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# ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

UKZN, Durban

## 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 6x1018 electrons; it is a
very
ENEL2FT Fieldlarge
Theory unit of charge because the charge
Electrostatic of an electron is
Fields 3
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

• COULOMB’S LAW
• Coulomb’s law states that the force F between two point
charges Q1 and Q2 is:
– a) Along the line joining the charges
– b) Directly proportional to the product Q1Q2 of the charges
– c) Inversely proportional to the square of the distance R
between them.
• Mathematically, Coulomb’s law
kQ Q is expressed as:
F= 1 2
2
R

## • 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 εo is defined as the permittivity of free space (in
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 4
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• COULOMB’S LAW
• The constant k is defined as:
1
k= m/ F
4πε o
10−9
εo = ≈ 8.854 x10−12 F / m
36π
• Then the equation of force becomes:
Q1Q2
F=
4πε o R 2

## • If point charges Q1 and Q2 are located at points having

position vectors r1 and r2, respectively, then the force F12 on
Q2 due to Q1 is given by:
 QQ
F12 = 1 2
aˆ12
4πε o R 2

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 5

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• COULOMB’S LAW

F21
Q1
R12
Q2
F12

origin

• Where:
   
R12 = r2 − r1; R = R12

R12
aˆ12 = 
R12

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 6

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

• COULOMB’S LAW
• We may re-write Coulomb’s equation as:
 
 Q1Q2  Q1Q2 ( r2 − r1 )
F12 = R =
3 12  3
4πε o R 4πε o r2 − r1

F21 = − F12

## • 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 Q1 and Q2
must be large compared with the linear dimensions of the
bodies.
• Q1 and Q2 must be static (at rest).
• The signs of Q1 and Q2 must be taken into account.
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 7
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 Q1, Q2, ..,QN
located respectively at points with position vectors r1,r2,..,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 Q1, Q2, ..,Q
 N.Hence:   
 QQ1 ( r − r1 ) QQ2 ( r − r2 ) QQN ( r − rN )
F=  3 +  3 + .. +   3
4πε r − r1 4πε r − r2 4πε r − rN
 
 Q N Qk ( r − rk )
F= ∑
4πε o k =1 r − rk 3

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 8

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:
 1 
E= F
Q

## • 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 r1 is obtained as:
 
 Q  Q( r − r1 )
E= R=  3
4πε o R 3
4πε o r − r1

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 9

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • COULOMB’S LAW: ELECTRIC FIELD INTENSITY

• For N point charges Q1,Q2,..,QN located at positions r1,r2,..,rN,
the electric field intensity at point r is obtained as:

 Q1 ( r − r1 )    
Q2 ( r − r2 ) QN ( r − rN )
E=  3 +   3 + .. +   3
4πε r − r1 4πε r − r2 4πε r − rN
 
 1 N Qk ( r − rk )
E= ∑
4πε o k =1 r − rk 3
• 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

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:
∆q dq
ρ v = lim = (C / m3 )
∆v →0 ∆v dv

## • Where ∆q is the charge contained in ∆v. The variation of ρv with

spatial location is called its spatial distribution. The total charge
contained in volume v is given by:
Q = ∫ ρ v dv Coulombs
v

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 11

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, ρs, defined as:
∆q dq
ρ s = lim =
∆s →0 ∆s ds

## • 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
ρl, defined as: ∆q dq
ρl = lim = ( C / m)
∆l →0 ∆l dl

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 12

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE DISTRIBUTIONS
• The electric field intensity due to each of the charge
distributions ρl,ρs,and ρv 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:
 ρ dl
E = ∫ l 2 rˆ
4πε o R
 ρ ds
E = ∫ s 2 rˆ
4πε o R
 ρ dv
E = ∫ v 2 rˆ
4πε o R
• We shall now apply these formulas to specific charge
distributions.

