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Helmholtz Theorem

EE 141 Lecture Notes


Topic 3

Professor K. E. Oughstun
School of Engineering
College of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences
University of Vermont

2014
Motivation
Helmholtz Theorem
Because  
21
= 4(R) (1)
R
where R = r r0 with magnitude R = |R| and where

(R) = (r r0 ) = (x x 0 )(y y 0 )(z z 0 )

is the three-dimensional Dirac delta function, then any sufficiently


well-behaved vector function F(r) = F(x, y , z) can be represented as
Z Z  
0 0 3 0 1 0 1
F(r) = F(r )(r r ) d r = F(r ) 2
d 3r 0
V 4 V R
F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1 2
= d r, (2)
4 V R
the integration extending over any region V that contains the point r.
Helmholtz Theorem

With the identity = 2 , Eq. (2) may be written as

F(r0 ) 3 0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z Z
1 1
F(r) = d r d r. (3)
4 V R 4 V R

Consider first the divergence term appearing in this expression.



Because the vector differential operator = 1x x + 1y y + 1z z
does not operate on the primed coordinates r0 = 1x x 0 + 1y y 0 + 1z z 0 ,
then
F(r0 ) 3 0
Z Z  
1 1 0 1
d r = F(r ) d 3r 0. (4)
4 V R 4 V R
Helmholtz Theorem

The integrand appearing in this expression may be expressed as


   
0 1 0 0 1
F(r ) = F(r )
R R
 0 
F(r ) 1
= 0 + 0 F(r0 ), (5)
R R

where the prime on 0 denotes differentiation with respect to the


primed coordinates alone, viz.

0 = 1x 0
+ 1y 0 + 1z 0
x y z

where 10j = 1j , j = x, y , z.
Helmholtz Theorem
Substitution of Eq. (5) into Eq. (4) and application of the divergence
theorem to the first term then yields

F(r0 ) 3 0
Z Z  0 
1 1 0 F(r )
d r = d 3r 0
4 V R 4 V R
0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1
+ d r
4 V R
I
1 1
= F(r0 ) nd 2 r 0
4 S R
0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1
+ d r
4 V R
= (r), (6)

which is the desired form of the scalar potential (r) for the vector
field F(r). Here S is the surface that encloses the regular region V
containing the point r.
Helmholtz Theorem

For the curl term appearing in Eq. (3) one has that

F(r0 ) 3 0
Z Z  
1 1 0 1
d r = F(r ) d 3r 0
4 V R 4 R
Z V  
1 0 0 1
= F(r ) d 3r 0. (7)
4 V R

Moreover, the integrand appearing in the final form of the integral in


Eq. (7) may be expressed as

0 F(r0 )
   0 
0 0 1 0 F(r )
F(r ) = , (8)
R R R

so that
Helmholtz Theorem

F(r0 ) 3 0 0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z Z
1 1
d r = d r
4 V R 4 V R
Z  0 
1 0 F(r )
d 3r 0
4 V R
0 0
F(r ) 3 0
Z
1
= d r
4 V R
I
1 1
+ F(r0 ) nd 2 r 0
4 S R
= a(r), (9)

which is the desired form of the vector potential.


Helmholtz Theorem

Equations (3), (6), and (9) then show that

F(r) = (r) + a(r) (10)

where the scalar potential (r) is given by Eq. (6) and the vector
potential a(r) by Eq. (9).

This expression may also be written as

F(r) = F` (r) + Ft (r) (11)

known as the Helmholtz decomposition.


Helmholtz Theorem
In the Helmholtz decomposition,
F` (r) = (r)
0 F(r0 ) 3 0 F(r0 )
Z I
1 1
= 0
d r + 0
nd 2 r 0
4 V |r r | 4 S |r r |
(12)
is the longitudinal or irrotational part of the vector field (with
F` (r0 ) = 0), and
F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1
Ft (r) = a(r) = 0
d r
4 V |r r |
0 F(r0 ) 3 0 F(r0 )
Z I
1 1
= 0|
d r + 0|
nd 2 r 0
4 V |r r 4 S |r r
(13)
is the transverse or solenoidal part of the vector field (with
Ft (r0 ) = 0).
Helmholtz Theorem

If the surface S recedes to infinity and if the vector field F(r) is


regular at infinity, then the surface integrals appearing in Eqs.
(12)(13) vanish and these two equations become

F` (r) = (r)
0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1
= 0
d r, (14)
4 V |r r |
Ft (r) = a(r)
0 F(r0 ) 3 0
Z
1
= d r. (15)
4 V |r r0 |

Taken together, the above results constitute what is known as


Helmholtz theorem or the Fundamental Theorem of Vector Calculus.
Helmholtz Theorem
Theorem
Helmholtz Theorem. Let F(r) be any continuous vector field with
continuous first partial derivatives. Then F(r) can be uniquely
expressed in terms of the negative gradient of a scalar potential (r)
& the curl of a vector potential a(r), as embodied in Eqs. (10)(11).

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (18211894)