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# Thomas J.

Odhiambo Afullo
Faculty of Engineering, University of Kwazulu-Natal,
Durban 4000, South Africa.
E-mail: afullot@ukzn.ac.za; Tel: +27-31-260 2713;
Fax: +27-31-260 2740
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 1
ENEL2FT FIELD THEORY

REFERENCES

1. M.N. Sadiku: Elements of Electromagnetics,
Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-510368-
8.

2. N.N. Rao: Elements of Engineering
Electromagnetics, Prectice-Hall, 1991, ISBN:0-13-
251604-7.

3. P. Lorrain, D. Corson: Electromagnetic Fields
and Waves, W.H. Freeman & Co, 1970, ISBN: 0-
7167-0330-0.

4. David T. Thomas: Engineering
Electromagnetics, Pergamon Press, ISBN: 08-
016778-0.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 2
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

The study of electrostatics begins by investigating two
fundamental laws: Coulomb’s law and Gauss’s law.

Although Coulomb’s law is applicable in finding the electric
field due to any charge configuration, it is easier to use
Gauss’s law when charge distribution is symmetrical.

Coulomb’s law is an experimental law formulated in 1785
by the French colonel, Charles Coulomb.

It deals with the force a point charge exerts on another
point charge.

By a point charge is meant a charge that is located on a
body whose dimensions are much smaller than other
relevant dimensions.

For example, the collection of electric charges on a pinhead
may be regarded as a point charge.

Charges are generally measured in Coulombs (C).

One Coulomb is approximately equal to 6x10
18
electrons; it
is a very large unit of charge because the charge of an
electron is -1.6019x10
-19
C.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 3
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

Coulomb’s law states that the force F between two point
charges Q
1
and Q
2
is:

a) Along the line joining the charges

b) Directly proportional to the product Q
1
Q
2
of the charges

c) Inversely proportional to the square of the distance R
between them.

Mathematically, Coulomb’s law is expressed as:

Here, k is the proportionality constant.

In SI units, charges Q1 and Q2 are in coulombs (C), the
distance R is in metres, and the force F is in newtons (N).
A constant ε
o
is defined as the permittivity of free space
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 4
2
2 1
R
Q kQ
F ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

The constant k is defined as:

Then the equation of force becomes:
If point charges Q
1
and Q
2
are located at points having
position vectors r
1
and r
2
, respectively, then the force
F
12
on Q
2
due to Q
1
is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 5
m F x
F m k
o
o
/ 10 854 . 8
36
10
/
4
1
12
9

≈ ·
·
π
ε
πε
2
2 1
4 R
Q Q
F
o
πε
·
12
2
2 1
12
ˆ
4
a
R
Q Q
F
o
πε
·

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

Where:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 6
R
12
Q
1
Q
2
F
21
F
12
origin
12
12
12
12 1 2 12
ˆ
;
R
R
a
R R r r R

 

·
· − ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

We may re-write Coulomb’s equation as:

Also note that:

It noted that like charges (charges of the same sign)
repel each other, while unlike charges attract.
The distance R between the two charged bodies Q
1
and
Q
2
must be large compared with the linear dimensions of
the bodies.
Q
1
and Q
2
must be static (at rest).
The signs of Q
1
and Q
2
must be taken into account.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 7
( )
3
1 2
1 2 2 1
12
3
2 1
12
4
4
r r
r r Q Q
R
R
Q Q
F
o
o
 
 
 

· ·
πε
πε
12 21
F F
 
− ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW

If there are more than two point charges, we can use the
principle of superposition to determine the force on a
particular charge.
The principle states that if there are N charges Q
1
, Q
2
,
..,Q
N
located respectively at points with position vectors
r
1
,r
2
,..,r, the resultant force F on a charge Q located at
point r is the vector sum of the forces exerted on Q by
each of the charges Q
1
, Q
2
, ..,Q
N
. Hence:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 8
( ) ( ) ( )
( )

·

·

+ +

+

·
N
k
k
k k
o
N
N N
r r
r r Q Q
F
r r
r r QQ
r r
r r QQ
r r
r r QQ
F
1
3
3 3
2
2 2
3
1
1 1
4
4
..
4 4
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

πε
πε πε πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW: ELECTRIC FIELD INTENSITY

We define the electric field intensity or electric field
strength as the force per unit charge when placed in
the electric field.

That is:

Thus the electric field intensity is in the direction of the
force F and is measured in Volts/metre.

The electric field intensity at point r due to a point
charge located at r
1
is obtained as:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 9
F
Q
E
 
1
·
( )
3
1
1
3
4
4
r r
r r Q
R
R
Q
E
o
o
 
 
 

· ·
πε
πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

COULOMB’S LAW: ELECTRIC FIELD INTENSITY
For N point charges Q
1
,Q
2
,..,Q
N
located at positions
r
1
,r
2
,..,r
N
, the electric field intensity at point r is obtained
as:

Example:

Point charges of 2mC and 4mC are located at (3,2,1) and
(-1,-2,-3), respectively. Calculate the electric force on a
10 nC charge located at (0,2,4). Also calculate the
electric field intensity at that point.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 10
( ) ( ) ( )
( )

·

+ +

+

·
·
N
k
k
k k
o
N
N N
r r
r r Q
E
r r
r r Q
r r
r r Q
r r
r r Q
E
1
3
3 3
2
2 2
3
1
1 1
4
1
4
..
4 4
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

πε
πε πε πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE
DISTRIBUTIONS

So far, we have only considered forces and electric fields due
to point charges, which are essentially charges occupying very
small physical space.

At a macroscopic scale, we can disregard the discrete nature of
the charge distribution and treat the net charge contained in
an elemental volume ∆v as if it were uniformly distributed
within it.

Accordingly, we define the volume charge density as:
Where ∆q is the charge contained in ∆v. The variation of ρ
v

with spatial location is called its spatial distribution. The
total charge contained in volume v is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 11
) / ( lim
3
0
m C
dv
dq
v
q
v
v
·

·
→ ∆
ρ

·
v
v
Coulombs dv Q ρ
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE
DISTRIBUTIONS

In some cases, particularly when dealing with conductors,
electric charge may be distributed across the surface of a
material, in which case the relevant quantity of interest is
the surface charge density, ρ
s
, defined as:

Where ∆q is the charge present across an elemental
surface area ∆s. Similarly, if the charge is distributed along
a line, we characterize the distribution in terms of the line
charge density ρ
l
, defined as:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 12
ds
dq
s
q
s
s
·

·
→ ∆ 0
lim ρ
( ) m C
dl
dq
l
q
l
l
/ lim
0
·

·
→ ∆
ρ
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE
DISTRIBUTIONS

The electric field intensity due to each of the charge
distributions ρ
l

s
,and ρ
v
may be regarded as the
summation of the field distributed by the numerous point
charges making up the charge distribution.

