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EXPERIMENT 24

ELECTRIC EQUIPOTENTIALS & FIELDS

I. Introduction
The object of this experiment is to identify the equipotentials and the associated electric
fields arising from different configurations of charges.

Electric charges set up a field around them, which we call the electric field, denoted by and
which has magnitude and direction. It is a vector. The electric field is defined as the force per
unit charge on a charged object that is placed in the field. That is:

 F
E (1)
q

where is the force on the charge q arising from a charge distribution. The charge is in
Coulombs and the force is in Newtons. The direction of the field is defined by the direction in
which a unit positive charge moves if placed at that point. The magnitude of the electric field,
called the electric field strength, is ∣F/q∣. Alternately, we may describe the field in terms of the
electric potential, V, a scalar, which we define as the work which must be done to bring a unit
positive charge to that point from infinity to some point

r
 
V r    E d r (2)

However, in practice, it is more common to work with the electric potential difference
between two positions in the field so that we have

W2  W1 2
 
r

V  r2   V  r1      E C dr         (3)
q r1

 

where the second term is the work done to move a charge q from point to point in the field.
The unit of electric potential is the volt: 1 volt = 1 joule/l coulomb.

For a given charged body or set of bodies, there are usually several points in the region of the
bodies which are at the same electric potential. The locus of these points in three dimensions is

That is.b is the equipotential in a plane that cuts the sphere in the y-z-plane. it is a circle. digital Voltmeter. ̂ (2) II.b is the equipotential in a plane that cuts the sphere in the y-z-plane. semiconducting Corresponding Electric Fields. Figure 1: The equipotential in three dimensions (Fig. In two dimensions it is an equipotential line. Fig 1. Figure 1: The equipotential in three dimensions (Fig.. the equipotential is a sphere. 1a) arising from a point charge at the origin. around a single charge in space.an equipotential surface. Fig. V is constant at any point on the surface or line. carbon paper. Equipment and Procedure A. For example. 1a) arising from a point charge at the origin. Equipment Figure 2: Equipotentials and Potential source. If the equipotential is sought in the yz-plane. The electric field may be written in terms of the electric potential. metallic ink. . and cork surface. The equipotential is a concentric spherical shell because the work required to bring a unit positive charge from infinity to a distance r from the charge q is the same regardless of the path from infinity to that point. Fig 1.

4. At several points on each equipotential draw small arrows perpendicular to the equipotential. Place a piece of tracing paper over a plain white sheet under the conducting sheet and join the points on the carbon paper with a smooth curve. IV. the other lead to the other pin and set the potential to that assigned by the instructor. Punctures alter the field. Procedure 1. Data Equipotentials (conducting paper). Repeat the above steps for other configurations provided by the instructor. Stick a pin firmly into each of the conducting surfaces. B. Transfer the equipotentials using carbon paper to white paper. III. Draw in four or five electric field lines based on the equipotential lines. remember the electric field lines cross the equipotential lines at right angles. 2 Attach one of the leads from the potential source to one of the pins. Place the black paper with the conducting surfaces on the cork board. The tracing should go through to the white paper (check that it does so). Attach the ground lead of the voltmeter to the lower potential. Lightly identify these points with a pencil and label the potential. Make sure to not puncture the black paper. Trace the shape of the equipotentials on the conducting surface. 5. Use the other lead to probe the points on the carbon paper for the potential values assigned by the instructor. Starting at the conducting surface at the higher potential to the lowest potential. 2. 7. 3. Label the equipotentials on the white paper with their potential voltages. draw smooth curves (the instructor will set the number of curves) through the . 6. Results 1.

These curves are the electric field lines for the given charge distribution. Label the equipotential lines with their voltages. maybe the same one. 3. How are they different? A sketch. may help with this answer. 4. V. Label each electric field line clearly indicating its direction at a minimum of three locations. Hand in the traces of the equipotentials (carbon/white paper) and the derived electric field lines with the report. .  Contrast the electric field lines and the equipotentials for the plots you took. Make sure the electric field lines do not cross and are at right angles to the electric potential lines. Conclusion and Discussion  What is the charge distribution for each of the plots that you did? A sketch may help with this answer. electric field arrows using the direction of the arrows to generate the direction of the curve.