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 13

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CONTINUOUS CHARGE
DISTRIBUTIONS – AN INFINITE LINE CHARGE

## • Consider a line charge with a uniform charge density ρL

extending from -∞ to +∞ along the z-axis, as shown below.

dz
 r̂
α
R − ẑ
z âR
α r̂
Infinite r 
line charge dE

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 14

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE CHARGE

• The charge element dQ associated with element dz of the
line is:
dQ = ρ L dz

## • The electric field intensity at point P a distance r from the

line, due to the elemental charge ρ Ldz is given by:
 ρ L dz ρ L dz
dE = aˆ =
2 R 3
R
4πε o R 4πε o R

R 
⇒ aˆ R = ; R = R
R

• R = r 2 + z 2 ; we
From geometry, r tan α ⇒ R = r 2 + r 2 tan 2 α = r secα
z = obtain:
dz d d  sin α 
=r tan α = r   = r sec 2
α ⇒ dz = r sec 2
αdα
dα dα dα  cosα 

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 15

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE CHARGE
• Also, for the unit vector we have:

aˆ R = rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α
 ρ L  ( rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α ) r sec 2 αdα  ρL
∴ dE =   = [ ( rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α ) dα ]
4πε o  r sec α
2 2
 4πε o r
• If we now integrate over the entire line, then α varies from –
π/2 to +π/2 as z varies from -∞ to +∞; thus:

E=
ρL π / 2
4πε o r −π / 2 4πε o r
{
(∫ rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α ) dα = ρ L [ rˆ sin α ]π−π/ 2/ 2 + [ zˆ cosα ]π−π/ 2/ 2 }
 ρL
∴E = rˆ
2πε o r
• In normal cylindrical coordinates, the expression becomes:

 ρL
E= ρˆ
2πε o ρ

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 16

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE LINE CHARGE

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

##  ρ L  ( rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α ) r sec 2 αdα  ρL

dE =   = [ ( rˆ cosα − zˆ sin α ) dα ] = rˆdEr + zˆdEz
4πε o  r sec α
2 2
 4πε o r
• One observes that at the observation point P, the
contribution to Ez 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:

E z = 0; ⇒ E = rˆEr + zˆE z = rˆEr

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 17

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO CIRCULAR RING OF CHARGE

 z ẑ âR
dE  α
αR
h − ρ̂
Circular ring y
of charge ϕ
ρ
dl
• x
Consider a circular ring of charge of radius ρ, having
uniform charge density ρl C/m. The ring is placed on the x-y
plane.

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 18

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:
 dQ
dE =  2 aˆ R
4πε o R
dQ = ρ L dl = ρ L ( ρdϕ )

R = ρ 2 + h 2 ; aˆ R = − ρˆ sin α + zˆ cosα
 ρ L ( ρdϕ )
∴ dE = ( − ρˆ sin α + zˆ cosα )

(
4πε o ρ + h
2 2
)
⇒ dE = ρˆdE ρ + zˆdE z

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 19

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
dEρ , there is a corresponding opposite element –dl giving
rise to an opposite elemental electric field strength –dEρ .
Therefore the ρ components of dE cancel; this implies that
dE has only a z-component. Thus:
 ρ L ( ρdϕ )
ρdE ρ = 0, ⇒ dE = zˆdE z =
ˆ ( zˆ cosα )
(
4πε o ρ 2 + h 2 )
 2π ρ L ( zˆ cosα )( ρdϕ ) ρ L ( zˆρ cosα )
E= ∫ =
0 (
4πε o ρ + h
2 2
) (
2ε o ρ 2 + h 2 )
• Simplifying, we obtain:
 ρ L ( zˆρ cosα ) zˆρhρ L zˆ ( 2πρρ L ) h zˆQh
E= = = =
( ) (
2ε o ρ 2 + h 2 2ε o ρ 2 + h 2 ) 3/ 2
(
4πε o ρ + h 2
)
2 3/ 2
(
4πε o ρ + h
2
)
2 3/ 2

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 20

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 ρs C/m2. We are
required to find the electric field intensity due to it
everywhere above thesheet.
dE z

