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University Physics 2 Lecture Notes Chapter 3 (A Very Rough Draft)

Wayne Hacker
Copyright Wayne Hacker 2011. All rights reserved.

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes

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Gausss Law
Introduction to Gausss law

Lets start with an outline of where are: We started with a mathematically statement based on an observational fact that magnitude of the electric charge is a one-over r-squared law. This was known as Coulombs law and the mathematical form was inspired by Newtons law of gravity. Coulombs law states that the force on a charge q1 by a second charge q2 is given by q1 q2 F12 = k 2 = F21 (by Newtons 3rd law) . r Once we had a way of describing the force between two point charges, we then used that to dene the electric eld of a charge q : E F /qtest , where F is the force exerted on a test charge qtest by q . Using the principle of superposition of charges, we then assembled both nite and continuous collections of charges to nd the net eld. By simply summing the nite charges we found the net eld; the continuous charges were rst divided into innitesimal charges and then integrated (i.e., summed) to nd the net electric eld resulting from the collection of charges. Our most common nite collection of charges that we will study in this course are the dipole and quadrupole. Among the continuous collections of innitesimal charges studied were: lines of charge, rings of charge, disks of charge, spherical shells of charge, and solid spheres of charge. Up to this point, Coulombs law has provided us with a method of solving for the electric eld. But Coulombs law has its limitations because moving charges also produce magnetic elds; moreover, the faster the charged particle moves, the stronger the magnetic eld, hence the more Coulombs law fails to predict the forces between the particles. Thus, Coulombs law should only be applied to particles that are at rest or moving very slowly. We now examine a second method that is more general than Coulombs law known as Gausss Law. It turns out that we can derive Coulombs law from Gausss Law, and that Coulombs law is not valid at relativistic speeds (speeds that are a signicant fraction of the speed of light), whereas Gausss Law applies at all speeds. Moreover, for electric elds that have a high degree of symmetry, such as axial or spherical symmetry, Gausss law provides a very simple way to compute the electric eld strength. Because Gausss law is more general, it is also more powerful. It is Gausss law, not Coulombs law, that James Clerk Maxwell used to describe the electric eld, which he then generalized and used to derive his famous equations that still bear his name: Maxwells equations.

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes

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Before we can write down Gausss law we must digress and learn a little mathematics: the ux of the vector eld and how to compute it using surface integrals. 1.1.1 Our approach to Gaussian surfaces

We will restrict our study to three basic Gaussian surfaces: rectangular boxes (for sheets of charge), cylindrical cans (for line charges and for sheet charges), spherical bubbles (for point charges, hollow spheres, and solid spheres). Start with rectangular boxes. Use them to compute the E-eld for a sheet of charge. Then use that result to make a capacitor composed of two charged sheets of equal magnitude, but opposite sign. Next, use a can to compute the eld for a line charge. Use a Gaussian spherical bubble to nd the E-eld of a hollow and solid sphere.


The ux of a vector eld

Denition: The ux of a vector eld is a measure of the ow/penetration of the vector eld through an imaginary surface that is emmersed in the eld. Comments: The word ux means to ow. The word has Latin roots. The surface must be uniquely dened. It can be moving and changing shape with the ow eld, or it can be xed in space. Due to the mathematical complexity of a moving surface that can change shape, we will restrict our use to xed surfaces in this course. In practice, we compute the ux through a general xed surface by dividing (i.e., partitioning) the surface into innitesimally small surfaces of area dA, and then approximating each innitesimal surface with its corresponding tangent plane. It should be pointed out that we dont use the entire tangent plane, which is innite in scope, but rather just a small rectangular portion of area dA that hovers over the actually area dA on the original surface, which need not be at (only approximately at). As will be shown shortly, we then compute the ux through each of the tangent planes. (See picture) To get the net ux through the surface we add up all of the contributions from each of the innitesimal tangent planes of area dA. This is known as computing the surface integral of the ux.

