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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
The study of electric
charges at rest,
rest the
forces between them
and the electric fields
associated with them.

CHAPTER 16:
Electrostatics
(4 Hours)
1

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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.1

Qq
kQq
F=
= 2
2
4 0 r
r

## Sketch the force diagram and apply Coulombs law for a

system of point charges.

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## states that the magnitude of the electrostatic (Coulomb or

electric) force between two point charges is proportional to
the product of the charges and inversely proportional to the
square of the distance between them.
them

Q1

Q2

Figure 3.1

Mathematically,

kQ1Q2
Q1Q2
F=
F
2
2
r
r
where
F : magnitude of electrostatic force
Q1 , Q2 : magnitude of charges
r : distance between two point charges
k : electrostatic (Coulomb) constant = 9.0 109 N m 2 C3 2

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

1
, hence the Coulombs law can be written as
Since k =
4 0
1 Q1Q2
2
F =
4 0 r
where 0 : permittivity of free space (vacuum or air)
( 0 = 8.85 10 12 C 2 N 1 m 2 )
If Q1 and Q2 are charges of opposite sign,
sign the force (F) acting
on each charge is attractive as shown in Figure 3.2.

Q1
+

Q2
-

Figure 3.2

## This mean that F is directed towards the neighbouring

charge and will result in both charges moving towards
each other.
other
4

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## If Q1 and Q2 are both positive or both negative charges, the

force (F) acting on each charge is repulsive as shown in Figure
3.1.
This mean that F is directed away from the neighbouring
charge and will result in a separation of the two charges if
they are free to move.
move
Figures 3.3a and 3.3b show the variation of electrostatic force
with the distance between two charges.

m = kQ1Q2

0
Simulation 19.1

Figure 3.3a

1
r2

Figure 3.3b
5

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## Charge is a scalar quantity.

quantity
The S.I. unit of the charge is coulomb (C).
1 Coulomb is defined as the total charge transferred by a
current of one ampere in one second.
Note :
The sign of the charge can be ignored when substituting
into the Coulombs law equation.
The sign of the charges is important in distinguishing the
direction of the electric force .

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

charges

## There are two kinds of charges in nature positive and negative

charge.
Charges of opposite sign attract one another attractive
force.
Charges of the same sign repel one another repulsive
force.
Principle of conservation of charges state the total charge
in an isolated system is constant (conserved).
(conserved)
Charge is quantized.
Electric charge exists as discrete packets and written as

Q = ne
where e : fundamental amount of charge, 1.6 10 -19 C

Q : electric charge

7

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

law

## Table 3.1 shows the comparison between Newtons law of

gravitation and Coulombs law.
Newtons law of
Gravitation

Coulombs law

## Force due to mass

interaction
The force is a long-range
forces.
The equation of the
gravitational force :

interaction

Gm1m2
Fg =
r2

## The force is a short-range

force.
The equation of the electric
force :

Table 3.1

kQ1Q2
Fe =
r2

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.1
Two point charges, Q1= 85 C and Q2= 50 C are separated by a
distance of 3.5 cm as shown in Figure 3.4.

Q1

Q2

+
3.5 cm
Figure 3.4

## Determine the magnitude and direction of

a. the electric force that Q1 exerts on Q2.
b. the electric force that Q2 exerts on Q1.
(Given Coulombs constant, k = 9.0 109 N m2 C2)

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution :

Q1 = 85 10 6 C; Q2 = 50 10 6 C; r = 3.5 10 2 m

Q1
Q2

+
where

F21

F12

3.5 cm

## F12 : force by charge 1 on charge 2

F21 : force by charge 2 on charge 1

## a. By applying the Coulombs law equation, thus

kQ1Q2
F12 =
r2
9.0 109 85 10 6 50 10 6
F12 =
2 2
3.5 10

Direction :

)(
(

)(
)

)
10

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

Solution : Q1 = 85 10 C; Q2 = 50 10 C; r
b. By applying the Coulombs law equation, thus

kQ1Q2
F21 =
r2
9.0 109 85 10 6 50 10 6
F21 =
2 2
3.5 10

)(
(

)(
)

= 3.5 10 2 m

Direction :
Note:

## The magnitude of both forces is the same but opposite in

direction where in the vector form,

F12 = F21

## The characteristic of electric force exert on both charges is

attractive force.
force
11

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.2 :
Three point charges lie along the x-axis as shown in Figure 3.5.