α R âR ẑ
h α
y − ρ̂
ϕ
ρ dϕ dρ

x
dA

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 21

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:
dQ = ρ s dA; dA = ( ρdϕ ) dρ ⇒ dQ = ρ s ( ρdϕ ) dρ

• We also derive
 the following relationships from the sketch:
R = R = h 2 + ρ 2 ; ρ = h tan α ; ⇒ R = h 1 + tan 2 α = h secα
dρ d  sin α 
=h = h sec 2
α ; ⇒ d ρ = h sec 2
αdα
dα dα  cosα 
aˆ R = zˆ cosα − ρˆ sin α
• Then the electric field intensity arising from this elemental
charge is:
 dQaˆ R ρ s ( ρdϕdρ ) ρ s  (h tan αdϕ )(h sec 2 αdα )[ zˆ cosα − ρˆ sin α ] 
dE = = aˆ R =  
4πε o R 2
4πε o R 2
4πε o  h 2 sec 2 α 

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 22

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE CHARGE
 ρ
dE = s { [ zˆ tan α cosα − ρˆ tan α sin α ] dαdϕ }
4πε o
 ρ s  sin 2 α  
∴ dE =  z
ˆ sin α − ρ
ˆ  d αd ϕ  = zˆdE z + ρˆdE ρ
4πε o  cosα  
• 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, dEz in the z-
direction, and the other is dEρ in the ρ direction.
• For the ρ component of dE, for each value of dEρ, there is a
canceling value, -dEρ, from the opposite element. Thus the ρ
components cancel each other out, and we have left only
the z-component:
 ρ s 2π π / 2  ρ s π / 2  ρs
E= ∫  ∫ ( zˆ sin α ) dα  dϕ =  ∫ ( zˆ sin α ) dα  = zˆ = zˆE z
4πε o 0  0  2ε o  0  2ε o

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 23

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • ELECTRIC FIELDS DUE TO AN INFINITE SURFACE CHARGE

• For a point located below the charge sheet, the electric field
intensity is:
 ρ
E = − zˆ s
2ε o
• If we consider two infinite parallel, oppositely-charged charge
sheets, one with charge density ρs, and the other with
opposite charge density –ρs C/m2, the total electric field
between the two plates is given by:
 ρ  ( − ρs ) 
E = zˆ s + − zˆ
2ε o  2ε o 
 ρ
∴ E = zˆ s
εo
• 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

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC FLUX DENSITY
• Let us define a vector field, D, as:
 
D = εE

## • Where ε is the electrical permittivity of the medium. Thus D

is independent of the medium. Define the electric flux, Ψ,
as:
 
Ψ = ∫ D.dS

## • The electric flux is measured in Coulombs, and therefore

the vector D is called the electric flux density, measured in
C/m2.
• 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,
 ρ dv
D = ∫ v 2 aˆ R
4πR

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 25

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:  
Ψ = Qenc ⇒ Ψ = ∫S D.dS = Qenc

## • Where Qenc=total charge enclosed.

 
Q = ∫ ρ v dv ⇒ ∫ D.dS = ∫ ρ v dv
v s v

## • 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
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 thiszcase, as shown below.
P 
D
r
Q y

Gaussian Surface
x

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 27

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:
  
Q = ∫ D.dS = ∫ Dr rˆ.dS
V V

dS = rˆ( rdθ )( r sin θdϕ )
π 2π
 
∴ Q = Dr ∫  ∫ r 2 dϕ  sin θdθ = Dr 4πr 2
0 0 
 Q
∴ D = rˆ
4πr 2

## • From this, we can determine E to be:

   Q
D = ε o E ⇒ E = rˆ
4ε oπr 2

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 28

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.
z
Line charge
ρ L C/m
Gaussian
surface
ρ P
L 
D
y
x
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 29
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A LINE CHARGE

• D is constant on and normal to the cylindrical Gaussian
surface. Thus, 
D = ρˆDρ

## • If we apply Gauss’s law to an arbitrary

 length L of the line,
Qenc = ρ L L = ∫ D.dS
we have: 
dS = ρˆ ( ρdϕdz )
∴ Qenc = ρ L L = Dρ 2 ρπL
 ρ  ρL
∴ D = ρˆ L ⇒ Eρˆ
2 ρπ 2ε o ρπ

## • 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
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY

CHARGED SPHERE

Gaussian surface

r a
a
r≤a r
r≥a
• Consider a sphere of radius a with a uniform charge ρv
C/m3.