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes

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We will begin our study of computing ux by considering a steady uniform ow eld of a uid, such as water, through a wire that has been bent into the shape of a rectangle of area A. Moreover, we imagine a net stretched tight across the wire frame. Come to class for details and see any handwritten notes (if applicable)


The ux of a the electric eld

Come to class for details and see any handwritten notes (if applicable)


Gauss Law

Consider a collection of charges in space: q1 , q2 , . . . , which cause an electric eld to form throughout the regions of space. Suppose we construct an imaginary closed surface in a certain region of space, that may or may not contain some of the charges. Such a surface is known as a Gaussian surface. What Gauss Law allows us to do is to measure the net ux out of the closed surface and relate it to the net charge contained within the surface. The shape of the Gaussian surface is arbitrary, but it usually takes the form of a surface that exploits the symmetry of the charged object, and hence the symmetry in the electric eld. Gauss Law works best when the eld has a lot of symmetry. That is, in highly symmetrical situations such a cylindrical, spherical, and rectangular symmetries. The two standard forms of Gauss Law: Version 1: qenclosed = 0 Version 2: qenclosed = Comments: A Gaussian surface must be a closed surface. It can be shown that we can deform a Gaussian surface without changing the result, so long as no charge crosses the boundary of the Gaussian surface. This allows use to treat a Gaussian surface as a rubber sheet that we can mold into any convenient shape. Gauss Law relates the ux of the eld lines to the enclosed charge, but it also tells us something about the strength of the charge. The denser the eld lines, the stronger the charge. 1 4k E dA E dA (1.1a) (1.1b)

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes 1.4.1

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Deriving Coulombs law from Gauss Law

Come to class for details and see any handwritten notes (if applicable)


Applications of Gauss Law

Example 1. (Similarity Problem) A spherical balloon has a charge Q > 0 uniformly distributed over its surface. When its radius is r1 , the electric eld at its surface has a magnitude of E1 . If the balloon is now expanded to twice the radius without changing the charge, what is the new magnitude of the electric eld at the surface of the balloon? Solution: given: qtotal = Q, r1 , E1 , and r2 . want: E2 =?. The governing equation for both situations can be found using Gauss law applied to a spherical surface. Since the balloon is spherical and the charge is distributed uniformly over its surface, it follows that the E-eld outside the sphere behaves as if all of the charge were concentrated at the center of the sphere. If we take any sphere of radius r > r1 with center at the same as the original sphere (i.e., concentric spheres), then the enclosed charge will be the same for both situations (i.e., Qenclosed = qtotal ). Moreover, at each point on the surface of the sphere, the E-eld will be perpendicular to the tangent plane of the sphere, so the magnitude will be constant on the surface the sphere. It follows that E = E . Since E is constant on the surface of the sphere, it follows from Gauss law that Qenclosed = 0

E dA = 0 E

dA = 0 EAsphere = 0 E (4r2 ) (1.2)

Q = 40 r2 E ,

where r is the radius of the sphere. The common facts for both situations are: 0 , 4 , and the total charge Q. Rearranging the governing equation (1.2) by putting the common parameters on the right-hand side and the variables that change on the left-hand side, gives Q = const . (1.3) Q = 40 r2 E r2 E = 40 Equating the common parameters through the common link yields
2 r2 E2

Q 2 E1 = = r1 40

E2 =

r1 r2

1 E1 = E1 . 4


For more examples see handwritten notes.