Thus we replace Q in the equations for E, and integrating,
we get:

We shall now apply these formulas to specific charge
distributions.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 13

·

·

·
r
R
dv
E
r
R
ds
E
r
R
dl
E
o
v
o
s
o
l
ˆ
4
ˆ
4
ˆ
4
2
2
2
πε
ρ
πε
ρ
πε
ρ

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE
DISTRIBUTIONS – AN INFINITE LINE CHARGE
Consider a line charge with a uniform charge density ρ
L

extending from -∞ to +∞ along the z-axis, as shown
below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 14
z
r
R

E d

α
dz

α

zˆ −
R

Infinite
line charge
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE
CHARGE

The charge element dQ associated with element dz of
the line is:

The electric field intensity at point P a distance r from
the line, due to the elemental charge ρ
L
dz is given by:

From geometry, we obtain:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 15
dz dQ
L
ρ ·
R R
R
R
a
R
R
dz
a
R
dz
E d
R
o
L
R
o
L

 
· · ⇒
· ·
; ˆ
4
ˆ
4
3 2
πε
ρ
πε
ρ
α α α
α
α
α
α
α α
α α α
d r dz r
d
d
r
d
d
r
d
dz
r r r R r z z r R
2 2
2 2 2 2 2
sec sec
cos
sin
tan
sec tan tan ;
· ⇒ ·
]
]
]

· ·
· + · ⇒ · + ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE
CHARGE

Also, for the unit vector we have:

If we now integrate over the entire line, then α varies
from –π/2 to +π/2 as z varies from -∞ to +∞; thus:

In normal cylindrical coordinates, the expression
becomes:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 16
( )
( ) [ ] α α α
πε
ρ
α
α α α α
πε
ρ
α α
d z r
r r
d r z r
E d
z r a
o
L
o
L
R
sin ˆ cos ˆ
4 sec
sec sin ˆ cos ˆ
4
sin ˆ cos ˆ ˆ
2 2
2
− ·
]
]
]

· ∴
− ·

( ) [ ] [ ] { ¦
r
r
E
z r
r
d z r
r
E
o
L
o
L
o
L
ˆ
2
cos ˆ sin ˆ
4
sin ˆ cos ˆ
4
2 /
2 /
2 /
2 /
2 /
2 /
πε
ρ
α α
πε
ρ
α α α
πε
ρ
π
π
π
π
π
π
· ∴
+ ·

− ·
− −

ρ
ρ πε
ρ
ˆ
2
o
L
E ·

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE
CHARGE

Alternatively, one can see from the expression for dE
that:

One observes that at the observation point P, the
contribution to E
z
due to the element dz at point +z on
the line charge is cancelled by the contribution due to
the element dz at position –z along the line charge.
Therefore, we could just conclude that:

We shall use a similar argument for surface charge. ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 17
( )
( ) [ ]
z r
o
L
o
L
dE z dE r d z r
r r
d r z r
E d ˆ ˆ sin ˆ cos ˆ
4 sec
sec sin ˆ cos ˆ
4
2 2
2
+ · − ·
]
]
]

· α α α
πε
ρ
α
α α α α
πε
ρ

r z r z
E r E z E r E E ˆ ˆ ˆ ; 0 · + · ⇒ ·

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CIRCULAR RING OF
CHARGE

Consider a circular ring of charge of radius ρ, having
uniform charge density ρ
l
C/m. The ring is placed on the
x-y plane.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 18
x
y
z
R

ϕ
ρ
dl
E d

Circular ring
of charge
α

ρˆ −
R

α
h
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CIRCULAR RING OF
CHARGE

We are required to determine the total electric field at
the point P along the z-axis, located a height h above the
x-y plane.

Consider an elemental length dl on the ring. The electric
field arising from this elemental charge is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 19
( )
( )
( )
( )
z
o
L
R
L L
R
o
dE z dE E d
z
h
d
E d
z a h R
d dl dQ
a
R
dQ
E d
ˆ ˆ
cos ˆ sin ˆ
4
cos ˆ sin ˆ ˆ ;
ˆ
4
2 2
2 2
2
+ · ⇒
+ −
+
· ∴
+ − · + ·
· ·
·
ρ
ρ
α α ρ
ρ πε
ϕ ρ ρ
α α ρ ρ
ϕ ρ ρ ρ
πε

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CIRCULAR RING OF
CHARGE

Thus dE has both a z-component and a ρ−component.

However, from symmetry considerations, for every
element dl in the direction ρ giving rise to an elemental
field strength dE
ρ
, there is a corresponding opposite
element –dl giving rise to an opposite elemental electric
field strength –dE
ρ
. Therefore the ρ components of dE
cancel; this implies that dE has only a z-component.
Thus:

Simplifying, we obtain:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 20
( )
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
2 2
2
0
2 2
2 2
2
cos ˆ
4
cos ˆ
cos ˆ
4
ˆ , 0 ˆ
h
z
h
d z
E
z
h
d
dE z E d dE
o
L
o
L
o
L
z
+
·

+
·
+
· · ⇒ ·
ρ ε
α ρ ρ
ρ πε
ϕ ρ α ρ
α
ρ πε
ϕ ρ ρ
ρ
π
ρ

( )
( )
( )
( )
( ) ( )
2 / 3
2 2
2 / 3
2 2
2 / 3
2 2
2 2
4
ˆ
4
2 ˆ
2
ˆ
2
cos ˆ
h
Qh z
h
h z
h
h z
h
z
E
o o
L
o
L
o
L
+
·
+
·
+
·
+
·
ρ πε ρ πε
πρρ
ρ ε
ρ ρ
ρ ε
α ρ ρ

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE
CHARGE

Let us consider an infinite plane sheet of charge in the xy-
plane with uniform surface charge density ρ
s
C/m
2
. We are
required to find the electric field intensity due to it
everywhere above the sheet.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 21
x
y
z
ϕ
ρ

dA
R

h
α
ρˆ −
R

α
E d

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE
CHARGE

Consider the point P(0,0,h) on the z-axis. The sheet of
surface charge is thus placed a distance h below P. The
charge contribution due to an elemental area dA is
given by:

We also derive the following relationships from the
sketch:

Then the electric field intensity arising from this
elemental charge is:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 22
( ) ( ) ρ ϕ ρ ρ ρ ϕ ρ ρ d d dQ d d dA dA dQ
s s
· ⇒ · · ;
α ρ α
α α ρ α
α
α
α α
ρ
α α α ρ ρ
sin ˆ cos ˆ ˆ
sec ; sec
cos
sin
sec tan 1 ; tan ;
2 2
2 2 2
− ·
· ⇒ ·
]
]
]

·
· + · ⇒ · + · ·
z a
d h d h
d
d
h
d
d
h h R h h R R
R

( ) [ ]
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹

· · ·
α
α ρ α α α ϕ α
πε
ρ
πε
ρ ϕ ρ ρ
πε
2 2
2
2 2
sec
sin ˆ cos ˆ ) sec )( tan (
4
ˆ
4 4
ˆ
h
z d h d h
a
R
d d
R
a dQ
E d
o
s
R
o
s
o
R

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE
CHARGE

The total electric field is obtained from the integration of
dE over the entire surface. Here, ϕ varies from (0,2π),
while α varied from (0,π/2).
Note that dE has two components: one, dE
z
in the z-
direction, and the other is dE
ρ
in the ρ direction.
For the ρ component of dE, for each value of dE
ρ
, there
is a canceling value, -dE
ρ
, from the opposite element.
Thus the ρ components cancel each other out, and we
have left only the z-component:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 23
[ ] { ¦
ρ
ρ ϕ α
α
α
ρ α
πε
ρ
ϕ α α α ρ α α
πε
ρ
dE dE z d d z E d
d d z E d
z
o
s
o
s
ˆ ˆ
cos
sin
ˆ sin ˆ
4
sin tan ˆ cos tan ˆ
4
2
+ ·
¹
'
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]

− · ∴
− ·

( ) ( )
z
o
s
o
s
o
s
E z z d z d d z E ˆ ˆ
2
sin ˆ
2
sin ˆ
4
2 /
0
2
0
2 /
0
· ·
]
]
]

·

]
]
]

·
ε
ρ
α α
ε
ρ
ϕ α α
πε
ρ
π π π

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE
CHARGE

For a point located below the charge sheet, the electric
field intensity is:

If we consider two infinite parallel, oppositely-
charged charge sheets, one with charge density ρ
s
,
and the other with opposite charge density –ρ
s
C/m
2
, the
total electric field between the two plates is given by:

This would therefore be the total electric field between
two plates of a parallel-plate capacitor with
(approximately) infinite dimensions.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 24
( )
o
s
o
s
o
s
z E
z z E
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ˆ
2
ˆ
2
ˆ
· ∴
]
]
]

− + ·

o
s
z E
ε
ρ
2
ˆ − ·

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FLUX DENSITY

Let us define a vector field, D, as:

Where ε is the electrical permittivity of the medium.
Thus D is independent of the medium. Define the
electric flux, Ψ, as:

The electric flux is measured in Coulombs, and therefore
the vector D is called the electric flux density, measured
in C/m
2
.