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 31

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 surface
of radius r is:
2π π r
2
Qenc = ∫ ρ v dv = ∫ ∫ ∫ r sin θdrdθdϕ
ϕ = 0θ = 0 r = 0

4πr 3
Qenc = ρv
3

## • The total flux is given by:

 
( )
2π π
Ψ = ∫ D.dS = Dr ∫ ∫ r 2 sin θdθdϕ = Dr 4πr 2
ϕ =0 θ = 0

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 32

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY

CHARGED SPHERE
• Thus we have:
4πr 3
Ψ = Qenc ⇒ 4πr Dr = 2
ρv
3
 r
∴ D = rˆ , 0 ≤ r ≤ a
3

## • For r≥a, the charge enclosed by the Gaussian surface is

the entire charge in this case, that is:
2π π a 4πa 3
Qenc = ∫ ρ v dv = ρ v ∫ ∫ ∫ r sin θdrdθdϕ =
2
ρv
ϕ =0 θ =0 r =0 3
• Similarly, the flux is given by:
 
(
Ψ = ∫ D.dS = 4πr 2 Dr )

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 33

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A UNIFORMLY

CHARGED SPHERE
• Hence we obtain,
(
4πr Dr =
2
)
4πa 3
3
ρv
 a3 ρv
⇒ D = rˆ 2 , r ≥ a
3r

## • Thus from the foregoing, D is everywhere given by:

 rρ v
rˆ , r≤a
  3
D= 3
rˆ a ρ v , r ≥ a
 3r 2

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 34

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • APPLICATION OF GAUSS’S LAW TO A AN INFINITE SHEET

OF CHARGE
• Consider the infinite sheet of uniform charge with charge
density ρs C/m2 lying on the z-0 plane (xy-plane).
z

Infinite sheet of D
charge, ρ s C/m2

Area A

x  Gaussian surface
D
ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 35
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: D = zˆDz
   
∫ D.dS = Q = Dz  ∫ dS + ∫ dS 
top bottom 

## • Note that D has no x- and y- components, hence Dx=0, Dy=0.

• If the top and bottom
Q = ρ s Aof
=Ψthe
=Dpillbox
( A + A) each
= 2 ADhas area A, then
z z
we get: 
 ρs  D ρ
∴ D = zˆ ⇒ E = = zˆ s
2 εo 2ε o

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 36

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
y
dy
 q

E E
x

electric field 
E = − yˆ E

## • 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
ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

• ELECTRIC POTENTIAL
 
Fe = qE = − yˆ qE
• The force exerted is in the negative y-direction.
• If we attempt to move the charge along the positive y-
direction, against the force Fe, we will need to provide an
external force Fext to counteract Fe, 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:
  
Fext = − Fe = − qE

## • The work done, or energy expended, in moving any object a

vector differential distance dl under the influence of force
Fext is:    
dW = F .dl = − qE.dl
ext

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 39

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

• ELECTRIC POTENTIAL
• If the charge is moved a distance dy along y, then:
dW = −q( − yˆ E ) . yˆdy = qEdy

## • The differential electric potential energy dW per unit charge

is called the differential electric potential, or differential
voltage, dV.
• That is, dW  
dV = = − E.dl ( J / C or V )
q

• 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

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ELECTRIC POTENTIAL
• Thus the potential difference between any two points P2
and P1 is obtained by integrating dV along the path between
P1 and P2. That is: V = ∫ dV
P2 P2 
V21 = V2 − V1 = ∫ dV = ∫ E.dl
P1 P1