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes

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Gauss Law and conductors

As weve seen in the applications of Gauss Law section, Gauss Law is a very powerful tool for computing the magnitude of the electric eld when the charge on the object/objects have a high degree of symmetry. The reason for the need for a high degree of symmetry is that we have to be able to evaluate E n over the entire Gaussian surface, where n is the outward unit normal vector to the surface. For example, when it came to determining of the magnitude of the electric eld for both the spherical shell of uniform charge and the solid sphere of uniform charge, Gauss Law simplied the surface integral equation to an algebra problem. The key was choosing the right Gaussian surface and knowing the direction of the eld, which required having a uniformly distributed charge. Gauss Law is not just restricted to nding electric elds for charge sprayed uniformly on insulators, it a very powerful tool for determining properties of conductors of any shape. Moreover, it is not necessary that the shape of a conductor have a high degree of symmetry. Denition 1. A conductor is said to be electrically isolated, or isolated for short, if it is not subjected to any external charges. That is, if we dene the object carrying the charge to be our system, then the system is electrically isolated if there are no external electrical forces acting on the system. One such property that we can use Gauss Law to verify is The property of an isolated conductor: Any excess charge placed on or inside of an isolated conductor immediately moves to the outer surface of the conductor. None of the excess charge remains within the body of the conductor. Comment: Notice the word isolated in the above statement, the above claim is not true when there is an external source of current. For example, the wire in your house denitely has an electric current in it, otherwise none of your appliances would work. But the wire is not isolated, it is connected to a power station that is pumping current through the wire. If a charge distribution in an isolated conductor is in static equilibrium, then by denition there can be no acceleration of charges within the conductor. The electrical forces between the charges in the conductor are in balance. From experiments going back to Michael Faraday (the 1800s), we know that if an excess of charge is placed inside a conductor, then there are no measurable currents inside (or outside) of the conductor. Since there are no currents within the conductor, it follows that the charge must be in static equilibrium. Therefore, it must be the case that when an excess charge is placed in an isolated conductor the unbalanced charge causes the freeelectrons in the conductor to move around, thus changing the net electric eld throughout

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the conductor. The shifting of the charges change the eld, which in turn causes the freecharges to move in such a way that they rearrange themselves until a static equilibrium is reached between all of the charges within the conductor. The details of such a feedback system, can be quite complex, but the end result is that the electric eld seeks equilibrium. This adjustment process between the insertion of the excess charge and static equilibrium is known as transient behavior, and it occurs over very short time scales on the of order nanoseconds! The resulting electrostatic eld within a conductor containing an excess of charge is an experimentally established fact that requires no proof. Our goal is to come to a physical understanding of where the charge piles up in the conductor. Since the conductor is isolated, there is no way for the excess charge to escape, so it must remain somewhere within the conductor. Moreover, by conservation of charge, this charge must have the same sign as the initial excess charge, and since a conductor has a large supply of free electrons, it must also be the case that regardless of the sign of the initial excess charge, it will be the movement of the free electrons either towards, or away from, the excess charge that will cause the pile up of excess charge in the conductor. In order to discover the location where the excess charge exists, well need to examine several cases. Suppose that the excess of charge existed in the interior of the conductor. If the excess charge is positive, then it would cause free electrons to ow towards it, until all of the positive charge was neutralized (we are assuming that the excess charge is not so big that it overwhelms the free electron supply). Where will the vacuum of missing free electrons be realized? Could they be in the interior of the conductor? If it were in the interior, then how could we distinguish it from the original one that we inserted, and this process would continue indenitely violating our assumption of static equilibrium. If, on the other hand, the free electrons cascaded towards the positive excess charge, from the outside towards the inside of the conductor, then the chain reaction would end when we reached the edge of the conductor (i.e., the surface of the conductor). One could image this cascade as a three dimensional wave front moving away from the initial excess charge in the interior and stopping when it reaches the boundary (surface) of the conductor. A similar argument could be made if the excess charge were negative, except that there would be a cascade of free electrons towards the surface, rather than away from it. We conclude then that it must be the case that the excess charge exists on the surface of the conductor, since if it were in the interior it would cause a continuous cascade of charge and violate the static charge assumption. Next, suppose the excess charge migrated to the surface of the conductor. And to keep things concrete, suppose the excess charge is negative. Then there would be no place for the free electrons to go, since they cannot break free from the atomic lattice of the conductor. This is similar to what happens at the meniscus of a liquid on the surface of a glass. The electrons would repel one another, but at the same time the nuclei in the atomic lattice would keep the free electrons from ying o of the surface of the conductor. However, there is a limit to how much charge can pile up before the lattice can no longer

