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Medium 1

E1 Et2 Et1

En1

4 Electromagnetic Boundary Conditions


En2 E2

Medium 2

The integral forms of Maxwells equations describe the behaviour of electromagnetic eld quantities in all geometric congurations. The dierential forms of Maxwells equations are only valid in regions where the parameters of the media are constant or vary smoothly i.e. in regions where (x, y, z, t), (x, y, z, t) and (x, y, z, t) do not change abruptly. In order for a dierential form to exist, the partial derivatives must exist, and this requirement breaks down at the boundaries between dierent materials. For the special case of points along boundaries, we must derive the relationship between eld quantities immediately on either side of the boundary from the integral forms (as was done for the dierential forms under dierentiable conditions). Later, we shall apply these boundary conditions to examine the behaviour of EM waves at interfaces between dierent materials - from them we can derive the laws of reection and refraction (Snells law).

Figure 4.1: Normal and tangential components of the electric eld on either side of the interface between two media.

4.1 Boundary Conditions for the Electric Field


Consider how the electric eld E may change on either side of a boundary between two dierent media as illustrated below.

The vector E1 refers to the electric eld in medium 1, and E2 in medium 2. One can further decompose vectors E1 and E2 into normal (perpendicular to interface) and tangential (in the plane of the interface) components. These components labelled En1, Et1 and En2, Et2 lie in the plane of vectors E1 and E2 . To derive boundary conditions for E, we must examine two of Maxwells equations: B dS E dl = S t and D dS = dV
V

which will allow us to relate the tangential and normal components of E on either side of the boundary. Note that refers to the free, unbound change within V , i.e. it excludes the charge bound to atoms.
Normal Component of D

The boundary condition for the normal component of the electric eld can be obtained by applying Gausss ux law D dS =
V

dV

to a small pill-box, positioned such that the boundary sits between its upper and lower surfaces as shown in the illustration.

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Medium 1

from which we conclude


n s dS = n

1 , 1 , l s

Dn1 Dn2 = s For the case where s = 0, Dn1 = Dn2

1111111 0000000 0000000 1111111 0000000 1111111 0000000 1111111 0000000 1111111

Or in terms of the electric eld E, 1 E n1 = 2 E n2 or E n1 =


Tangential Component of E

Surface charge

s
Medium 2

s dS = n 2 , 2 , 2

2 E n2 1

Figure 4.2: Gaussian pill box straddling the interface between two media.

If we shrink the side wall h to zero (keeping the interface sandwiched between the upper and lower surface) then all electric ux enters or leaves the pill-box through the top and bottom surfaces, and s + D2 (n ) s = Dn1 s Dn2 s D dS D1 n

We can derive the tangential component of E by applying Faradays law to a small rectangular loop positioned across the boundary, and in the plane of E1 and E2 , as illustrated in the diagram below.
E1
b

n
a Medium 1

where Dn1 and Dn2 are the normal components of the ux density vector immediately on either side of the boundary in mediums 1 and 2, and s is the elemental surface area. The amount of charge enclosed as h 0 depends on whether there exists a layer of charge on the surface (i.e. an innitesimally thin layer of charge)1. If a surface charge layer exists then dV = s s
V

h
d

1 , 1 , l

2 , 2 , 2
Medium 2

E2 Figure 4.3: To determine the boundary condition on the tangential component of the E eld, Faradays law is applied to rectangular loop straddling the interface between two media.

and thus Dn1 s Dn2s = s s


1

In perfect conductors, any excess free charge always resides on the surface of the conductor and is denoted by s in units of Cm2 . Within the conductor, the charge density very rapidly goes to zero this is discussed in a later section on relaxation time. It should also be noted that in the case of dielectrics subjected to an electric eld, the material polarizes, which does in fact result in a surface charge layer - however this charged layer is bound charge caused by the polarization eect, and is not part of the quantity s .

Consider the limiting case where the sides h perpendicular to boundary are allowed shrink to zero. In the limit as h 0 , the magnetic ux threading the loop shrinks to zero, and thus
b d

E dl
a

E1 dl +
c

E2 dl = 0

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E1 l + E2 (l) = 0 Writing the tangential components of E1 and E2 along the contour as Et1 and Et2 , we have E t1 l E t2 l = 0 from which we conclude that on either side of the boundary, E t1 E t2 = 0 or E t1 = E t2 i.e. tangential components immediately on either side of a boundary are equal.