## • Where V1 and V2 are the electric potentials at points P1 and

P2, respectively.
• The result of the line integral above should be independent
of the specific path of integration between points P1 and P2.
• It is also readily seen that Pthe2 integral
P2   of the electrostatic field E
V22 = Vcontour
around any closed 2 − V2 = ∫ is = ∫ E.dl = ∫ E.dl = 0
dV zero:
P2 P2 C
      
But ∫ E.dl = ∫ ∇xE.dS ⇒∇xE = 0
C S

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 41

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 V1=0 when P1 is at infinity, the electric
potential at any point P is given
P  
by:
V = − ∫ E.dl

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 42

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:  q
E = aˆ R (V / m)
4πε o R 2

## • 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:
R  R q  q
V = − ∫ E.dl = − ∫  aˆ R 
2
.( ˆ
a R dR ) = (V )
∞ ∞ 4πε o R  4πε o R
• If the charge q is at a location other than the origin,
specified by a source position vector R1, then the potential
V at observation position vector R becomes:
q
V=   (V )
4πε o R − R1

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 43

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 q1, q2, ..,qN having
position vectors R1, R2, ..,N RN, the electric potential is:
1 q
V= ∑  i  (V )
4πε o i =1 R − Ri

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 44

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 qi with: ρ dv; ρ ds; ρ dl
v s l

## • Then, converting the summation into integration, we

1 ρv
obtain: V ( R) = ∫ dv (volume distribution)
4πε o V R
1 ρs
V ( R) = ∫ dS ( surface distribution)
4πε o S R
1 ρl
V ( R) = ∫ dl (line distribution)
4πε o L R

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 45

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS

## • ELECTRIC FIELD AS A FUNCTION OF ELECTRIC

POTENTIAL
• We have seen that:
 
dV = − E.dl

## • If we resolve E and dl into rectangular coordinates, we

 
have:E = xˆE x + yˆ E y + zˆE z ; dl = xˆdx + yˆ dy + zˆdz
 
∴ E.dl = ( xˆE x + yˆ E y + zˆE z ).( xˆdx + yˆ dy + zˆdz ) = E x dx + E y dy + E z dz
∂V ∂V ∂V
dV = dx + dy + dz
∂x ∂y ∂z
∂V ∂V ∂V
∴ Ex = − ; Ey = − ; Ez = − ;
∂x ∂y ∂z

 
• Thus E = −∇V

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 46

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• EXAMPLE:
• Given the potential function:
10
V= 2
sin θ cos φ
r

• 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 (1,30o, 120o) to B(4,90o,60o)

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 47

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• SOLUTION:
   ∂V 1 ∂V ˆ 1 ∂V ˆ
E = −∇V = − rˆ + θ+ φ
 ∂r r ∂θ r sin θ ∂φ 
20 10 10
= 3 sin θ cos φrˆ − 3 cosθ cos φθˆ + 3 sin φφˆ
r r r
  20  20
E =  rˆ − 0θˆ + 0φˆ  = rˆ V / m = 2.5rˆ V / m
( 2,π / 2, 0 )  8  8
  10 −9  20  −11
D = εoE =  rˆ  = 2.21x10 C / m2
36π  8 

B 
W = QV AB = −Q ∫ E.dl = Q(VB − V A )
A
 10 10 
= Q  2 sin θ cos φ − 2 sin θ cos φ 
 r ( 4,90 o ,60 o ) r (1,30 o ,120 o ) 

( )10 10
= 10 x10 − 6  sin 90 o cos 60 o − sin 30 o cos120 o  = 10 −5 (

)10 −
− 10 
4 
16 1  32
∴W = 2.8125x10 - 5 J

## 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.
z

r1
θ
r2

+Q
r
d y

-Q
An Eectric Dipole
x

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 49

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE
• The potential at point P(r,θ,φ) is given by:
Q 1 1  Q  r2 − r1 
V=  r − r  = 4πε  r r 
4πε o  1 2 o  1 2 
• Where r1 and r2 are the distances between P and +Q and –Q,
respectively.
• If r>>d,
2 then:
2 d 
2
r =r +
1 − 2r (d / 2) cosθ ≈ r 2 − 2r (d / 2) cosθ
 
