux. which is placed in space. is simply the
closed surface
integral over all regions on the closed surface. electric and magnetic ﬂux. The closed surface integral.6
Flux
Finally. The derivative of a quantity x with respect to time t d dx or. a real discussion of Calculus would take many pages. Since that deﬁnition is confusing. The integral of a function or quantity is written dt dt is the same as taking the sum of the given quantity over all values in the range speciﬁed. and that a derivative is the instantaneous rate of change of a quantity. is deﬁned as φE = E · dA.

Maxwell formulated equations representing the observations of Gauss. advancements began taking place in the ﬁelds of electricity and magnetism that led to the modern theories. Ampere also found a connection between magnetic ﬁelds and current ﬂowing through a wire. Gauss related electric ﬂux to electric charge. and Ampere. He also noticed that there was a logical inconsistency in Ampere’s “law” in that it did not give mathematically consistent results in circuits that contained capacitors. which was the ﬁrst time anyone had realized that electricity and magnetism are connected [3]. Maxwell’s equations were later simpliﬁed into four diﬀerential equations by Heaviside using vectors. Ampere also did his ﬁrst important work in 1820. forming the four laws known collectively today as “Maxwell’s equations” [1]. relating the strength of a magnetic ﬁeld to the current ﬂowing through a wire and the distance from the wire: dB = µ0 i × r 4π r3 (3)
During the next ﬁfty years. In 1785. the ﬁeld changed for good (no pun intended). this is now known as displacement current and represented the ﬁnal piece in the laws of electricity and magnetism. in terms of twenty equations and twenty variables. and in 1820 Oersted noted that a compass was deﬂected by a wire with current ﬂowing through it. Maxwell determined that there was a missing term and worked out what it should be. Biot and Savart developed what came to be known as the Biot-Savart Law. and magnetic ﬂux to magnetic charge. Volta created the ﬁrst battery.
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. In 1800. and Faraday related induced voltage to changing magnetic ﬁelds. When Maxwell entered the picture in 1864.3
History
Near the end of the eighteenth century. all of the “big names” made breakthroughs in the ﬁeld and developed the equations that are used today. Coulomb developed equipment that experimentally conﬁrmed what came to be known as Coulomb’s law (1) [3]. Faraday.

more commonly simply refered to as Gauss’ law. The most common surfaces chosen are spheres and cylinders. ( 0 ≈ 8. Each law is named according to the person(s) who originally discovered the connections represented by the equation.85 · 10−12 F/m). denoted .2
Gauss’ law for electricity
Gauss’ law for electricity. we can’t stop part way through or the equations won’t be valid. while completely valid. the electric permittivity. symmetry makes applying Gauss’ law much easier. are now considered somewhat archaic. because mathematically. any closed surface can be chosen and it will give the exact same results. is taken to be the electric permittivity of free (empty) space. Imagine a point charge of +Q ﬂoating in space.4
4. and have been replaced by the more useful (equivalent) integral forms. We are free to choose our “surface” . states that the closed surface integral of E ·dA is equal to the charge enclosed by the surface divided by the electric permittivity of the material the charge is in. Generally. Here are the four equations: Gauss’ law for electricity: E · dA =
closed surface
Qenc
0
(4)
Gauss’ law for magnetism:
B · dA = 0
closed surface
(5)
Faraday’s law: Ampere-Maxwell law:
E · ds B · ds
=−
dφB dt dφE = µ0 0 + µ0 ienc dt
(6) (7)
Note: is used to specify a closed loop integral. not a real entity.it’s an imaginary construct for the purposes of doing the math.
4. Since the charge 8
. construct a spherical Gaussian surface of radius R. Centered around this charge.1
Maxwell’s Equations
Maxwell’s Equations
The diﬀerential forms of Maxwell’s equations as found by Heaviside. but theoretically. we must go all the way around the loop. It simply means that in the calculations. and is written 0 . also known as a line integral.

4π 0 r2 1 Q . this equation becomes E = 4π 0 R2 From the deﬁnition of electric ﬂux. and E · dA becomes (E)dA. Since in this example. Again from the deﬁnition of electric ﬂux. A. it can be moved outside the integral: φE = 1 Q 4π 0 R2 1 Q 4π 0 R2 A dA
closed surface
φE =
where A is the surface area of the sphere. the E ﬁeld points radially outward and has the 1 Q same magnitude at all points on the sphere. r = R. dA is a unit vector normal to the surface at all points. the surface area of a
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. Since E is constant at all points on the sphere. Remember that E = . φE = E · dA
closed surface
E = φE =
1 Q 4π 0 R2 1 Q 4π 0 R2
closed surface
· dA
Since E is pointing radially outward everywhere. φE = E · dA. However. and represents a tiny portion of the surface area of the Gaussian surface. so applying Gauss’
closed surface
law is a way of ﬁnding the electric ﬂux through a surface due to a charge Q.is centered in the sphere. The closed surface integral of dA is the surface area. it is always parallel to dA.

