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# A particle with charge +2 nC (1 nanoCoulomb=10

-9
C) is located
at the origin. What is the electric field due to this particle at a
location <-0.2,-0.2,-0.2> m?
r

Solution:
1. Distance and direction:

Example Problem
= _ − _
= −0.2, −0.2, −0.2 − 0, 0, 0
= (−0.2)
2
+(−0.2)
2
+(−0.2)
2
= 0.35m
=

=
−0.2, −0.2, −0.2
0.35
= −0.57, −0.57, −0.57

1
=
1
4
0

1

2

2. The magnitude of the electric field:
3. The electric field in vector form:
Example Problem
=
1
4
0

2

= 9 × 10
9
Nm
2
C
2
2 × 10
−9
C
0.35 m
2

= 147
N
C

=

= 147
N
C
−0.57, −0.57, −0.57

= −84, −84, −84
N
C

1
=
1
4
0

1

2

A penny carrying a small amount of positive charge Q
p

exerts an electric force F on a nickel carrying a large
amount of positive charge Q
n
that is a distance d away (Q
n

> Q
p
). Which one of the following is not true?

A. The electric force exerted on the penny by the nickel is
also equal to F.

B. The number of electrons in the penny is less than the
number of protons in the penny.

C. ≈

, if d is small compared to the size of the

coins.

D. ≈

, if d is large compared to the size of the

coins.
Clicker Question 1
A positive and a negative charge are separated by a
distance r,

What are the directions of the
forces on the charges?
Clicker Question 2
+q
1

-q
2

r
Choice

A Left Left
B Right Left
C Left Right
D Right Right
What is the magnitude of
the self-force?
Choice

A infinite
B k

/

C 0
The Coulomb Force
F =
1
4tc
0
Q
1
Q
2
r
2
ˆ
r
c
0
= permittivity constant
2
2 1
0
4
1
r
Q Q
F F
tc
= =

• The force exerted by one point charge on another acts along line
joining the charges.
• The force is repulsive if the charges have the same sign and
attractive if the charges have opposite signs.
Force on “2” by “1”
Force repulsive Force attractive
1
+
+
2
r
F
21

+
-
2
r
F
21

1
How Strong is the Coulomb Force
q F E /
 
=
[N/C]
( ) t z y x E E , , ,
 
÷
Electric Field
Electric field has units of Newton per Coulomb:
No ‘self-force’!
2
0
4
1
r
q
E
tc
=
Point charge does not exert field on itself!
r ÷0, E ÷ ·
The net electric field at a location in space is a vector sum
of the individual electric fields contributed by all charged
particles located elsewhere.
The Superposition Principle
The electric field contributed by a charged particle is
unaffected by the presence of other charged particles.
+q
2

-q
1

2

1

3
+q
3

The Superposition Principle
+q
2

2

3

-q
1

+q
3

1

The E of a Uniformly Charged Sphere
Can calculate using principle of superposition:
r
r
Q
E
sphere
ˆ
4
1
2
0
tc
=

for r>R (outside)
0 =
sphere
E

for r<R (inside)
Recall this every
night before bed!
Electric dipole:
Two equally but oppositely charged
point-like objects
What is the E field far from the dipole (r>s)?
+q -q
s
Example of electric dipole: HCl molecule
The Superposition Principle
The electric field of a dipole:
x
y
z
+q -q
s
Choice of origin: use symmetry
Calculating Electric Field
Choice of the origin
1. E along the x-axis
x x x
E E E
, , , 1 ÷ +
+ =
=
1
4tc
0
q
r ÷ s 2
( )
2
+
1
4tc
0
÷q
r + s 2
( )
2
E
1, x
=
1
4tc
0
qr
2
+ qrs + qs
2
/ 4 ÷ qr
2
+ qrs ÷ qs
2
/ 4
r ÷ s 2
( )
2
r + s 2
( )
2
E
1, x
=
1
4tc
0
2qrs
r ÷ s 2
( )
2
r + s 2
( )
2
+q -q
s
r

1,

+,

−,

2 2
0
, 1
2 2
2
4
1
|
.
|

\
|
+
|
.
|

\
|
÷
=
s
r
s
r
srq
E
x
tc
if r>>s, then
2
2 2
2 2
r
s
r
s
r ~
|
.
|

\
|
+ ~
|
.
|

\
|
÷
3
0
, 1
2
4
1
r
sq
E
x
tc
= 0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
3
0
1
r
sq
E
tc
=

While the electric field of a point charge is proportional to 1/r
2
,
the electric field created by several charges may have a different
distance dependence.
Approximation: Far from the Dipole
2. E along the y-axis
¦
¦
)
¦
¦
`
¹
= ÷ ÷ =
÷ = ÷ =
÷
+
0 , ,
2
0 , 0 ,
2
0 , , 0
0 , ,
2
0 , 0 ,
2
0 , , 0
y
s s
y r
y
s s
y r

