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Electric Fields

I. Electric Charge
II. Conductors, Insulators and Induced Charges
III. Coulomb's Law
IV. Electric Field and Electric Forces
V. Electric-Field Calculations

Mark Lorenz C. Bertulfo BSECE 1A

Electric Charge
I. Electric Charge •

The word "electric" is derived from the Greek word elektron, meaning amber.
When you scuff your shoes across a nylon carpet, you become electrically charged, and you can
charge a comb by passing it through dry hair. Plastic rods and fur (real or fake) are particularly good for
demonstrating electrostatics, the interactions between electric charges that are at rest (or nearly so).
• Electric Charge

Initially the printer's light-sensitive imaging drum is given a positive charge. As the
drum rotates, a laser beam shines on selected areas of the drum, leaving those areas
with a negative charge. Positively charged particles of toner adhere only to the areas of
the drum "written" by the laser. When a piece of paper is placed in contact with the drum,
the toner particles stick to the paper and form an image.
• Electric Charge

Electric Charge Is Conserved

Implicit in the foregoing discussion are two very important principles.

First is the principle of conservation of charge:

The algebraic sum of aU the electric charges in any closed system is constant.

If we rub together a plastic rod and a piece of fur, both initially uncharged, the rod acquires a
negative charge (since it takes electrons from the fur) and the fur acquires a positive charge of the
same magnitude (since it has lost as many electrons as the rod has gained). Hence the total electric
charge on the two bodies together does not change. In any charging process, charge is not created or
destroyed; it is merely transferred from one body to another.

The second important principle is:

The magnitude of charge of the electron or proton is a natural unit of charge.

Every observable amount of electric charge is always an integer mUltiple of this basic unit. We
say that charge is quantized.
II. Conductors, Insulators, and Induced Charges

21.6 Copper is a good conductor of electricity; nylon is a good insulator. (a) The copper wire
conducts charge between the metal ball and the charged plastic rod to charge the ball negatively.
Afterward, the metal ball is (b) repelled by a negatively charged plastic rod and (c) attracted to a
positively charged glass rod.
• Conductors, Insulators, and Induced Charges

Charging by Induction
There is a different technique in which the plastic rod can give another body a
charge of opposite sign without losing any of its own charge. This process is called
charging by induction.
• Conductors, Insulators, and Induced Charges

21.8 The charges within the molecules of an insulating material can shift slightly. As a
result, a comb with either sign of charge attracts a neutral insulator. By Newton's third law
the neutral insulator exerts an equal-magnitude attractive force on the comb.
• Conductors, Insulators, and Induced Charges

Electric Forces on Uncharged Objects

The attraction between a charged object

and an uncharged one has many important
practical applications, including the
electrostatic painting process used in the
automobile industry. A metal object to be
painted is connected to the earth ("ground"),
and the paint droplets are given an electric
charge as they exit the sprayer nozzle.
Induced charges of the opposite sign appear
in the object as the droplets approach, and
they attract the droplets to the surface. This
process minimizes overspray from clouds of
stray paint particles and gives a particularly
smooth finish. 21.9 The electrostatic painting process.
• Conductors, Insulators, and Induced Charges


You have two lightweight metal spheres, each hanging from an

insulating nylon thread. One of the spheres has a net negative charge, while
the other sphere has no net charge. (a) If the spheres are close together but
do not touch, will they (i) attract each other, (ii) repel each other, or (iii) exert
no force on each other? (b) You now allow the two spheres to touch. Once
they have touched, will the two spheres (i) attract each other, (ii) repel each
other, or (iii) exert no force on each other?
III. Coulomb’s Law

Charles Augustin de Coulomb (1736-1806) studied the interaction forces

of charged particles in detail in 1784. He used a torsion balance (Fig.
21.lOa) similar to the one used l3 years later by Cavendish to study the
much weaker gravita tional interaction. For point charges, charged bodies
that are very small in comparison with the distance r between them,
Coulomb found that the electric force is proportional to 1/ r 2 . That is,
when the distance r doubles, the force decreases to 1/4 of its initial value;
when the distance is halved, the force increases to four times its initial