the electric ﬁeld caused by various charge conﬁgurations can be found for all points in space. this will give a negative ﬂux .they don’t just stop . so their product. It can also be used “in reverse. however. and the ﬂux will have to be the same. and not near the edge. On one side of the surface.the electric ﬁeld is entering the surface! But the electric ﬁeld will have to leave the Gaussian surface on the other side. the results hold true as long as the distance from the plane at which the electric ﬁeld is being calculated is signiﬁcantly smaller than the size of the plane.3
Gauss’ law for magnetism
Gauss’ law for magnetism is remarkably similar to Gauss’ law for electricity in form. we placed outside. but means something rather diﬀerent. An example of this is ﬁnding the electric ﬁeld at all points in space caused by an inﬁnitely large plane of charge density ρ. as predicted by Gauss’ law. is simply Gauss’ law! φE is independent of the radius of the sphere.
4.sphere is simply 4πR2 . Since all the ﬁeld lines that enter the surface must leave again .” by dividing both sides of the equation by A after integrating. the electric ﬁeld will pass through the Gaussian surface. E ∝ 1/R2 . and A ∝ R2 . since E points away from the charge.the net electric ﬂux will be zero. It’s done using a cylindrical Gaussian surface rather than a spherical one. so this becomes φE = φE = 1 Q 4π 0 R2 Q
0
4πR2
But this. it is also possible to prove Gauss’ law for Gaussian surfaces of other shapes. and while the idea of an inﬁnitely large plane is ridiculous. it works because φE is E multiplied by the surface area of the Gaussian surface. Mathematically. Clearly the electric ﬁeld still points away from the charge. no matter how large the radius of the sphere is. the electric ﬁeld will still penetrate it at some point. Imagine that. Using arguments of symmetry. and at some point. such as cylinders. Imagine that a magnet was 10
. creating a positive ﬂux. since E clearly decreases at a rate ∝ 1/R2 . which may seem strange. instead placing a charge of +Q inside the Gaussian surface. φE must be independent of R. of course.

φB = B · dA. The rest of the magnetic ﬁeld lines will leave through the surface from the North pole of the magnet.this portion of the ﬁeld clearly will not contribute to the ﬂux through the surface. The positive ﬂux will equal the negative ﬂux. Pretend that a special magnet with only a North pole. none have ever been observed. Part of the magnetic ﬁeld
closed surface
will not pierce the Gaussian surface . a magnetic ﬁeld passing through an area A will create magnetic ﬂux. this matches what was predicted by Gauss’ law. existed. Remember from the section on magnetism that magnetic ﬁelds “ﬂow. but because the ﬁeld ﬂows from the North pole to the South pole. The same argument applies: any part of the magnetic ﬁeld that enters the surface will have to leave again through the surface. there can be no magnetic monopoles . from the North pole of a magnet to the South pole. since it is closed. there would obviously be a positive ﬂux going through the surface. Imagine that a circular loop of wire of radius R is placed in a magnetic ﬁeld B. because the magnetic ﬁeld is leaving. This would be called a magnetic monopole. it will mean that Gauss’ law for magnetism is incorrect. perpendicular to the direction of the ﬁeld.placed in space. From the deﬁnition of magnetic ﬂux. however. Although some people are looking for magnetic monopoles. Suppose that instead the magnet was placed outside the Gaussian surface. and that a spherical Gaussian surface was constructed around it. they’ll cancel. If a Gaussian surface was constructed around this monopole. The ﬂux through the loop is clearly the strength of 11
. just like the electric ﬁeld lines point away from a positive charge Q. the same ﬁeld lines will enter the surface again somewhere on the surface to go to the South pole. All the magnetic ﬁeld lines would point away from this theoretical magnetic monopole. as indicated by Gauss’ law for magnetism. φB .4
Faraday’s law
According to the deﬁnition of magnetic ﬂux.” by convention.all magnets must have two poles.
4. and it isn’t coming back in! Gauss’ law for magnetism. and no South pole. the net ﬂux is zero. and the net ﬂux will be zero. so it can be ignored. and if one is ever found. Again. Since the ﬂux going out is equal to the ﬂux coming in. very clearly says that the ﬂux should be zero! This means that according to Gauss.

and in the other direction. and hence the change in ﬂux would also be n times greater. would be n times greater. but since changing the area of the loop in real applications is not as practical as changing the magnetic ﬁeld. which is nothing but the perimeter of the loop. and the equation would 12
. when φB through the loop is changing. we can move E outside the integral. As was observed by Faraday. Recall that an electric ﬁeld multiplied by a distance represents a voltage. we had n loops. we have E · ds = − dφB dt
Since E in the wire will always be parallel to ds. and since the mathematics are largely similar. A current will then ﬂow in the loop as determined by the Ohm’s law. dt dφB dB The change in ﬂux with time would be = πR2 . the dot product of the two will turn into simple multiplication. we would be decreasing in potential! From Faraday’s law. V=IR. and simply have the integral of ds. Faraday’s law contains the integral of E ·ds. we would be increasing in potential as we went around. We can go around the loop in either direction and it won’t aﬀect our results other than a change in sign . only the case of changing magnetic ﬁelds will be examined. the “area” enclosed by the loop. 2πR. The ﬂux could dt dt also be changed by altering the area of the loop. instead of having one loop of wire. dφB dt dφB E (2πR) = − dt E ds = − If.but that change in sign is to be expected. since E is not dependent on ds.the magnetic ﬁeld multiplied by the area of the loop: φB = B (πR2 ). because in one direction. Now dB imagine that the magnetic ﬁeld began changing with time at a rate of . while harder to visualize. Consider again the scenario above. a voltage is induced in the loop in an attempt by the system to “ﬁght” the change. Furthermore. The dsrepresents an inﬁnitely small portion of the loop of wire. where R is the resistance of the loop.