Normal Component of B

The boundary condition for the normal component of the magnetic eld can be obtained by applying Gausss ux law B dS = 0 to a small pill-box. If we shrink the side wall h to zero, all magnetic ux and leaves/enters the pill-box through the top two surfaces, s + B 2 ( n ) s = Bn1 s Bn2 s B dS B 1 n Equating to zero, we nd Bn1 Bn2 = 0 and hence the normal component of B is continuous at boundaries.
Tangential Component of H We can derive the tangential component of H by applying Amperes law to a closed loop as illustrated below. Again, the rectangular loop is in the plane of vectors H1 and H2 . H1
b

4.2 Boundary Conditions for the Magnetic Field


The derivation of boundary conditions for the magnetic eld, follows similar arguments to that of the electric eld, but using equations B dS = 0 D dS S S t Again we consider the normal and tangential components as illustrated below. H dl = J dS +
Medium 1

n
a Medium 1

h
d

1 , 1 , l

2 , 2 , 2
Medium 2

B1 Bt2 Bt1 Bn2 B2

Bn1 H2 Figure 4.5: To determine the boundary condition on the tangential component of the H eld, Amperes law is applied to rectangular loop straddling the interface between two media.
Medium 2

Amperes law states H dl =


S

Figure 4.4: Normal and tangential components the B eld on either side of an interface.

J dS +
S

D dS t
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Consider the limiting case where the sides h perpendicular to the boundary are allowed shrink to zero. The left hand side becomes
b d

E1

H dl
a

H1 dl +
c

H2 dl
En2

En1 Bt2 Et1 Bn2

B1 Bt1

Bn1

Medium 1

Et2

1 , 1 , l

= H1 l + H2 (l)
D On the right hand side, the displacement current term Id = S t dS shrinks to zero. For physical media, the conductivity is nite, and J is also nite. Thus within the loop Ic = S J dS also shrinks to zero, and so

2 , 2 , 2 B2
Medium 2

E2

H1 l + H2 (l) = 0 which implies the tangential component of H does not change immediately on either side of the boundary, i.e. H t1 = H t2 For the special case of an idealised perfect conductor, , a surface current may exist (i.e. current owing within a vanishingly thin layer on the surface). Some physical situations involving good conductors like metals (e.g. skin eect and reection of EM waves o metallic objects) may allow us to treat currents concentrated on the surface as a surface current modelled by a vector Js in units of Amps/m (NB not m2) owing in an innitesimally thin layer. Js ows perpendicular to our rectangular loop (chosen in the plane of vectors H1 and H2 ), and thus Ic =
S

Figure 4.6: Normal and tangential components illustrated for the cases of the E eld and the B eld.

The boundary conditions are summarised below. Dn1 Dn2 = s E t1 E t2 = 0 Bn1 Bn2 = 0 H t1 H t2 = J s The boundary conditions can be expressed in vector form2 as: D2 n = s D1 n E1 n E2 = 0 n B2 n =0 B1 n

J dS Js l

where Js is the magnitude of the surface current density. We conclude that for the case where a surface current exists, the boundary condition on the tangential component of H is therefore H t1 H t2 = J s

Summary of Boundary Conditions


Below are depicted the components on either side of the boundary in side view. (H1 H2) = Js n
2

These vector forms require careful 3-D visualization.

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These general conditions can be further rened depending on the specic media on either side of the interface. Some examples are given below.

We already know the tangential component must be sketched as Et2 = Et1 . 1 1 The normal component is related by En2 = 2 En1 = 5 En1 . The E2 can thus be sketched as shown below:

4.3 Examples of Boundary Conditions


4.3.1 e.g. Dielectric - Dielectric Interface Dielectrics are materials for which all electrons are bound to atoms, and are non-conducting, i.e 0; no currents ow, and no unbound surface charge exists unless explicitly put there (i.e. s = 0). Thus we have Dn1 = Dn2 or 1En1 = 2En2 E t1 = E t2 Bn1 = Bn2 1 1 Ht1 = Ht2 or Bt1 = Bt2 1 2 An example of a dielectric-dielectric interface is the interface between air and glass. The above boundary conditions are applied when analysing the reection and refraction of plane waves (studied in a later section). For example, consider an air-glass interface where 1(air) = 0 and 2(air) = 50. Given the E1 vector in the air, how can we sketch the E2 vector?
Medium 1 AIR Medium 1 AIR

E1 En1

1 = 0 En2
GLASS

E2

Et2 = Et1

2 = 5 0 , 2
Medium 2

Figure 4.8: E1 and E2 eld at the the interface between two dielectrics.