2
2
2
0 , ,
2
0 , 0 ,
2
0 , , 0
0 , ,
2
0 , 0 ,
2
0 , , 0
|
.
|

\
|
+ = = ¬
¦
¦
)
¦
¦
`
¹
= ÷ ÷ =
÷ = ÷ =
÷ +
÷
+
s
y r r
y
s s
y r
y
s s
y r

2
2
2
|
.
|

\
|
+
s
y
2
2
2
2 0
2
0 , ,
2
2
4
1
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
|
.
|

\
|
+
=
+
s
y
y
s
s
y
q
E
tc

2
2
2
2 0
2
0 , ,
2
2
4
1
|
.
|

\
|
+
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
=
÷
s
y
y
s
s
y
q
E
tc

r
r
q
E ˆ
4
1
2
0
tc
=

+q -q
s

2

y

+

+

2. E along the y-axis
2
2
2
2 0
2
0 , ,
2
2
4
1
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷
|
.
|

\
|
+
=
+
s
y
y
s
s
y
q
E
tc

0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
2
3
2
2
0
2
s
s
y
q
E E E ÷
(
(
¸
(

¸

|
.
|

\
|
+
= + =
÷ +
tc
  
0 , 0 , 1
2
4
1
2
3
2
2
0
2
÷
(
(
¸
(

¸

|
.
|

\
|
+
= + =
÷ +
s
y
qs
E E E
tc
  
if r>>s, then
E
2
~
÷1
4tc
0
qs
r
3
, 0, 0
2
2
2
2 0
2
0 , ,
2
2
4
1
|
.
|

\
|
+
÷ ÷
|
.
|

\
|
+
=
÷
s
y
y
s
s
y
q
E
tc

at <0,r,0>
+q -q
s

2

y

+

+

3. E along the z-axis
Due to the symmetry E along the z-axis must
be the same as E along the y-axis!
0 , 0 ,
4
1
3
0
2
r
qs
E
tc
÷
=

at <0, r, 0>
or <0, 0, r>
0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
3
0
1
r
sq
E
tc
=

at <r, 0, 0>
y
x
z
Other Locations
The Electric Field
r
r
q
E ˆ
4
1
2
1
0
1
tc
=

+
-
Point Charge:
Dipole:
for r>>s :
E =
1
4tc
0
2qs
r
3
, 0, 0
at <r,0,0>
E =
÷1
4tc
0
qs
r
3
, 0, 0
at <0,r,0>
+q
-q
s
x
y
z at <0,0,r> E =
÷1
4tc
0
qs
r
3
, 0, 0
Example Problem
A dipole is located at the origin, and is composed of
particles with charges e and –e, separated by a distance
2×10
-10
m along the x-axis. Calculate the magnitude of
the E field at <0, 2×10
-8
, 0> m.
y

200Å
E=?
Since r>>s:
3
0
, 1
4
1
r
sq
E
x
tc
=

E
1, x
= 9 ×10
9
Nm
2
C
2
|
\

|
.
|
2 ×10
÷10
m ×1.6 ×10
÷19
C
2 ×10
÷8
m
( )
3
|
\

|
.
|
|
Using exact solution:
x
C
N
4
, 1
10 2 . 7 × =
x
E
C
N
4
, 1
10 1999973 . 7 × =
x
E
Interaction of a Point Charge and a Dipole
0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
3
0
d
qs
Q E Q F
dipole
tc
÷
= =
 
dipole
E

F

• Direction makes sense?
- negative end of dipole is closer, so its net contribution is larger

• What is the force exerted on the dipole by the point charge?
- Newton’s third law: equal but opposite sign
+q -q +Q
s

F

Dipole Moment
0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
3
0
1
r
qs
E
tc
=

0 , 0 ,
4
1
3
0
2
r
qs
E
tc
÷
=

x:
y, z:
Dipole moment: p = qs
qs p =

0 , 0 ,
2
4
1
3
0
1
r
p
E
tc
=

0 , 0 ,
4
1
3
0
2
r
p
E
tc
÷
=

, direction from –q to +q
r>>s
Dipole moment is a vector pointing
from negative to positive charge
The electric field of a dipole is proportional to the
Dipole in a Uniform Field
E q F
 
=
Forces on +q and –q have the same
magnitude but opposite direction
0 = ÷ + = E q E q F
net
  
It would experience a torque about its
center of mass.
Electric dipole can be used to measure
the direction of electric field.
What is the equilibrium position?
Choice of System
Multiparticle systems: Split into objects to include into system
and objects to be considered as external.
To use field concept instead of Coulomb’s law we split the
Universe into two parts:
• the charges that are the sources of the field

• the charge that is affected by that field
• Convenience: know E at some location – know the electric
force on any charge:
Example: if E>3×10
6
N/C air becomes conductor
• Retardation
Nothing can move faster than light c
c = 300,000 km/s = 30 cm/ns
• Can describe the electric properties of matter in terms of
electric field – independent of how this field was produced.
Coulomb’s law is not completely correct – it does not
contain time t nor speed of light c.
r
r
q
E ˆ
4
1
2
0
tc
=

r
r
q q
F ˆ
4
1
2
2 1
0
tc
=

v<<c !!!
F = q
r
E
A Fundamental Rationale