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hold the excess electrons. Under the right conditions charge can jump from the conductor to ground, this is known as coronal discharge. It is important to understand that the resulting electric eld is set up by the charges, and not by the conductor. The repulsive force between the similar charges provides the force necessary that causes the charges to move, and the surface restricts their motion. The interior of the conductor merely acts as a medium for the electrons to follow through and plays no role whatsoever in how the electrons arrange themselves on the surface of the conductor. The surface, on the other hand, does play a key role in how the electrons arrange themselves. Since the electrons cannot escape the conductor, they must arrange themselves on the surface of the conductor in such a way as to have no net force on the surface charges. In this way one can think of this problem as an optimization problem: the electrical repulsive force between the charges must be minimized subject to the constraint that the charge remain on the surface. This is a hard problem, and nature solves it in nanoseconds! We can make this heuristic intuitive argument rigorous using Gauss Law. We start with the experimental fact that there is no current in the conductor a short time after the excess charge is introduced into the conductor. If there were an internal electric eld, then it would cause charge (i.e., the free electrons) to ow inside the conductor violating the static equilibrium assumption. It must therefore be the case that there is no electric eld inside the conductor. If we then take any closed Gaussian surface contained within the interior of the surface, then since E = 0 inside the conductor, Gauss Law states that the enclosed charge must also be zero: qenclosed = 0 E dA = 0 .

Thus, the excess charge must exist outside of the Gaussian surface. Since the Gaussian surface can be taken arbitrarily close to the surface, it follows that the excess charge must exist on the surface. 1.6.1 The behavior of conductors with cavities

Consider an isolated conductor C1 with an internal cavity that is hung from an insulating thread. Suppose that we add an excess charge q to the conductor itself, but not inside the cavity. We would like to answer the question: will any charge appear on the surface of the cavity? We will need Gauss Law to answer this question, but rst let us do a thought experiment. Consider a solid isolated conductor C2 that is identical to the original conductor C1 , but without any cavities in its interior. Now suppose that we add the same excess charge q is to conductor C2 , so at this point the only dierence between the two conductors is that C1 has a cavity it its interior, and C2 does not (see gure ???). Now from the previous discussion, we know that the excess charge on C2 is located on the surface of C2 . Thus, the interior of C2 has no charge in it. If we could freeze the charges in place with say

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a special magic plastic tape, and if we cut out a cavity C3 in C2 identical to the one in C1 , then C3 will contain no charge on it. So from the point of view of the electric eld on the new object C1 = C2 C3 , the charge distribution is created from the balance of the forces on the surface and it is unaected when we remove C3 . It doesnt know if the cavity C3 is inside the conductor C2 or not. This argument suggests that there is no charge on the surface of the cavity in the conductor C1 . We can use Gauss Law to justify our suspicions. By hypothesis, the charge on the conductor is in static equilibrium; and as argued earlier, there can be no electric eld inside the conductor. Thus, E = 0 inside the conductor. So if we take a Gaussian surface that contains the cavity and the region surrounding the cavity, but is also contained within the interior of the conductor (see gure ???), then by Gauss Law: qenclosed = 0 E dA = 0 ,

which says that there can be no charge on the surface of the cavity. 1.6.2 The electric eld outsider of a conductor

We have seen that the excess charge on an isolated conductor gathers on the surface of the conductor, not in the interior. However, this does not mean that the charge is uniformly distributed over the surface. Except in the extreme case of a charged sphere, which has a uniform charge distribution, the charge density varies from point to point along the surface. That is, in the general case, = (x, y, z ) = dqtotal /dA. In the next chapter on electric potential well see just how the charge density is a function of the curvature of the surface. We can use Gauss Law to show that the strength of the electric eld just outside of the conductor is (just outside the surface) 0 E= 0 (just inside the surface) To show this we assume that the surface of the conductor is smooth. Let P0 = (x0 , y0 , z0 ) be an arbitrary point on the surface of the conductor (see gure ???). Next, take a closed Gaussian cylindrical surface with P0 at its center. The end caps of the cylinder are parallel to the tangent plane to the surface. Recalling that in order for the charge on an isolated conductors surface to be in static equilibrium that the electric eld lines must be perpendicular to the surface of the conductor. It follows that if we take our Gaussian surface to have small enough lateral walls that the eld lines will be parallel to the lateral walls and perpendicular to the surface of the end caps (see gures ???).

Physics 216 chapter 3 class notes

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The total ux through the Gaussian surface is then E


E dA = nish: need walls, inside, outside