Thus all formulas derived for E from Coulomb’s law can
be used in calculating D, except we have to multiply
those results by ε
o
. Thus for a volume charge
distribution,
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 25
E D
 
ε ·

· Ψ S d D
 
.
R
v
a
R
dv
D ˆ
4
2

·
π
ρ

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

GAUSS’S LAW

Gauss’s law states that the total electric flux, Ψ, flowing
out of a closed surface S equals to the total charge
enclosed by the surface.

That is:
Where Q
enc
=total charge enclosed.

Gauss’s law is thus an alternative statement of
Coulomb’s law.

Gauss’s law provides an easy means of finding E or D for
symmetrical charge distributions such as a point Charge,
an infinite line charge, an infinite surface charge, and a
spherical charge distribution.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 26

· · Ψ ⇒ · Ψ
S
enc enc
Q S d D Q
 
.
∫ ∫ ∫
· ⇒ ·
v
v
v s
v
dv S d D dv Q ρ ρ
 
.
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A POINT
CHARGE

Suppose that a point charge Q is located at the origin.

To determine the flux density D at a point P, it is seen
that choosing a spherical surface containing P will satisfy
symmetry conditions.

Thus a spherical surface centered at the origin is the
Gaussian surface in this case, as shown below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 27
x
y
z
Q
D

r
P
Gaussian Surface
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A POINT
CHARGE

Applying Gauss’s law, with a spherical surface as the
Gaussian surface, we have:

From this, we can determine E to be:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 28
( ) ( )
2
2
0
2
0
2
4
ˆ
4 sin
sin ˆ
. ˆ .
r
Q
r D
r D d d r D Q
d r rd r S d
S d r D S d D Q
r r
V
r
V
π
π θ θ ϕ
ϕ θ θ
π π
· ∴
·

,
`

.
|

· ∴
·

·

·

  
2
4
ˆ
r
Q
r E E D
o
o
π ε
ε · ⇒ ·
  
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A LINE CHARGE
Suppose the infinite line of uniform charge ρ
L
C/m lies
along the z-axis.

To determine D at a point P a distance ρ from the line,
we choose a cylindrical surface containing P to satisfy
symmetry conditions as shown in the figure below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 29
ρ
P
D

z
x
y
L
Gaussian
surface
Line charge
ρ
L
C/m
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A LINE CHARGE

D is constant on and normal to the cylindrical Gaussian
surface. Thus,

If we apply Gauss’s law to an arbitrary length L of the
line, we have:

Note that the evaluation of D.dS on the top and bottom
surfaces of the cylinder is zero since D has no z-
component.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 30
ρ
ρD D ˆ ·

( )
ρπ ε
ρ
ρ
ρπ
ρ
ρ
ρπ ρ
ϕ ρ ρ
ρ
ρ
o
L L
L enc
L enc
E D
L D L Q
dz d S d
S d D L Q
2
ˆ
2
ˆ
2
ˆ
.
 

 
⇒ · ∴
· · ∴
·

· ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY
CHARGED SPHERE
Consider a sphere of radius a with a uniform charge ρ
v

C/m
3
.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 31
a
r
r
a
Gaussian surface
a r ≥
a r ≤
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY
CHARGED SPHERE

To determine D everywhere, we construct Gaussian
surfaces for cases r≤a, and r≥a, separately.

Since the charge has spherical symmetry, it is obvious
that a spherical surface is an appropriate Gaussian
surface.

For r≤a, the total charge enclosed by the spherical

The total flux is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 32
v enc
r
r
v enc
r
Q
d drd r dv Q
ρ
π
ϕ θ θ ρ
π
ϕ
π
θ
3
4
sin
3
2
0 0 0
2
·
∫ ∫ ∫
·

·
· · ·
( )
∫ ∫ ∫
· · · Ψ
· ·
π
ϕ
π
θ
π ϕ θ θ
2
0 0
2 2
4 sin . r D d d r D S d D
r r
 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY
CHARGED SPHERE

Thus we have:

For r≥a, the charge enclosed by the Gaussian surface is
the entire charge in this case, that is:

Similarly, the flux is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 33
a r
r
r D
r
D r Q
v r enc
≤ ≤ · ∴
· ⇒ · Ψ
0 ,
3
ˆ
3
4
4
3
2

ρ
π
π
∫ ∫ ∫ ∫
· · ·
· · ·
π
ϕ
π
θ
ρ
π
ϕ θ θ ρ ρ
2
0 0 0
3
2
3
4
sin
a
r
v v v enc
a
d drd r dv Q
( )
r
D r S d D

· · Ψ
2
4 . π
 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY
CHARGED SPHERE

Hence we obtain,

Thus from the foregoing, D is everywhere given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 34
( )
a r
r
a
r D
a
D r
v
v r
≥ · ⇒
·
,
3
ˆ
3
4
4
2
3
3
2
ρ
ρ
π
π

¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹

·
a r
r
a
r
a r
r
r
D
v
v
,
3
ˆ
,
3
ˆ
2
3
ρ
ρ

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A AN INFINITE
SHEET OF CHARGE

Consider the infinite sheet of uniform charge with charge
density ρ
s
C/m
2
lying on the z-0 plane (xy-plane).
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 35
x
y
z
D

P
Gaussian surface
Area A
Infinite sheet of
charge, ρ
s
C/m
2
D

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A AN INFINITE
SHEET OF CHARGE

To determine D at point P, we choose a rectangular box
that is cut symmetrically by the sheet of charge and has
two of its sides parallel to the sheet as shown in the
figure.

As D is normal to the sheet, we have, when applying
Gauss’s law:
Note that D has no x- and y- components, hence D
x
=0,
D
y
=0.

If the top and bottom of the pillbox each has area A,
then we get:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 36

]
]
]

∫ ∫
+ · ·
·
top bottom
z
z
dS dS D Q S d D
D z D
 

.
ˆ
o
s
o
s
z z s
z
D
E z D
AD A A D A Q
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ρ
2
ˆ
2
ˆ
2 ) (
· · ⇒ · ∴
· + · Ψ · ·

 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

In electric circuits, we work with voltages and
currents.

The voltage V between two points in the circuit
represents the amount of work, or potential
energy, required to move a unit charge
between the two points.

In fact, the term “voltage” is a shortened version of
the term “voltage potential” and is the same as
electric potential.

Even though when we solve a circuit problem we
usually do not consider the electric fields present in
the circuit, in fact it is the existence of an electric field
between two points that gives rise to the voltage
difference between them, such as across a resistor or
capacitor.

The relationship between the electric field, E, and the
electric potential, V, is the subject of this section.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 37
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

Consider the case of a positive charge q in a uniform
electric field

Which is parallel to –y direction, as shown in the figure.

