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Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.1 Electric Fields and Charge Flow

7.1.1 Charge

• There are two types of charges:

¾ Positive charge
¾ Negative charge
• Like charges repel whereas opposite charges attract.

7.1.2 Static electricity

• Stationary electric charges are known as static electricity

• Electrostatics is the study of static electricity

7.1.3 Electric fields

• An electric field is the region in which an electric charge experiences a force

Positive charge Negative charge

Two opposite charges Two like charges

Two non-uniform fields Two uniform fields

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 1 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.1.4 Activity to observe the pattern of electric fields

• When the power supply is turned on, the talcum powder will map the electrical field
• Sesame oil is used because it conducts electricity only at extremely high potential
• The density of the field lines represent the intensity of the electric field

7.1.5 Ping pong ball coated with conducting material

• A ping pong ball coated with metallic point is placed centrally between two metallic
plates connected to a very high voltage source.
• The ball is suspended with nylon string which is an electrical insulator.
• When the power supply is turned on, the ball will not move as it is initially neutral.
The charges on both sides neutralize each other.
• When the ball is pushed to one of the plates, the ball will oscillate between the plates
until the power supply is turned off.

The frequency of oscillation increases if:

• Potential difference of voltage source is increased.
• The metallic plates are closer.

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 2 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.1.6 Flame of a candle

• A candle is placed centrally between two metallic plates connected to a high voltage
power source.
• The candle flame splits into two opposite directions and is biased towards the
negative plate.
• This is because negative ions are lighter and move more quickly than the positive
ions. Negative ions are attracted towards the positive plate whereas the positive ions
are attracted towards the negative plate.

7.1.7 Lightning formation

• During cloud formation, the friction of movement creates a lot of excess charge. This
induced positive charges on the objects below it.
• If the forces of attraction are strong enough, the negative charges in the clouds will be
attracted towards the positive charges of the objects, resulting in lightning.

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 3 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.1.8 Photocopiers

A light- An image of the Powdered ink A blank sheet of The paper is

sensitive original document (toner) is paper is pressed heated so that
plate (or is projected onto attracted to the against the plate the powdered
drum) is the plate. The charged areas and picks up the ink melts and
charged bright areas lose on the plate powdered ink sticks to the
their charge. paper

7.2 Current and Potential Difference

7.2.1 Current

Current: The rate of charge flow

Q = It

where Q = charge [Coulomb]

I = current [Ampere]
t = time [seconds]

7.2.2 Potential difference

Potential difference: Work done to move 1 Coulomb of charge from one point to
another in an electric field.


where V = potential difference [Volt]

E = energy released / work done [Joule}
Q = charge [Coulomb]

• Charges move from high potential to low potential

• Potential difference can be measured with a voltmeter connected in parallel across
two points within an electric circuit

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 4 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.2.3 Ohm’s Law

Ohm’s Law: Potential difference across an ohmic conductor is directly proportional to

the current if the temperature and other physical conditions are kept constant
V∝ I
= Constant = Resistance

V = IR

where V = potential difference [V]

I = current [A]
R = resistance [Ω]

Non-ohmic conductors:
• Non-ohmic conductors are conductors which do not obey Ohm’s
• E.g., a light bulb whose resistance increases over time due to
temperature increase (heating effect of current)

Note: In this whole chapter, all conductors and light bulbs are assumed to follow Ohm’s
Law. There are no non-ohmic problems at this level.

7.2.4 Factors that affect resistance

Factor Influence
Length of conductor Length ↑ Resistance ↑
Cross-section area of conductor Cross-section ↑ Resistance ↓
Temperature Temperature ↑ Resistance ↑
Material Depends on material

7.2.5 Superconductors Magnet

• Superconductors are conductors with zero resistance

• Superconductors conduct electricity with no loss of energy
• The conductors are cooled down to critical temperatures
• Special properties:
¾ Allows the flow of electric current with minimal loss of
¾ Negates any applied external magnetic fields
• Superconductors are used in transportation, electronic
components, energy storage, power cables, etc.

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 5 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

7.3 Series and Parallel Circuits

Series Parallel
Circuit V V

I R1
R1 R2
I1 I2
I2 R2

V1 V2

Resistance R = R1 + R2 1 1 1
= +
R R1 R2
Potential difference V = V1 + V2 V = V1 = V2
Current I = I1 = I2 I = I1 + I2

7.4 Electromotive Force and Internal Resistance

7.4.1 Electromotive force and Potential difference

• Electromotive force is the work done by a source in driving a unit charge around a
complete circuit

Electromotive force Potential difference

Usually used for voltage sources Usually used for electric loads
E.g. dry cells, batteries E.g. light bulbs, resistors, heating elements,
Electrical energy that is supplied by the Electrical energy lost or transformed due to
source the load on the circuit
E.m.f. = sum of potential difference across the whole circuit

7.4.2 Internal resistance V

• Before the switch is turned on
¾ The battery does not supply current to the light bulb
¾ Voltmeter reading = E.m.f. of battery R
• After the switch is turned on
¾ The battery supplies current which flows around the circuit
¾ Voltmeter measures the potential difference across the terminals of the battery
¾ The voltmeter reading drops due to internal resistance of the battery

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 6 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

EMF = IR + Ir
EMF = V + Ir
EMF = I (R + r)

where EMF = electromotive force [V]

I = current flowing through the circuit [A]
R = total resistance of the circuit [Ω]
r = internal resistance of the batteries [Ω]
V = potential difference of the circuit [V]

Circuit setup Graph of V against I

7.5 Electric Energy and Power

7.5.1 Electric power

Electric power: rate of transfer of electric energy


where P = power [Watt]

E = electric energy used / dissipated [Joule]
t = time [seconds]

P = IV

where P = power [Watt]

I = current [Ampere]
V = potential difference [Volt]

From P = IV and V = IR,

P = I2 R

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 7 of 8

Hoo Sze Yen Physics SPM 2008

• Electrical appliances are usually labeled by its voltage and power rating
• Voltage – required potential difference to operate the appliance
Power rating – energy dissipated by the appliance when the correct voltage is

7.5.2 Power rating of appliances

• A light bulb labeled 12 V, 36 W:

¾ When connected to a 12 V voltage source, the light bulb will shine with normal
intensity. Power dissipated is 36 W
¾ When connected to a voltage less than 12 V, the light bulb will shine with less
intensity and power is less than 36 W
¾ When connected to a voltage more than 12 V, the light bulb will shine with
brighter intensity and power is more than 36 W. Life span of the light bulb will be
shortened and the light bulb is burned out

7.5.3 Cost of using electricity

Total cost = Units × Cost per unit

where 1 unit = 1 kW-hour = 1 kW × 1 hour

Air conditioner with a power rating of 1 500 W is used for 20 hours. Cost per unit is

Number of units = 1.5 kW × 20 hours = 30 kW-hours

Total cost = 30 × RM0.20 = RM6.00

7.5.4 Efficiency

Output power
Efficiency = × 100%
Input power

Chapter 7: Electricity Page 8 of 8