4.3.2 e.g. Dielectric - Perfect Conductor If one of the media is a dielectric (say medium 1 is air), and the other medium (medium 2) is a perfect conductor 2 , then En2 = 0 and Et2 = 0 inside the perfect conductor3.
3

The conductor is assumed to be stationary within the xyz frame of reference. If a conducting metal object moves through a magnetic eld, a non-zero E eld can exist within the conductor. For example, if a long thin metal rod moves through a uniform B eld with velocity v, the electrons inside the rod experience a force q v B, perpendicular to the direction of motion and perpendicular to B. Electrons deplete on the one side and increase on the opposite side, causing an induced dipole.

E1

B
Rod moving through uniform magnetic field

Fields inside the rod

v vB

1 = 0
GLASS

E2 =?

2 = 5 0 , 2
Medium 2

Figure 4.7: E1 eld at the the interface between two dielectrics.

As the dipole forms, an electric eld builds up until the internal forces balance, i.e. q E = q v B, and the electron current no longer ows. The internal eld strength is E = v B. If the rod is orientated in the direction of v B, then the potential dierence between the ends of the moving rod l is = 0 E dl = vBl where l is the length of the rod. In cases where a metal object is stationary within the frame of reference, the electrons will rearrange rapidly (if placed in an EM eld) such that the internal electric eld goes to zero; the potential dierence between any two points on the conductor will also then be zero.

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Since Dn1 Dn2 = s , we conclude that Dn1 = s Since Et1 = Et2 and Et2 = 0, we conclude that Et1 = 0, i.e. there exists no tangential component on the dielectric side of the interface. In vector form we state the boundary conditions for the eld in the dielectric as = s D1 n and D1 = 0 n The E eld lines always meet a perfect conductor perpendicular to the surface, and magnetic eld lines parallel to the surface as is illustrated in the gure below:
En1 = H 1 = Js n E1 Et1 = 0 E2 = 0 B Bn1 = 0
dielectric e.g. air Medium 1

These boundary conditions are useful for establishing, for example, the charge density or current distribution on the surface of a conductor, when the eld quanties in the dielectric are known or specied. These boundary conditions will be applied when analysing the reection of an electromagnetic plane wave o the surface of a perfect conductor. 4.3.3 e.g. Conductor-Conductor (steady state current)
E For the case of two conductors under static eld conditions (i.e. t = 0 and B = 0), there can be no charge build up at the interface and hence t

J n1 = J n2 Since Jn = En, we have an additional constraint on the normal component of the electric eld, i.e. 1 E n1 = 2 E n2 For non-steady state conditions a more complicated boundary constraint relates J1 and J2 , which can be derived by application of the continuity of charge equation S J dS = t V dV at the boundary. The result is + t Js = (J1 J2 ) n s t

1 , 1 , l

B2 = 0
(AC fields)

2 , 2 , 2 = inf
Medium 2 Perfect conductor

Figure 4.9: E eld and the B eld at the interface between air and a perfect conductor.

For AC elds, no time-varying magnetic eld exists in a perfect conductor B and since E = 0 in a perfect conductor, - why? Recall that E = t B E = 0 and hence t = 0. In other words, no changing magnetic eld can exist in a perfect conductor, and hence Bn2 = Bn1 = 0, i.e. the normal component of the magnetic eld is zero. A surface current can still exist, implying a tangential component of B1 can exist. These two conditions can be expressed in vector form as =0 B1 n H1 = Js n

where t is the two-variable divergence in the tangent plane applied to the s surface current Js , and is the rate of change of surface charge density in t 2 1 Cm s . See [Griths] for details.

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Side View

Jn 1 = J1 n n
Medium 1

1 , 1 , l Jn 2 = J2 n

s
surface charge

2 , 2 , 2
Medium 2

Figure 4.10: Boundary condition for the normal component of J for conductors (for the non-steady state case for which there may be charge build-up at the interface).

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