The presence of the field E exerts a force F on the
charge, given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 38
y
x
q
dy
E

E

E y E ˆ − ·

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

The force exerted is in the negative y-direction.

If we attempt to move the charge along the positive y-
direction, against the force F
e
, we will need to provide an
external force F
ext
to counteract F
e
, which requires an
expenditure of energy.

To move q without any acceleration (at a constant
speed), it is necessary that the net force acting on the
charge be zero. This means that:

The work done, or energy expended, in moving any
object a vector differential distance dl under the
influence of force F
ext
is:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 39
qE y E q F
e
ˆ − · ·
 
E q F F
e ext
  
− · − ·
l d E q l d F dW
ext
   
. . − · ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

If the charge is moved a distance dy along y, then:

The differential electric potential energy dW per unit
charge is called the differential electric potential, or
differential voltage, dV.

That is,

The unit of V is the volt (V), and therefore the electric
field is expressed in volts per metre (V/m).
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 40
( ) qEdy dy y E y q dW · − − · ˆ . ˆ
) / ( . V or C J l d E
q
dW
dV
 
− · ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL
Thus the potential difference between any two points P
2

and P
1
is obtained by integrating dV along the path
between P
1
and P
2
. That is:
Where V
1
and V
2
are the electric potentials at points P
1

and P
2
, respectively.

The result of the line integral above should be
independent of the specific path of integration between
points P
1
and P
2
.

It is also readily seen that the integral of the
electrostatic field E around any closed contour is
zero:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 41

·

· − ·

·
2
1
2
1
1 2 21
.
P
P
P
P
l d E dV V V V
dV V
 
0 . .
0 . .
2
2
2
2
2 2 22
· ∇

⇒ ∇ ·

·

·

·

· − ·
E x S d E x l d E But
l d E l d E dV V V V
S C
C
P
P
P
P
      
   
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL

We now define what is meant by the electric potential V
at a point in space.

Whenever we talk of a voltage V in a circuit, we do so in
reference to a voltage of some conveniently chosen
point to which we have assigned a reference voltage
of zero, which we call ground.

The same principle applies to electric potential V.
Usually, the reference potential point is chosen to be at
infinity. That is, if we assume V
1
=0 when P
1
is at infinity,
the electric potential at any point P is given by:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 42

− ·

P
l d E V
 
.
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS 
ELECTRIC POTENTIAL DUE TO POINT CHARGES

For a charge q located at the origin of a spherical
coordinate system, the electric field at a distance R is
given by:

As indicated before, the choice of the integration path
between two points in determining the potential V is
quite arbitrary. Hence we conveniently choose the path
to be along the radial direction R, in which case we
have:

If the charge q is at a location other than the origin,
specified by a source position vector R
1
, then the
potential V at observation position vector R becomes:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 43
( ) m V
R
q
a E
o
R
/
4
ˆ
2
πε
·

( ) ) (
4
ˆ .
4
ˆ .
2
V
R
q
dR a
R
q
a l d E V
o
R
R
o
R
R
πε πε
·

,
`

.
|
− ·

− ·
∞ ∞
 
) (
4
1
V
R R
q
V
o
 

·
πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL DUE TO POINT CHARGES

The principle of superposition that has been applied
previously to the electric field E also applies to the
electric potential V.
For N discrete point charges q
1
, q
2
, ..,q
N
having
position vectors R
1
, R
2
, .., R
N
, the electric potential
is:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 44
) (
4
1
1
V
R R
q
V
N
i
i
i
o

·
·
 
πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC POTENTIAL DUE TO CONTINUOUS
CHARGE DISTRIBUTIONS

For a continuous charge distribution specified over a
given volume V, across a surface S, or along a line l, we
replace the q
i
with:

Then, converting the summation into integration, we
obtain:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 45
dl ds dv
l s v
ρ ρ ρ ; ;
) (
4
1
) (
) (
4
1
) (
) (
4
1
) (
on distributi line dl
R
R V
on distributi surface dS
R
R V
on distributi volume dv
R
R V
L
l
o
S
s
o
V
v
o

·

·

·
ρ
πε
ρ
πε
ρ
πε
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ELECTRIC FIELD AS A FUNCTION OF ELECTRIC
POTENTIAL

We have seen that:

If we resolve E and dl into rectangular coordinates, we
have:

Thus
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 46
l d E dV
 
. − ·
( ) ( )
; ; ;
ˆ ˆ ˆ . ˆ ˆ ˆ .
ˆ ˆ ˆ ; ˆ ˆ ˆ
z
V
E
y
V
E
x
V
E
dz
z
V
dy
y
V
dx
x
V
dV
dz E dy E dx E dz z dy y dx x E z E y E x l d E
dz z dy y dx x l d E z E y E x E
z y x
z y x z y x
z y x

− ·

− ·

− · ∴

+

+

·
+ + · + + + + · ∴
+ + · + + ·
 
 
V E ∇ − ·
 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

EXAMPLE:

Given the potential function:

Determine:

A) The electric field strength and the electric
flux density at (2,π/2, 0)

The work done in moving a 10-µC charge from
point A (1,30
o
, 120
o
) to B(4,90
o
,60
o
)
φ θ cos sin
10
2
r
V ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 47
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

SOLUTION:
( )
( )
( ) ( )
J W
x
r r
Q
V V Q l d E Q QV W
m C x r E D
m V r m V r r E
r r
r
r
V
r
V
r
r
r
V
V E
o o o o
B
A
A B AB
o
o o o o
5 -
5 6
) 120 , 30 , 1 (
2
) 60 , 90 , 4 (
2
2 11
9
0 , 2 / , 2
3 3 3
2.8125x10
4
10
32
10
10 120 cos 30 sin
1
10
60 cos 90 sin
16
10
10 10
cos sin
10
cos sin
10
.
/ 10 21 . 2 ˆ
8
20
36
10
/ ˆ 5 . 2 / ˆ
8
20
ˆ
0
ˆ
0 ˆ
8
20
ˆ
sin
10
ˆ
cos cos
10
ˆ cos sin
20
ˆ
sin
1
ˆ
1
ˆ
· ∴
]
]
]

− ·
]
]
]

− ·
]
]
]
]

− ·

− · − · ·
·

,
`

.
|
· ·
· ·

,
`

.
|
+ − ·
+ − ·
]
]
]

+

+

− · ∇ − ·
− −

φ θ φ θ
π
ε
φ θ
φ φ θ φ θ φ θ
φ
φ θ
θ
θ
π
 
 

 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 48
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE

An electric dipole is formed when two point charges of
equal but opposite sign are separated by a small
distance, as shown below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 49
P
x
y
z
+Q
-Q
d
r
1
r
2
r
θ
An Eectric Dipole
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE

The potential at point P(r,θ,φ) is given by:
Where r
1
and r
2
are the distances between P and +Q and –Q,
respectively.