2
∴ r1 = r 2 − 2r (d / 2) cosθ = r 1 − (d / r ) cosθ ≈ r − (d / 2) cosθ
2
d 
r22 = r +   + 2r (d / 2) cosθ ≈ r 2 + 2r (d / 2) cosθ
2
2
∴ r2 = r 2 + 2r (d / 2) cosθ = r 1 + (d / r ) cosθ ≈ r + (d / 2) cosθ
∴ r2 − r1 ≈ d cosθ
( )(
r1r2 = r 1 − (d / r ) cosθ r 1 + (d / r ) cosθ = r 2 ) (( (1 − (d / r ) cosθ ) ( 1 + (d / r ) cosθ ) ))
= r 2  1 − [ (d / r ) cosθ ] 2  ≈ r 2
 
Q  r2 − r1  Qd cosθ
∴V =  rr =
4πε o  1 2  4πε o r
2

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 50

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE
• Define the dipole moment p as:
 
p = Qd

Qd cosθ p.rˆ
V= 2
=
4πε o r 4πε o r 2

## • The electric field due to the dipole with centre at the

origin, is:
   ∂V 1 ∂V ˆ
E = −∇V = −  rˆ + θ
 ∂ r r ∂ θ 
Qd cosθ Qd sin θ ˆ
= 3
ˆ+
r 3
θ
2πε o r 4πε o r

∴E =
p
[2 cos θ ˆ + sin θθˆ
r ]
4πε o r 3

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 51

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE
• Notice that a point charge is a monopole, and its electric
filed varies inversely as r2, while its potential varies
inversely as r.
• For the dipole, we notice that the electric field varies
inversely as r3, while its potential varies inversely as r2.
• The electric fields due to the presence of a quadrupole
(consisting of two dipoles) vary inversely as r4, while the
corresponding potential varies inversely as r3.

• EXAMPLE:
• Two dipoles have dipole moments p1 and p2 are located at
points (0,0,2) and
 (0,0,3),−respectively.
 Find the potential at
the origin if: p1 = −5 x10 9 zˆ Cm; p 2 = 9 x10 − 9 zˆ Cm

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 52

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• THE ELECTRIC DIPOLE
• SOLUTION:
• The potential is given
  by:    
2 pk .rk 1  p1.r1 p2 .r2 
V= ∑ =  3 + 3 
3
k =1 4πε o rk 4πε o  r1 r2 
  
p1 = −5 x10 − 9 zˆ ; r1 = (0,0,0) − (0,0,−2) = 2 zˆ; r1 = r1 = 2
  
p2 = 9 x10 − 9 zˆ; r2 = (0,0,0) − (0,0,3) = −3 z; r2 = r2 = 3
ˆ

1  − 10 x10 − 9 27 x10 − 9   10 
∴V =  −  = 9  − − 1 = −20.25V
10 − 9  8 27   8 

36π

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 53

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• EXAMPLE:
• An electric dipole of
 dipole moment p is located at the
−12
origin, where: p = 100 x10 Cm

## • Find the electric filed intensity E and potential V at the

following points:
• A) (0,0,10).
• B) (1,π/3,π/2)

• ANS: A) E = 1.8 x10 −3 rˆV / m; V = 9 x10 −3V

( )
B) E = 0.9rˆ + 0.78θˆ x10 −3V / m; V = 0.45V

## 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 Q1, Q2,
and Q3 in an initial empty space shown below.

P1
Q1

P2

P3
Q2

Q3

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 55

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• No work is required to transfer Q1 from infinity to P1
because the space is initially charge free and there is no
electric field.
• The work done in transferring Q2 from infinity to P2 is equal
to the product of Q2 and the potential V21 at P2 due to Q1.
• Similarly, the work done in positioning Q3 at P3 is equal to
Q3 (V32+V31), where V32 and V31 are the potentials at P3 due
to Q2 and Q1, respectively.
• Hence the total work = W1 +inWpositioning
WEdone 2 + W3 the three charges
is: = 0 + Q2V21 + Q3 (V31 + V32 )

