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You are on page 1of 2

Dr. Christopher S. Baird

University of Massachusetts Lowell

PROBLEM:

(a) For the three capacitor geometries in Problem 1.6 calculate the total electrostatic energy and express

it alternatively in terms of the equal and opposite charges Q and -Q placed on the conductors and the

potential difference between them.

(b) Sketch the energy density of the electrostatic field in each case as a function of the appropriate

linear coordinate.

SOLUTION:

(a) For a simple capacitor, the total energy is given by W = QV. In problem 1.6, we found the

following results.

Qd Q

Parallel plates capacitor: V = and E=

A 0 A 0

1 Q

Concentric spheres capacitor: V =

Q

( ) and

1 1

4 0 a b

E=

4 0 r 2

Q

Concentric cylinders capacitor: V =

Q

2 0 L

ln()

b

a

and E=

2 r 0 L

It is straight-forward to substitute these equations into the energy equation and find the following:

Q2 d V 2 A 0

Parallel plates capacitor: W = and W =

2 A 0 2d

Q2 1 1 V 2 2 0 a b

Concentric spheres capacitor: W = ( )

8 0 a b

and W =

ba

2

V 2 0 L

Concentric cylinders capacitor: W =

Q

4 0 L

ln

b

a () and W =

ln ( b/a )

(b) The energy density is defined as w= 2 E 2 . A simple substitution of the fields found in problem 1.6

0

reveals:

w

Q2 /20 A2

Parallel plates capacitor:

2

Q

w= 2 0 z

2 0 A 0 d

w

Q2 /32 2 0 a 4

Concentric spheres capacitor:

2

Q

w= 2

r 4 Q2 /32 2 0 b 4

32 0

0 z

0 a b

Q2 /8 2 0 L2 a 2

Concentric cylinders capacitor:

Q2 Q2 /8 2 0 L2 b 2

w= 2 2

r 2

8 0 L

0 z

0 a b

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