If r>>d, then:
]
]
]

πε
·
]
]
]

πε
·
2 1
1 2
o 2 1 o
r r
r r
4
Q
r
1
r
1
4
Q
V
( )( ) ( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
[ ]
2
2 1
1 2
2 2 2
2
2 1
1 2
2
2
2
2
2 2
2
2
1
2
2
2 2
1
4
cos
4
cos ) / ( 1
cos ) / ( 1 cos ) / ( 1 cos ) / ( 1 cos ) / ( 1
cos
cos ) 2 / ( cos ) / ( 1 cos ) 2 / ( 2
cos ) 2 / ( 2 cos ) 2 / ( 2
2
cos ) 2 / ( cos ) / ( 1 cos ) 2 / ( 2
cos ) 2 / ( 2 cos ) 2 / ( 2
2
r
Qd
r r
r r Q
V
r r d r
r d r d r r d r r d r r r
d r r
d r r d r d r r r
d r r d r
d
r r
d r r d r d r r r
d r r d r
d
r r
o
o
πε
θ
πε
θ
θ θ θ θ
θ
θ θ θ
θ θ
θ θ θ
θ θ
·
]
]
]

· ∴

,
`

.
|
− ·
+ − · + − ·
≈ − ∴
+ ≈ + · + · ∴
+ ≈ +

,
`

.
|
+ ·
− ≈ − · − · ∴
− ≈ −

,
`

.
|
+ ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 50
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE

Define the dipole moment p as:

The electric field due to the dipole with centre at the
origin, is:
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 51
2 2
4
ˆ .
4
cos
r
r p
r
Qd
V
d Q p
o o
πε πε
θ

· ·
·
[ ] θ θ θ
πε
θ
πε
θ
πε
θ
θ
θ
ˆ
sin ˆ cos 2
4
ˆ
4
sin
ˆ
2
cos
ˆ
1
ˆ
3
3 3
+ · ∴
+ ·
]
]
]

+

− · ∇ − ·
r
r
p
E
r
Qd
r
r
Qd
V
r
r
r
V
V E
o
o o

 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE

Notice that a point charge is a monopole, and
its electric filed varies inversely as r
2
, while its
potential varies inversely as r.

For the dipole, we notice that the electric field
varies inversely as r
3
, while its potential varies
inversely as r
2
.

The electric fields due to the presence of a
quadrupole (consisting of two dipoles) vary
inversely as r
4
, while the corresponding
potential varies inversely as r
3
.

EXAMPLE:
Two dipoles have dipole moments p
1
and p
2

are located at points (0,0,2) and (0,0,3),
respectively. Find the potential at the origin if:
Cm z x p Cm z x p ˆ 10 9 ; ˆ 10 5
9
2
9
1
− −
· − ·
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 52
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE

SOLUTION:

The potential is given by:
20.25V 1
8
10
9
27
10 27
8
10 10
36
10
4
1
3 ; ˆ 3 ) 3 , 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 0 , 0 ( ; ˆ 10 9
2 ; ˆ 2 ) 2 , 0 , 0 ( ) 0 , 0 , 0 ( ; ˆ 10 5
. .
4
1
4
.
9 9
9
2 2 2
9
2
1 1 1
9
1
3
2
2 2
3
1
1 1
2
1
3
− ·
]
]
]

− − ·
]
]
]
]

· ∴
· · − · − · ·
· · · − − · − ·
]
]
]
]

+ ·

·
− −

·
x x
V
r r z r z x p
r r z r z x p
r
r p
r
r p
r
r p
V
o
k
k o
k k
π
π
πε
πε
  
  
     
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 53
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

EXAMPLE:

An electric dipole of dipole moment p is located at the
origin, where:

Find the electric filed intensity E and potential V at the
following points:

A) (0,0,10).

B) (1,π/3,π/2)

ANS:
Cm x p
12
10 100

·

( ) V V m V x r E B
V x V m V r x E A
45 . 0 ; / 10
ˆ
78 . 0 ˆ 9 . 0 )
10 9 ; / ˆ 10 8 . 1 )
3
3 3
· + ·
· ·

− −
θ

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 54
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

To determine the energy present in an assembly of
charges, we must first determine the amount of work
necessary to assemble them.
Suppose we wish to position three point charges Q
1
, Q
2
,
and Q
3
in an initial empty space shown below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 55
P
1
P
2
P
3

Q
1
Q
2
Q
3
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
No work is required to transfer Q
1
from infinity to P
1

because the space is initially charge free and there is no
electric field.
The work done in transferring Q
2
from infinity to P
2
is
equal to the product of Q
2
and the potential V
21
at P
2

due to Q
1
.
Similarly, the work done in positioning Q
3
at P
3
is equal
to Q
3
(V
32
+V
31
), where V
32
and V
31
are the potentials at
P
3
due to Q
2
and Q
1
, respectively.

Hence the total work done in positioning the three
charges is:

If the charges were positioned in reverse order, then:
( )
32 31 3 21 2
3 2 1
0 V V Q V Q
W W W W
E
+ + + ·
+ + ·
( )
13 12 1 23 2
1 2 3
0 V V Q V Q
W W W W
E
+ + + ·
+ + ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 56
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC
FIELDS
Here, V
23
is the potential at P
2
due to Q
3
, V
12
and V
13
are
respectively the potentials at P
1
due to Q
2
and Q
3
. Thus
the two equations give:
Where V
1
, V
2
, and V
3
are the potentials at P
1
, P
2
, and P
3
,
respectively.

In general, if there are n point charges, the above
equation becomes:
( ) ( ) ( )
( )
3 3 2 2 1 1
3 3 2 2 1 1
32 31 3 23 21 2 13 12 1
2
1
2
V Q V Q V Q W
V Q V Q V Q
V V Q V V Q V V Q W
E
E
+ + · ∴
+ + ·
+ + + + + ·

·
·
n
k
k k E
V Q W
1
2
1
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 57
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

If, instead of point charges, the region has a continuous
charge distribution, the above summation becomes as
integration:

We can further refine the expression using volume
charge density by using the vector identities:
( )
( )
( ) e ch volume Vdv W
e ch surface VdS W
e ch line Vdl W
V E
S E
L E
arg
2
1
arg
2
1
arg
2
1

·
·
·
ρ
ρ
ρ
( )
( ) V A A V A V
A V V A A V
D
v
∇ − ∇ · ∇ ∴
∇ + ∇ · ∇
∇ ·
     
     
 
. . .
. . .
. ρ
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 58
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC
FIELDS

Therefore we obtain:

By applying the divergence theorem to the first
term on the right-hand side of the equation, we
have:

For point charges, V varies as 1/r, and D varies
as 1/r
2
; for dipoles, V varies as 1/r
2
and D varies
as 1/r
3
; and so on.
( )
( ) ( ) ( )
∫ ∫ ∫
∫ ∫
∇ − ∇ · ∇ ·
∇ · ·
dv V D dv D V Vdv D
Vdv D Vdv W
V E
     
 
.
2
1
.
2
1
.
2
1
.
2
1
2
1
ρ
( ) ( )
∫ ∫
∇ − ·
V S
E
dv V D S d D V W
   
.
2
1
.
2
1
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 59
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

Hence VD in the first term on the rhs must vary at least as 1/r
3

while dS varies as r
2
.

Consequently the first integral must tend to zero as the surface
dS becomes large.
Therefore W
E
reduces to:
( ) ( )

∫ ∫
· ∴
· ∇ − ·
V
o E
V V
E
dv E W
dv E D dv V D W
2
2
1
.
2
1
.
2
1
ε
   
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 60
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

EXAMPLE:

Three point charges, -1nC, 4nC, and 3nC, are located at
(0,0,0), (0,0,1), and (1,0,0), respectively. Find the energy in the
system.