• E = W3positioned
If the chargesWwere + W2 + W1 in reverse order, then:
= 0 + Q2V23 + Q1 (V12 + V13 )

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 56

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• Here, V23 is the potential at P2 due to Q3, V12 and V13 are
respectively the potentials at P1 due to Q2 and Q3. Thus the
two equations = Q1 (V12 + V13 ) + Q2 (V21 + V23 ) + Q3 (V31 + V32 )
2WEgive:
= Q1V1 + Q2V2 + Q3V3
1
∴WE = ( Q1V1 + Q2V2 + Q3V3 )
2

• Where V1, V2, and V3 are the potentials at P1, P2, and P3,
respectively.
1 n
• In general, if there are
becomes:
= charges,
WEn point
2 k =1

QkVk the above equation

## 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
WE = ∫ ρ LVdl ( line ch arg e )
integration: 1
2
WE = ∫ ρ SVdS ( surface ch arg e )
1
2
WE = ∫ ρV Vdv ( volume ch arg e )
1
2

## • We can further refine the expression using volume charge

  identities:
density by using the vector
ρ v = ∇.D
  
( )
 
∇.VA = A.∇V + V ∇. A
( )
    
∴V ∇. A = ∇.VA − A.∇V

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 58

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• ENERGY DENSITY IN ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• Therefore we obtain:
1 1  
WE = ∫ ρV Vdv = ∫ ∇.D Vdv
2 2
( )
(
1  
) 1  
( 1 
)
= ∫ ∇.D Vdv = ∫ ∇.VD dv − ∫ D.∇V dv
2 2 2
( )
• By applying the divergence theorem to the first term on the
right-hand side of the equation, we have:

( ) ( )
1   1 
WE = ∫ VD .dS − ∫ D.∇V dv
2S 2V

## • For point charges, V varies as 1/r, and D varies as 1/r2; for

dipoles, V varies as 1/r2 and D varies as 1/r3; and so on.

## ENEL2FT Field Theory Electrostatic Fields 59

ELECTROSTATIC FIELDS
• Hence VD in the first term on the rhs must vary at least as 1/r3 while
dS varies as r2.
• Consequently the first integral must tend to zero as the surface dS
becomes large.
• Therefore WE reduces to:
1 
( )
1  
WE = − ∫ D.∇V dv = ∫ D.E dv
2V 2V
( )
1
∴WE = ∫ ε 2
o E dv
2V

## 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:
1 n 1
WE = ∑ Qk Vk = [ Q1V1 + Q2V2 + Q3V3 ]
2 k =1 2
Q2 Q3 4 x10 − 9 3 x10 − 9
V1 = V12 + V13 = + = + = 63V
4πε o (1) 4πε o (1) 10 − 9 10 − 9
4π (1) 4π (1)
36π 36π
Q1 Q3 − 1x10 − 9 3 x10 − 9
V2 = V21 + V23 = + = + = 10.09V
4πε o (1) 4πε o 2 ( )

10 − 9
(1) 4π 10 − 9
2
36π 36π
Q1 Q2 − 1x10 − 9 4 x10 − 9
V3 = V31 + V32 = + = + = 16.46V
4πε o (1) 4πε o 2 ( )

10 − 9
(1) 4π 10 − 9
2
36π 36π
1 1
[( ) ( )
∴WE = [ Q1V1 + Q2V2 + Q3V3 ] = − 1x10 − 9 63 + 4 x10 − 9 10.09 + 3x10 − 9 16.46
2 2
( ) ]
WE = 13.36x10 - 9 J