# W3007 – Electricity and Magnetism

1

Divergence and Curl of B
The Biot-Savart law for a stationary volume current density J is B(r) = µ0 4π J(r ) × ˆ
2

dτ .

(1)

I am using to denote the relative vector r − r , which Griﬃths denote by ‘script-r’ (I could not ﬁnd how to write ‘script-r’ with LaTeX!). The integral is performed through the volume where the currents are, but as usual we can extend the integral to all space for free, since where J is zero the contribution to the integral vanishes anyway. Before starting computing derivatives, let’s be totally explicit about the notation. B is a function of the ‘observation position’ r = (x, y, z). J is a function of the ‘source position’ r = (x , y , z ), over which we are integrating. = r − r is the vector connecting the two. By ∇ we denote the gradient operator w.r.t. to r. Likewise, ∇ is the gradient operator w.r.t. r . Now, we are interested in the divergence and the curl of B. Before computing them, it is useful to massage the Biot-Savart law to recast B into a nicer form. We notice that ˆ
2

1 = −∇ , 1 J × ∇ dτ .

(2)

so that B(r) = − We now use the product rule

µ0 4π

(3)

∇ × (f g) = f ∇ × g − g × ∇f , with g = J and f = 1/ , to get B(r) = µ0 4π ∇× J 1 − 1 ∇ × J dτ .

(4)

(5)

The second piece vanishes, because J does not depend on r (only on r !), and so its curl w.r.t. r is zero. In the ﬁrst piece we can take the curl out of the integral, because it is a curl w.r.t to variables (the ‘unprimed’ coordinates) over which we are not integrating. In conclusion we have B(r) = B is the curl of something else: B =∇×A, A= µ0 4π J dτ . (7) µ0 ∇× 4π J dτ . (6)

In summary. Divergence and Curl of B (8) because the divergence of a curl is always zero. in the third step we used product rule eq. The ﬁrst piece is J µ0 ∇ ∇ · dτ (11) 4π Notice that inside the integral we have the divercence w. (15) in the second step we used that since 1/ is a function of the diﬀerence r−r .r. J does not depend on r. As to the curl of B. (14) vanishes for stationary currents: the continuity equation (=local charge conservation) relates the time-derivative of the charge density to the divergence of the current density.r. the computation is somewhat complicated. r. we simply mean the vector whose components are the Laplacian of the corresponding components of A: (∇2 A)x = ∇2 (Ax ). and as a consequence the divergence of J vanishes. derivatives w. etc. (9) where by the Laplacian of a vector function A. r .t.t. eq. (11) becomes ∇(∇ · A) = − µ0 ∇ 4π µ0 = − ∇ 4π = 0. r are the same as derivatives w. For magnetostatics there is no time-dependence. the second piece in eq.r. ∇·B =0. ∇ · J J S 1 dτ (16) (17) (18) · da . Now. We thus have ∇ × B = ∇(∇ · A) − ∇2 A . (12) (13) (14) (10) = −J · ∇ = −∇ · J Where in the ﬁrst step we used the product rule ∇ · (f g) = f ∇ · g + g · ∇f . whereas we are integrating in r (this is in fact why we could bring the divergence inside the integral). so that we have ∇(∇ · A) = ∇· J = J ·∇ 1 1 1 1 + ∇ ·J .2 Now we immediately see that the divergence of B vanishes.t. We use the product rule ∇ × (∇ × A) = ∇(∇ · A) − ∇2 A . (15) once again.

Also.r. In eq. because J was a function of r alone.t. the boundary surface S is at inﬁnity. and could therefore be brought inside the integral for free. = − (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) The Laplacian was w. In conclusion. it only acted on 1/ .W3007 – Electricity and Magnetism 3 In the ﬁrst step we used Gauss’s theorem to rewrite the volume integral as a surface integral. we have ∇·B =0. ∇ × B = µ0 J . (10) we are thus left with the second piece: ∇ × B = −∇2 A µ0 2 J ∇ dτ 4π 1 µ0 J ∇2 dτ = − 4π µ0 J(r )(−4π)δ 3 (r − r ) dτ = − 4π = µ0 J(r) . since the volume integral was extended to all space. it yields the latter computed where the argument of the delta-function vanishes. r. (24) . In the second step we realized that. Finally we used the fundamental property of the delta-function—that when integrated with another function. and there the current density vanishes (if we are dealing with a localized system of currents).