SOLUTION:
[ ]
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
[ ] ( ) ( ) ( ) [ ]
J W
x x x V Q V Q V Q W
V
x x Q Q
V V V
V
x x Q Q
V V V
V
x x Q Q
V V V
V Q V Q V Q V Q W
E
E
o
o
o
o
o o
n
k
k k E
9 -
9 9 9
3 3 2 2 1 1
9
9
9
9
2 1
32 31 3
9
9
9
9
3 1
23 21 2
9
9
9
9
3 2
13 12 1
3 3 2 2 1 1
1
13.36x10
16.46 10 3 10.09 10 4 63 10 1
2
1
2
1
16.46
2
36
10
4
10 4
1
36
10
4
10 1
2 4
1 4
10.09
2
36
10
4
10 3
1
36
10
4
10 1
2 4
1 4
63
1
36
10
4
10 3
1
36
10
4
10 4
1 4 1 4
2
1
2
1
·
+ + − · + + · ∴
· +

· + · + ·
· +

· + · + ·
· + · + · + ·
+ + · ∑ ·
− − −

·
π
π
π
π
πε
πε
π
π
π
π
πε
πε
π
π
π
π
πε πε
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 61
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

An ideal dielectric or insulator is a material with no free
electrons in its lattice structure.

That is, all the electrons associated with an ideal
dielectric are strongly bound to its constituent
molecules.

These electrons experience very strong internal
restraining forces that oppose their random movements.

Therefore when an electric field is maintained within a
dielectric by an external source of energy, there is no
current.

However, under the influence of an electric field, the
molecules of a dielectric material experience distortion
in the sense that the centre of a positive charge of a
molecule no longer coincides with the centre of a
negative charge.

We then say the dielectric material is polarized; in such
a polarized state, the dielectric material contains a
large number of dipoles.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 62
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

A schematic diagram of a dielectric slab in its normal
state is shown above. In this case, there is no influence
of an external field.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 63
Fig.A: A dielectric in its normal state where the centre of a positive charge
coincides with that of a negative charge
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

The figure below shows the same dielectric material
under the influence of an external electric field.
E

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 64
Fig.B: A polarized dielectric showing the separation between charge pairs
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

The potential at a point P outside a polarized dielectric
material is shown in the figure below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 65
r

' r r R
 

− ·
' r

P
O
dv’
S’
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

Define the polarization vector, as the number of dipole
moments per unit volume:

Therefore for the volume dv’ in the figure, we can
represent the dipole moment as:

The potential at point P due to the dipole moment is
given by:
v
p
P
v

·
→ ∆

0
lim
' dv P p d

·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 66
'
4
ˆ
.
2
dv
R
R P
dV
o
πε

·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

But we have:

Using the vector identity:
( )
'
4
/ 1 ' .
'
4
ˆ
.
ˆ
1 1
'
2
2
dv
R P
dv
R
R P
dV
R
R R
o o
πε πε

· · ∴
·

,
`

.
|

  

( ) ( ) ( )
( ) ( )
'
'.
'.
4
1
'
4
/ 1 ' .
/ '. / '. / 1 ' .
dv
R
P
R
P
dv
R P
dV
R P R P R P
o o
]
]
]

,
`

.
|
∇ ·

· ∴
∇ − ∇ · ∇
  

 
     
πε πε
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 67
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

Now integrating over the volume v’ of the polarized
dielectric, we obtain the potential at point P as:

Applying the divergence theorem to the first term on the
right-hand side, we obtain:

Thus the potential at point P due to the polarized
dielectric is the algebraic sum of two terms: a surface
term and a volume term.
( )
]
]
]

,
`

.
|
∇ ·

·
' ' '
'
'.
' '.
4
1
v v
o
v
dv
R
P
dv
R
P
dV V
  

πε
( ) ( )
]
]
]

·

·
' ' '
'
'.
'
ˆ .
4
1
v s
n
o
v
dv
R
P
ds
R
a P
dV V
  
πε
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 68
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD
If we define the bound surface charge density, ρ
sb
,
and the bound volume charge density, ρ
vb
, as:

Thus the polarization of a dielectric material results
in bound charge distributions.

These bound charge distributions are not like free
charges: they are created by separating the charge
pairs mentioned earlier.
]
]
]

+

· ∴
∇ − ·
·
' '
' '
'.
ˆ .
v
vb
s
sb
vb
n sb
dv
R
ds
R
V
P
a P
ρ ρ
ρ
ρ
 

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 69
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

If a dielectric region contains the free charge
density in addition to the bound charge density,
the contribution due to the free charge density
must also be considered to determine the
electric field in the dielectric region. That is:

The right-hand side is simply the free charge
density. But the divergence of D is also the free
charge density, and it would be true as P goes
to 0. Therefore in general we have:
( )
v o
o
v
o
vb v
P E
P
E
ρ ε
ε
ρ
ε
ρ ρ
· + ∇ ∴
∇ −
·
+
· ∇
  
 
 
.
.
.
P E D
o
  
+ · ε
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 70
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRICS IN AN ELECTRIC FIELD

We can also express the polarization vector in terms of
the susceptibility of the medium, χ:

Here, (1+ χ) is called the relative permeability or the
dielectric constant, ε, of the medium. Therefore, in any
medium, the electrostatic fields satisfy the following
equations:
( ) E E E D
E P
r o o
o
   
 
ε ε ε χ ε
χ ε
· · + · ∴
·
1
E D
D
E X
v
 
 
 
ε
ρ
·
· ∇
· ∇
.
0
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 71
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

PROPERTIES OF MATERIALS

Just as electric fields can exist in free space, they can exist
in material media.

Materials are therefore broadly classified in terms of their
electrical properties as conductors and non-conductors.

Non-conducting materials are usually referred to as
insulators or dielectrics.

A material with high conductivity has very high electrical
conductivity σ>>1. This is the case for most metals.

Insulators or dielectrics, on the other hand, are materials
with low conductivity (σ<<1).

A material whose conductivity lies between those of metals
and insulators is called a semi-conductor.

The conductivity of metals generally increases with
decrease in temperature. At temperatures near absolute
zero (T=0
o
K), some conductors exhibit infinite conductivity,
and are called superconductors.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 72
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONVECTION CURRENT

Electric current is generally caused by the motion of
electric charges.

Convection current, as distinct from conduction current,
does not involve conductors and consequently does not
satisfy Ohm’s law.

Convection current occurs when current flows through an
insulating medium such as liquid, rarefied gas, or a
vacuum.

A beam of electrons in a vacuum tube, for example, is a
convection current.

The current through a given area is defined as the electric
charge passing through the area per unit time.

That is:
dt
dQ
I ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 73
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONVECTION CURRENT

Thus, in a current of one ampere, charge is being
transferred at a rate of one coulomb per second.

Consider the current filament shown below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 74
∆S
∆l
ρ
v
u
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONVECTION CURRENT
If there is a flow of charge, of density ρ
v
, at velocity:

If we define the current density at a given point as the
current through a unit normal area at that point, then
the y-directed current density J
y
is given by:
y v v
y
Su
t
l
S
t
Q
I
y u u
∆ ·

∆ ·

· ∆ ∴
·
ρ ρ
ˆ

u J
u
S
I
J
v
y v y

ρ
ρ
· ⇒
·

·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 75
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONVECTION CURRENT

The current I is the convection current, and J is the
convection current density in Amperes per square
meter.

The total current through a prescribed surface S is
therefore given by:

Compared with the general definition of flux, the
above equation shows that the current I through S is
merely the flux of the current density J.

·
S
S d J I
 
.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 76
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONDUCTION CURRENT

When an electric filed is applied to a conductor,
conduction current flows due to the drift motion of
electrons.

As the electrons move, they encounter some damping
forces called resistance.

The average drift velocity of the electrons is directly
proportional to the applied field.

