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EECS 117

Lecture 7: Electrostatics Review


Prof. Niknejad
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 1/19
Existence of Charge
Charge, like mass, is an intrinsic property of matter.
In some sense it is even more fundamental since unlike
mass, its charge not a function of an objects velocity
(relativistic invariant).
Also note that an objects mass and charge can be
independent since we have positive and negative
charges. The net charge is the quantity of integral
importance. A feather can have more charge than a
heavy lead ball for this reason.
Even though the existence of charge has been known
since antiquity, the systematic study only began with
people like Franklin and Coulomb in the early 1730s.
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 2/19
Coulomb and Franklin
In his honor, the unit of charge is the Coulomb. For
historically incorrect reasons (much to the chagrin of
Franklin), the charge of an electron was assigned a
negative value! Additionally, a unit of charge of one C
(Coulomb) is actually quite a bit of charge.
The charge of an electron q = 1.6 10
19
C. Or there
are about 6.25 10
18
electrons in a charge of 1C
Experimentally it has been shown that the smallest unit
of charge is the charge of an electron (charge is
quantized)
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 3/19
Coulombs Law
Experimentally it is observed that the electric force
between two charges follows an inverse square law
form
|F
e
| =
q
1
q
2
4
0
R
2
12
Note the similarity to the gravitational force F
g
= G
0
m
1
m
2
R
2
12
But the electric force is generally much stronger

F
e
F
g

=
q
1
q
2
m
1
m
2
1
4
0
G
0
10
42
But because we have negative and positive charges,
electric forces are easily shielded. Gravitational forces
are not, and hence very long range interaction is
dominated by gravity
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 4/19
Vector Nature of Force
We know that force is a vector quantity. it has direction
in addition to magnitude and the components of force
obey vector properties. It points in a direction along the
segment connecting the charge centers. The statement
like charges repel and opposite charges attract is part
of our everyday culture.
Writing the force in vector form
F
e
=

R
q
1
q
2
4
0
R
2
=
R
|R|
q
1
q
2
4
0
|R|
2
= R
q
1
q
2
4
0
|R|
3
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 5/19
Superposition of Forces
y
x
1C
1C
F
12
F
13
F
1
1C
Force on charges can be derived by vectorial
summation
Note that F
1
= F
12
+F
13
= |F
1
| y
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 6/19
Electric Field
A convenient way to think about electrostatics forces is
to suppose the existence of a eld. Since action at a
distance runs counter to relativity, we suppose that
something must advertise the existence of charge. We
call that something the eld
E lim
q0
F
q
This is the force felt by a test charge of unit magnitude
Why take limits? q has to be small enough as to not
disturb the other charges in the volume in question. In
reality we know that charge is quantized and q > q
e
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 7/19
Field of a Point Charge
y
x
E
r
+q
y
x
E
r
+q
r

|
r

r
|
The eld of a point charge q at the origin is therefore
E =r
q
4
0
r
2
If q is not at origin, vectors make things easy
E =

R
q
4
0
|r r

|
2

R =
r r

|r r

|
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 8/19
Field Superposition
For N charges, we simply sum the eld due to each
point charge
E(r) =

i
q
i

R
i
4
0
|r r
i
|
2
Field lines are a convenient way to visualize the electric
eld. By convention, elds point away from positive
charges and point into negative charges.
We can use a program like Mathematica to plot eld
lines. But its important to develop skills in sketching the
eld
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 9/19
Field Due to Charge Distribution
It is often convenient to dene a charge density . We
know that this is an essentially ctitious concept (due to
the granularity of charge), but for any mildly
macroscopic system, its probably OK
In a diff volume dV

, the charge is dq = (r

)dV

Therefore
dE =

R
(r

)dV

4
0
|r r

|
2
Summing (integrating) the elds
E =
_
V

R
(r

)dV

4
0
|r r

|
2
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 10/19
Electric Potential
We always approach problems with a dual energy/force
perspective
From an energy perspective, the work done in moving a
charge against the eld is simply
W =
_
b
a
F d =
_
b
a
qE d
Let be the energy normalized to charge

W
q
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 11/19
Electric Potential
y
x
E
r
a
b
C
1
C
2
E
||
Important question: Does depend on path?
For instance, we can pick path C
1
to integrate the
function or path C
2
If its path independent, then the line integral will only be
a function of endpoints
Furthermore we can then dene a potential function
(r)
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 12/19
Path Independence for Point Charges (I)
y
x
C
1
Consider the eld of a point charge. For a point charge
its relatively easy to show that is independent of path.
Decompose C
1
into radial and tangential components
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 13/19
Path Independence for Point Charges (II)
_
C
1
=
_
C
1
1
+
_
C
2
1
+
_
C
3
1
+ =

i
_
C
R
i
1
. .
radial
+

j
_
C
T
j
1
. .
tang
But

j
_
C
T
j
1
= 0 since d is normal to E since E is purely
radial. Thus the integral is due only to the radial
components of the path
For another path C
2
, the radial component is the same,
so the integral is path independent
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 14/19
Path Independence in General
Again, by superposition, we can decompose the eld
into components arising from individual charges
E = E
1
+ E
2
+ E
3
+
Then the eld is path independent for any distribution of
charges. The value of the integral is thus only a function
of the endpoints a and b

_
C
E d = (b) (a)
Also, for any closed path in a static eld
_
E d 0
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 15/19
Potential of a Point Charge
For a point charge at the origin, the potential between
two points is given by
_
C
E d =
q
4
0
_
dr
r
2
=
q
4
0

1
r
_
b
a
Lets take the reference at innity to be zero () = 0
(r) =
q
4
0
_

1
r
_
=
q
4
0
r
For more than one point charge, superposition applies
(r) =

i
q
i
4
0
R
i
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 16/19
Potential of a Charge Distribution
For a continuous charge distribution, the charge in a
volume dV

is given by dq
i
= (r

)dV

Applying what we have learned already


d(r) =
(r

)dV

4
0
|r r

|
And integrating over the entire volume we arrive at
(r) =
_
V
(r

)dV

4
0
|r r

|
Potential is much nicer to work with than the eld since
its a scalar computation
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 17/19
Relation Between Potential and Field
By denition of potential, we have
d = Ed = E( xdx+ ydy+zdz) = (E
x
dx+E
y
dy+E
z
dz)
The total change in potential in terms of partials is given
by
d =

x
dx +

y
dy +

z
dz
Equating components we see that E
p
=

p
We can write this compactly in terms of
E =
Note that is a scalar but is a vector
University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 18/19
Gradient of a Function
We may think of = x

x
+ y

y
+z

z
But be careful, this only applies to rectangular
coordinates
Consider polar coordinates for instance. Since
d = dR

R+ R d

, equating E d to d we have
(E
R
dR + E

Rd) =

R
dR +

d
Or in polar coordinates we have
=

R

R+
1
R

University of California, Berkeley EECS 117 Lecture 7 p. 19/19