Q1 = 12 C

Q2 = 20 C

+
12 cm

Q3 = 36 C

+
20 cm

Figure 3.5
a. Calculate the magnitude and direction of the total electrostatic
force exerted on Q1.
b. Suppose the charge Q2 can be moved left or right along the line
connecting the charges Q1 and Q3. Determine the distance from

## Q3 where Q2 experiences a nett electrostatic force of zero.

(Given permittivity of free space, 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2)

12

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 12 10 6 C; Q2 = 20 10 6 C; r12 = 12 10 2 m
Q3 = 36 10 6 C; r13 = 32 10 2 m

Q1
Q2
Q3
F21

Solution : Q1
a.

F31

r12

r13

## By applying the Coulombs law equation, thus

F21 =

F21 =

Q1Q2
2
4 0 r12

(12 10 )( 20 10 )
4 (8.85 10 )(12 10 )
6

12

2 2

Direction :
13

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 12 10 6 C; Q2 = 20 10 6 C; r12 = 12 10 2 m
Q3 = 36 10 6 C; r13 = 32 10 2 m
12 10 6 36 10 6
Q1Q3
F31 =
F31 =
2
12
2 2
4 0 r13
4 8.85 10
32 10
F31 = 37.9 N

Solution : Q1
a. and

(
(

)(

)(

## Direction : to the left

Therefore the
force on Q1 is given by
total electrostatic

F1 = F21 + F31
F1 = F21 F31

Direction :
14

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 12 10 6 C; Q2 = 20 10 6 C; Q3 = 36 10 6 C
; r13 = 32 10 2 m

Q1
Q2 F
Q3
F12
32

Solution : Q1
b.

r13 x

r13

## The nett force acting on Q2 is zero thus

F12 = F32
Q1Q2
Q2Q3
=
2
2
4 0 r12
4 0 r23

12 10 6

(32 10

36 10 6
=
x2
15

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.3 :
Figure 3.6 shows three point charges that lie in the x-y plane in a
vacuum.
Q = 6.0 C

17

+
Q2 = 4.0 C

20 cm
12 cm

Figure 3.6

Q3 = 5.0 C

## Calculate the magnitude and direction of the nett electrostatic force

on Q2.
(Given electrostatic constant, k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2)
16

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 6.0 10 6 C; Q2 = 4.0 10 6 C;
Q3 = 5.0 10 6 C; r12 = 20 10 2 m;
r23 = 12 10 2 m
Q1

Solution : Q1

r
17 12
F12

73 F32
+
r23

Q2

Q3

kQ1Q2
F12 =
2
r12

F21 =

## (9.0 10 )( 6.0 10 )( 4.0 10 )

( 20 10 )
9

2 2

17

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 6.0 10 6 C; Q2 = 4.0 10 6 C;
Q3 = 5.0 10 6 C; r12 = 20 10 2 m;
r23 = 12 10 2 m

kQ2Q3
9.0 109 4.0 10 6 5.0 10 6
F32 =
F32 =
2
2 2
r23
12 10

Solution : Q1

)(
(

)(

## Construct a table to represents x and y components for all

forces acting on Q2 .
Force

F12

F32

x-component (N)

y-component (N)

F12 cos 73

F12 sin 73

F32 = 12.5

0
18

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution :

## F2 x = 1.58 + 12.5 = 14.1 N

F2 y = 5.16 + 0 = 5.16 N

Therefore

F2 =

F2 x ) +
2

F2 y )

F2 =

Q2 is

(14.1)

+ ( 5.16 )

= tan

F2 y

F2 x

19

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.4 :

## A small point charge of mass 80 g and charge of +0.600 C is

hung by a thin wire of negligible mass. A charge of 0.900 C is
held 15.0 cm away from the first charge and directly to the right of
it, so the wire makes an angle to the vertical as shown in Figure
3.7.