Thus, for a conductor, we have:

Here, σ is the conductivity of the material in siemens
per meter (S/m), and J is known as the conduction
current density. The above equation is referred to
as Ohm’s law.
E J
 
σ ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 77
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND
RELAXATION TIME

Due to the principle of conservation of
charge, the time rate of decrease of charge
within a given volume must be equal to the
net outward flow through the closed surface
of the volume.
Thus the current I
out
coming out of the closed
surface is:
Here, Q
in
is the total charge enclosed by the
closed surface.

Invoking the divergence theorem, we have:

− · ·
dt
dQ
S d J I
in
out
 
.
∫ ∫
∇ ·
V
dv J S d J
   
. .
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 78
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND RELAXATION
TIME

But we also have:

Thus we have:

This is called the continuity equation, which is derived from
the principle of conservation of charge.

For steady currents, d/dt=0, and thus , showing that
the total charge leaving a volume is the same as the total
charge entering it.

Kirchhoff’s current law follows from this.
dv
t
dv
dt
d
dt
dQ
V v
v
v
in
∫ ∫

− · − · −
ρ
ρ
t
J dv J dv
t
v
V V
v

− · ∇ ⇒

∇ ·

ρ ρ
   
. .
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 79
0 . · ∇ J
 
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND RELAXATION
TIME

To determine the relaxation time, we use Ohm’s law
and Gauss’s laws:

Substituting these into the continuity equation, we
have:
ε
ρ
ρ
σ
v
v
E D
E J
· ∇ ⇒ · ∇
·
   
 
. .
( )
0
.
· +

− · · ∇
v
v
v v
t
t
E
ρ
ε
σ ρ
ρ
ε
σρ
σ
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 80
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND RELAXATION
TIME

The solution to the above first-order differential
equation is:
In the equation, ρ
vo
is the initial (or introduced) charge
density at t=0.

The equation shows that as a result of introducing
volume charge ρ
vo
at some point of the material,
there is a decay of volume charge density, ρ
v
.

Associated with this decay is charge movement
from the interior point at which it was
introduced to the surface of the material.

The decay time constant T is known as the relaxation
time or rearrangement time.
σ
ε
ρ ρ
·
·

T
e
T t
vo v
/
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 81
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND RELAXATION
TIME

The relaxation time, T, is the time it takes a (volume)
charge placed in the interior of a material to drop to 1/e
=0.368 of its initial value.

T is small for good conductors (metals) and very large
for insulators (dielectrics).
For example, for copper, σ=5.8x10
7
, and ε
r
=1, while for
quartz, with σ=10
-17
, and ε
r
=5.0, we have:
( )
( )
days x
x
T
x
x
x
T
o r
Quartz
o r
Copper
2 . 51 sec 10 42 . 4
10
10 84 . 8 ) 0 . 5 (
sec 10 53 . 1
10 8 . 5
10 84 . 8 ) 1 (
6
17
12
19
7
12
· · · · ·
· · · ·

σ
ε ε
σ
ε
σ
ε ε
σ
ε
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 82
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONTINUITY EQUATION AND
RELAXATION TIME

Thus we have a rapid decay of charge
within copper, which shows that for
good conductors, the relaxation time is
so short that that most of the charge will
vanish from the interior point and
appear on the surface as surface
charge.

On the other hand, for good insulators
like quartz, one may consider the
introduced volume charge to remain
wherever it is placed for a very long
time.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 83
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

So far we have considered the existence of the electric field
in a homogeneous medium.

If the field exists in a region consisting of two different media,
the conditions that the field must satisfy at the interface
separating the media are called boundary conditions.

The boundary conditions are helpful in determining the field
on one side of the boundary if the field on the other side of
the boundary is known.

To determine the boundary conditions, we need to use
Maxwell’s equations for electrostatic fields:

Here, the electric field intensity at the interface has been
decomposed into two components: the tangential component,
E
t
, and the normal component E
n
.
n t
enc
E n E t E
Q S d D
l d E
ˆ
ˆ
.
0 .
+ ·

·

·

 
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 84
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY
CONDITIONS

Consider the electric field E existing in a region
containing two different dielectrics characterized by
electric permitivities ε
1

o
ε
r1
, and ε
2

o
ε
r2
, as shown
below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 85
E
1
E
1n
E
1t
E
2
E
2n
E
2t
Medium 1, ε
1
Medium 2, ε
2
∆h
∆w
a b
c d
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY
CONDITIONS

Consider the electric field intensity existing in the region
consisting of two different dielectrics, shown in the figure.

The fields in medium 1 and medium 2 can be decomposed
as:

WE apply the first of the two Maxwell’s equations to the
closed path abcd of the figure, assuming the path is very
small. We obtain:

Thus the tangential component of E is continuous at the
interface.
n t
n t
E n E t E
E n E t E
2 2 2
1 1 1
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
+ ·
+ ·

t t
t t
h
n n t n n t
E E
w E w E l d E
h
E
h
E w E
h
E
h
E w E l d E
2 1
2 1
0
1 2 2 2 1 1
0 0 . lim
2 2 2 2
0 0 .
· ∴
· ∆ − ∆ ⇒

·

+

+ ∆ −

− ∆ · ⇒

·
→ ∆
 
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 86
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY
CONDITIONS

Consider now the pillbox (Gaussian surface) in the figure
below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 87
D
1
D
1n
D
1t
D
2
D
2n
D
2t
Medium 1, ε
1
Medium 2, ε
2
∆h
∆S
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY
CONDITIONS

If we allow ∆h →0, we have:
Here ρ
s
is the surface charge density placed at
the boundary.

If no surface charges exist at the interface,
then the normal component of D is continuous
at the interface; that is:
( )
( )
( )
s n n
s n n enc
h
n n t t enc
D D
S D D S Q S d D
D D S D D h r Q S d D
ρ
ρ
π
· − ∴
∆ · − ∆ ·

·
− ∆ + + ∆ ·

·
→ ∆
2 1
2 1
0
2 1 2 1
. lim
) ( 2 .
 
 
n n
D D
2 1
·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 88
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

We now use the boundary conditions to determine the
“refraction” of the electric field across the interface.
Consider, in the figure below, D
1
or E
1
and D
2
or E
2

making angles θ
1
and θ
2
with the normal as illustrated
below.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 89
D
1n
D
1t
D
2
D
2n
Medium 1, ε
1
Medium 2, ε
2
D
1
D
2t
E
2n
E
2
θ
2
θ
1
E
1n
E
1
E
1t
E
2t
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

DIELECTRIC-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

Using the equation for the tangential components of E, we
have:

Similarly, applying the equation relating the normal
components of D, we have (assuming there is no surface
charge at the interface):

Dividing these two equations, we have the law of refraction
at a boundary free of charge:
2 2 1 1
2 2 2 1 1 1
sin sin
sin sin
θ θ
θ θ
E E
E E E E
t t
· ∴
· · ·
2 2 2 1 1 1
2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1
cos cos
cos cos
θ ε θ ε
θ ε ε θ ε ε
E E
E E D E E D
n n n n
· ∴
· · · · ·
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 90
2
1
2
1
2
1
2 2
2 2 2
1 1
1 1 1
tan
tan
sin
cos
sin
cos
r
r
E
E
E
E
ε
ε
ε
ε
θ
θ
θ
θ ε
θ
θ ε
· · ⇒ ·
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONDUCTOR-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

If we let medium 2 to be a perfect conductor (σ →∞), from
Ohm’s law,

Good conductors like copper, silver, aluminium, etc, can be
regarded as perfect conductors, since σ is very large (σ∼10
7
).

To maintain a finite current density, J, for infinite conductivity,
it is required that as σ →∞, E →0.