Thus Coulomb established what we now call Coulomb's law:

The magnitude of the electric force between two point charges is directly
propor tional to the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the
square of the distance between them.
• Coulomb’s Law

21.10 (a) Measuring the electric force between point charges. (b) The electric
forces between point charges obey Newton's third law.
• Coulomb’s Law

In mathematical terms, the magnitude F of the force that each of two point charges
q1 and q2 a distance r apart exerts on the other can be expressed as

where k is a proportionality constant whose numerical value depends on the system

of units used. The absolute value bars are used because the charges q1 and q2 can
be either positive or negative, while the force magnitude F is always positive.
• Coulomb’s Law

Fundamental Electric Constants

The SI unit of electric charge is called one coulomb (l C). In SI units the
constant k is:

N.m2 N.m2
k = (8.98755 x 109 ) k = (9.0 x 109 )
C2 C2

Coulomb Charge. Since the coulomb unit is a large unit for point
charges the unit microcoulomb (µC) is used. Micro means 10-6 .

1 C = 6.25 x 1018 electrons or charges

1µC = 1.0 x 10-6 C

• Coulomb’s Law


What is the force between two point charges which are +50µC and -100µC,
respectively if they are 50 cm apart? (Hint: convert µC to C).


|q1q2| N.m2 |(50 x 10−6 C)(−100 x 10−6 C)|

F = k r2 = (9.0 x 10 9 )
C2 (0.5m)2

By cancelling the same units, the force is

F = -180 N

Where the negative sign indicates that the force is attractive and the charges are unlike.
IV. Electric Field and Electric Forces

The electric force on a charged body is exerted by

the electric field created by other charged bodies.
• Electric Field and Electric Forces

Force is a vector quantity, so electric field is also a vector quantity. We define

the electric field E at a point as the electric force Fo experienced by a test charge qo
at the point, divided by the charge qo· That is, the electric field at a certain point is
equal to the electric force per unit charge experienced by a charge at that point:

In SI units, in which the unit of force is 1 N and the unit of charge is 1 C,

the unit of electric field magnitude is 1 Newton per Coulomb (1 N/C).
• Electric Field and Electric Forces


What is the magnitude of the electric field at a field point 2.0 m from a point
charge q = 4.0 nC? (The point charge could represent any smail charged object with
this value of q, provided the dimensions of the object are much less than the
distance from the object to the field point.)

Fo |q1q2| q
𝐸= 𝐹o = 𝑘 2 𝐸=𝑘
𝑞 𝑟 𝑟2

q N.m 2 (4.0 x 10−9C)

𝐸=𝑘 = 9.0 𝑥 109
𝑟2 C2 (2.0m)2

𝑬 = 𝟗. 𝟎
V. Electric-Field Calculations

The Superposition of Electric Fields

`To find the field caused by a charge distribution, we imagine the distribution to be made
up of many point charges q1, q2, q3, .... At any given point P, each point charge produces
its own electric field E1, E2, E3, . . . , so a test charge qo placed at P experiences a force P, =
qoE1, from charge q1, a force F2 = qoE2 ? from charge q2, and so on. From the principle of
superposition of forces, the total force Po that the charge distribution exerts on qo is the
vector sum of these individual forces:

The combined effect of all the charges in the distribution is described by the total
electric field E at point P. From the definition of electric field, this is :
• Electric-Field Calculations

The total electric field at P is the vector

sum of the fields at P due to each point
charge in the charge distribution. This is the
principle of superposition of electric fields.
• Electric-Field Calculations


Point charges q1 and q2 of + 12 nC

and -12 nC, respectively, are placed 0.10
m apart (Fig. 21.23). This combination of
two charges with equal magnitude and
opposite sign is called an electric dipole.
Compute the electric field caused by q1,
the field caused by q2, and the total
field (a) at point a; (b) at point b; and (c)
at point c.

Young, Hugh D. and Freedman, Roger A. 2008. Sears and Zemansky's

University Physics with Modern Physics(12th Edition ). Pearson
Addison-Wesley, 1301 Sansome St., San Francisco, CA 9411:
Pearson Education, Inc.