if the magnetic ﬁeld points up. if there is a material present instead of simply space. The right hand rule for determining the direction of current goes as follows: point the thumb of the right hand in the direction of the changing ﬂux.become E (2πR) = −n dφB dt
The negative sign in this equation is because of Lenz’s Law. positive charge accumulated on one plate. what is meant is the current that passes through the interior of the closed loop. the thumb would be pointed down.5
Ampere-Maxwell law
Ampere observed that currrent ﬂowing through a wire created a magnetic ﬁeld around the wire. Since the direction of the current is normally determined with a right hand rule. which essentially states that a negative sign is needed in this equation because otherwise it would be possible to violate Conservation of Energy. the thumb would be pointed up. the negative sign can be ignored in the calculations without causing any serious consequences. traversing it with small elements ds. µ0 is a constant called the magnetic permeability of free space. However. or perhaps a shape more similar to a grocery bag .and it will give the same results. is perhaps a deceptive notation. but Maxwell noticed that there was a piece missing. Ampere’s law is used by simply selecting any closed loop. not the magnitude. it only aﬀects the direction of the current that ﬂows because of the induced voltage.a ﬂat disc. and is decreasing.” rather. and negative 13
. He noted that a capacitor is made of two conducting plates seperated by some distance d. It is key to note that any closed loop can be selected . µ0 is replaced with µ for the material. and that while the capacitor was charging. If the ﬁeld were increasing. Ampere’s law predicted the magnetic ﬁeld very accurately. meaning current enclosed. When this is done. and formulated the equation B · ds = µ0 ienc (8)
ienc . the ﬁngers of the right hand will curl in the direction of the ﬂow of current in the loop. and solving the resulting equation. For example. Current can not be “enclosed.
4.

they have even led to research into quantum dynamics. it is possible to explain all known electromagnetic phenomena on the macroscopic scale. This would indicate that there was no magnetic ﬁeld at that point. but that no current passed between the plates. using only the four equations known as Maxwell’s equations. the law would clearly indicate that there was a magnetic ﬁeld at that point! Clearly this could not be. The equations helped Hertz discover and prove the existence of the radio wave. = 0 and the law simply becomes dt Ampere’s law. Einstein claimed that Maxwell’s equations led him toward the discovery of relativity. By introducing the dphie . Remarkably.
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Conclusion
With his ﬁnal addition to Ampere’s law. it was possible to select one closed loop passing through the capacitor. so something had to be missing.the law leaves us free to choose our own closed loop . However.” even though it is not really a current at all. there is a changing electric ﬁeld between the two plates. and many have called Maxwell the greatest scientist between Newton and Einstein. Since charge is accumulating on the plates of the capacitor. such as electronic motors and electromagnets. 14
. so that no current passed through the closed loop. the circuit is still complete. but because of its nature. A capacitor is essentially a “gap” in a circuit. now called the Ampereterm µ0 0 dt Maxwell law: B · ds = µ0
0
dφE + µ0 ienc dt
dφE When there is no changing electric ﬁeld. Maxwell completed the equation. using Ampere’s law to ﬁnd the magnetic ﬁeld at a point in space. and the formulation of the other three laws.and since current ﬂows in the wire.charge accumulated on the other plate. Maxwell completed the theory of electricity and magnetism. However. they are used frequently when designing anything that deals with electricity and magnetism. but rather is the changing electric ﬁeld within the capacitor. another closed loop could be selected for the same point that passed through one of the wires connected to the capacitor . Maxwell named the missing term “displacement current.

electromagnets that can pick up whole cars. Maxwell and his equations forever changed the world in which we live. it is easy to see that they allow for the calculation of theoretical values for a myriad of diﬀerent circuits. including motors.
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.While the equations may be diﬃcult to understand. and capacitor banks capable of storing enough power to run critical equipment for days in the case of a power failure.

02 Electricity and Magnetism Video Lectures. The Princeton Review. http://history. [4] Steven A.edu/OcwWeb/Physics/8-02Electricity-andMagnetismSpring2002/VideoLectures/index. Sketches of the History of Electromagnetics.wikipedia. 2002. http://my. [2] author not speciﬁed. unspeciﬁed. A review of magnets and magnetism. [3] Jeﬀ Biggus.htm.htm. Leduc. 8. 2002-2003.execpc. 2002.References
[1] author not speciﬁed.
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. http://en.org/wiki/James Clerk Maxwell. unspeciﬁed. [5] Walter Lewin.hyperjeﬀ.com/∼ rhoadley/magencyc. James Clerk Maxwell.mit.net/electromagnetism. Cracking the AP Physics B & C Exams.html. http://ocw.