If some charges are introduced within the conductor, the
charges will move to the conductor surface and redistribute
themselves such that the field inside the conductor vanishes.
According to Gauss’s law, if E=0, the divergence of E is also 0.
Thus a good conductor has no volume charge distribution.
E J
 
σ ·
0 . .
. .
· · ∇ · ∇ ∴

∫ ∫
· · ·
v
v v s
v enc
E D
dv D S d D dv Q
ρ ε
ρ
   
   
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 91
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

CONDUCTOR-DIELECTRIC BOUNDARY CONDITIONS

To determine the boundary conditions, we incorporate the fact
that E →0, inside a good conductor.

Therefore as ∆h →0, we have:

Thus the tangential component of E vanishes at the interface.

Similarly, considering the normal component of D, we again
incorporate the fact that E →0, inside a good conductor. We
have

An important application of the fact that E=0 inside a good
conductor is in electrostatic screening or electrostatic
shielding.
0
2 1
· ·
t t
E E
( )
s n s n
s n n s n n
D D
E E D D
ρ ρ
ρ ε ε ρ
· ⇒ − · ∴
· − ⇒ · −
2
2 2 1 1 2 1
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 92
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

INTRODUCTION

The procedure for determining the electric field E when
using Coulomb’s law or Gauss’s law assumes a known
charge distribution or potential V in the region.

In most practical situations, however, neither the charge
distribution nor the potential distribution is known.

In the case of practical electrostatic problems, only
electrostatic conditions (charge and potential) at some
boundaries are known. It is then desired to find E and V
throughout the region.

Such problems are usually tackled using Poisson’s or
Laplace’s equation.

They are referred to as boundary-value problems.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 93
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

POISSON’S AND LAPLACE’S
EQUATIONS

Poisson’s and Laplace’s equations are easily
derived from Gauss’s law and the gradient of the
potential field:

Substituting the second equation into the first
gives, for a homogeneous medium, Poisson’s
equation, namely:
V E
E D
v
∇ − ·
· ∇ · ∇
 
  
ρ ε . .
( )
ε
ρ
ρ ε
v
v
V
V
− · ∇ ∴
· ∇ − ∇
2
.

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 94
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

POISSON’S AND LAPLACE’S EQUATIONS

A special case of Poisson’s equation occurs when the
volume charge distribution ρ
v
=0. Then we have
Laplace’s equation, namely:

The Laplacian operator, ∇
2
, is defined in Cartesian,
cylindrical, and spherical coordinates as:
0
2
· ∇ V
0
sin
1
sin
sin
1 1
0
1 1
0
2
2
2 2 2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
·

+

,
`

.
|

+

,
`

.
|

· ∇
·

+

+
,
`

.
|

· ∇
·

+

+

· ∇
φ θ
θ
θ
θ
θ
φ ρ
ρ
ρ
ρ ρ
V
r
V
r
r
V
r
r
r
V
z
V V V
V
z
V
y
V
x
V
V
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 95
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR SOLVING
POISSON’S OR LAPLACE’S EQUATIONS

The following procedure may be used in solving a given
boundary-value problem involving Poisson’s or Laplace’s

Solve Laplace’s or Poisson’s equation either using direct
integration (when V is a function of a single variable like x
or y, or r), or using the separation of variables (if V is a
function of more than one variable). The solution at this
stage is not unique.

Apply the boundary conditions to determine a unique
solution for V. Imposing the given boundary conditions
makes the solution unique.

Having obtained V, find E from E=-∇V, and D=εE.

If desired, find the charge Q induced in a conductor using
Q=∫ρ
s
dS where ρ
s
=D
n
, and D
n
is the component of D normal
to the conductor.

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 96
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR SOLVING
POISSON’S OR LAPLACE’S
EQUATIONS

EXAMPLE:

In a one-dimensional device, the charge density is
given by:

If E=0 at x=0 and V=0 at x=a, find V and E.
a
x
o v
ρ ρ ·
( )
x
a
x
E
x a
a
V
o
o
ˆ
2
;
6
2
3 3
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
·
− ·

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 97
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR SOLVING
POISSON’S OR LAPLACE’S EQUATIONS

Solution:
( )
3 3
2
2 2
3
2 1
3
2
1
0
1
2
2
2
2
6
) (
6
0 ) (
6 6
) (
ˆ
2
0
2
x a
a
x V
a
K x V K
a
x
K x K
a
x
x V
x
a
x
E
K E E K
a
x
x
V
a
x
x
V
a
x
V
o
o
a x
o o
o
x
o
o o v
− · ∴
· ⇒ · ⇒ + − · + + − ·
· ∴
· · ⇒ − · + − ·

− ·

⇒ − · − · ∇
·
·
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ
ε
ρ

ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 98
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

EXAMPLE:

Two semi-infinite conducting planes φ=0 and φ=π/6 are
separated by an infinitesimal insulating gap as shown below. If
V(φ=0)=0 and V(φ=π/6)=100V, calculate E and V in the region
between the planes.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 99
z
x
y
φ
o
gap
V
o
0 V
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

SOLUTION

As V depends only on φ, Laplace’s equations in
cylindrical coordinates becomes:

Multiplying both sides by ρ
2
and integrating twice, we
obtain:

To evaluate the integration constants A and B, we
apply the boundary conditions.
0
1 1 1
2
2
2 2
2
2
2
2
2
·

·

+

+
,
`

.
|

· ∇
φ ρ φ ρ ρ
ρ
ρ ρ
V
z
V V V
V
B A V
d
V d
+ · ⇒ · φ
φ
0
2
2
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 100
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

SOLUTION

WE obtain:
φ
πρ
φ
φ ρ
φ
π
φ
π
π
π φ
φ
ˆ
600
ˆ
1
600
600
100
6
0
6 /
0

,
`

.
|
· − · ∇ − ·

,
`

.
|
· · ∴
· ⇒ · ·
· ·
·
·
d
dV
V E
A V
A A V
B V
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 101
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

EXAMPLE
Two conducting plates of size 1X5 m are inclined at φ
o
=45
o
to
each other with a gap of 4 mm separating them as shown
below. Determine an approximate value of the charge per
plate if the plates are maintained at a potential difference of
V
o
=50V. Assume that the medium between them has ε
r
=1.5.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 102
z
x
y
φ
o
gap
V
o
0 V
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

SOLUTION

We can determine V and E, as before. But at the interface,
D
n

s
; that is, the surface charge density equals the
normal component of D. We then have:

,
`

.
|
· ·
,
`

.
|
· ·

,
`

.
|
· − · ∇ − ·

,
`

.
|
· · ∴
· ⇒ · ·
· ·
·
·
πρ
ε
φ
πρ
ε
ε
φ
πρ
φ
φ ρ
φ
π
φ
π
π
φ
π φ
φ
200
;
ˆ
200
ˆ
200
ˆ
1
200
200
50
4
0
4 /
0
D D E D
d
dV
V E
A V
A A V
B V
n
 
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 103
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS –
BOUNDARY VALUE PROBLEMS

SOLUTION

To obtain the charge per plate, we need to get the
total flux, which equals the total charge enclosed:
nC
C C
dzd
Ddzd S d D
z
S z
3 . 23
2.3325x10 10 1.555x
ln 5
200 200
.
8 - 8 -
r
1
004 . 0
1
004 . 0
5
0
1
004 . 0
5
0
·
· ·

,
`

.
|
·
∫ ∫

,
`

.
|
·
∫ ∫ ∫
· · Ψ
· ·
· ·
ε
ρ
π
ε
ρ
πρ
ε
ρ
ρ
ρ
 
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 104