## a. Sketch a free body diagram

of the charge +0.600 C.
b. Calculate
i. the angle ,
ii. the tension in the wire.
(Given electrostatic constant,
k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2 and
gravitational acceleration,
g = 9.81 m s1)

15.0 cm

0.600 C

0.900 C

Figure 3.7

(Physics,7th edition,
Cutnell&Johnson, Q23, p.569)
20

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 0.600 10 6 C; Q2 = 0.900 10 6 C;
m1 = 80 10 3 kg; r = 15.0 10 2 m;

Solution : Q1

## a. The free body diagram of the charge is

T sin

T cos

Q1

m1 g
21

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 0.600 10 6 C; Q2 = 0.900 10 6 C;
m1 = 80 10 3 kg; r = 15.0 10 2 m;

Solution : Q1

## b. i. Since the charge, Q1 is in equilibrium, thus

Therefore

F= 0

Fx = 0

T sin = F
kQ1Q2
T sin =
r2
Fy = 0
and

and

kQ1Q2
F=
r2

T cos = m1 g
T sin
kQ1Q2
=
(1) (2):
T cos
m1 gr 2

(1)

(2)

22

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 0.600 10 6 C; Q2 = 0.900 10 6 C;
m1 = 80 10 3 kg; r = 15.0 10 2 m;

Solution : Q1
b. i.

tan =

## (9.00 10 )( 0.600 10 )( 0.900 10 )

(80 10 )( 9.81) (15.0 10 )
6

2 2

## ii. By substituting = 15.4 into eq. (2), hence

(
)
(
80 10 )( 9.81)
T=

T cos15.4 = 80 10 3 ( 9.81)
3

cos15.4

23

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.1 :
Given 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2
1.

## Two point charges are placed on the x-axis as follows :

Charge Q1 = +4.00 nC is located at x = 0.200 m, charge Q2 = +5.00
nC is at x = 0.300 m. Determine the magnitude and direction of the
total electric force exerted by these two charges on a negative point
charge Q3 = 6.00 nC that is placed at the origin.
(University physics,11th edition, Young&Freedman, Q21.20, p.829)

## ANS. : 2.4 N to the right

2. A point charge Q = 0.35 nC is fixed at the origin. Where must a
proton be placed in order for the electric force acting on it to be
exactly opposite to its weight?
(Given charge of proton, Qp= 1.60 1019 C and mass of the proton,
mp = 1.67 1027 kg )
(Physics,3rd edition, J.S.Walker, Q18, p.657)

24

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.1 :
3.

## Four identical point charges (Q = +10.0 C) are located on

the corners of a rectangle as shown in Figure 3.8.

+Q

Q +

w
Q +

+Q

Figure 3.8
The dimension of the rectangle are l = 60.0 cm and
w = 15.0 cm. Calculate the magnitude and direction of the
resultant electric force exerted on the charge at the lower left
corner by the other three charges.
(Physics for scientists and engineers,6th edition,Serway&Jewett,
Q57, p.735)

## ANS. : 40.9 N at 263

25

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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.2

F
E=
q0

## Sketch the electric field lines of isolated point charge,

two charges and uniformly charged parallel plates.
Sketch the electric field strength diagram and determine
electric field strength E of a point charge and a system
of charges.
26

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## 16.2 Electric field

16.2.1 Electric field

## is defined as a region of space around isolated charge

where an electric force is experienced if a positive test
charge placed in the region.
Electric field around charges can be represented by drawing a
series of lines. These lines are called electric field lines (lines
of force).
The direction of electric field always tangent to the electric
field line at each point.
Characteristics of electric field lines:
The field lines indicate the direction of the electric field ( the
field points in the direction tangent to the field line at
any point).
point
27

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## The lines are drawn so that the magnitude of electric field

is proportional to the number of lines crossing unit area
perpendicular to the lines. The closer the lines, the
stronger the field.
field
Electric field lines start on positive charges and end on
negative charges,
charges and the number of starting or ending is
proportional to the magnitude of the charge.
The field lines never cross because the electric field dont
have two value at the same point.
Figures 3.9a, 3.9b, 3.9c, 3.9d, 3.9e and 3.9f show the electric
field patterns around the charge.
a. Single positive charge

## (the lines point radially outward

from the charge)
Figure 3.9a

field direction

+Q
28

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
b. Single negative charge
field direction
the charge)

Figure 3.9b
c. Two equal point charges of opposite sign, +Q and Q
field direction
(the lines are curved
and they are directed
from the positive
charge to the
negative charge.

+Q

Figure 3.9c

-Q

29

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
d. Two equal positive charges, +Q and +Q
(point X is neutral point )

is defined as a point
(region) where the
total electric force is
zero.
zero
It lies along the
vertical dash line.
line

Field direction

+Q

+Q

Figure 3.9d
e. Two opposite unequal charges,

+2Q and Q

## (note that twice as many

lines leave +2Q as there
are lines entering Q)
number of lines is
proportional to
magnitude of charge.
Figure 3.9e

Field direction

+2 +
Q
30

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## f. Two opposite charged parallel metal plates

The electric field lines are
perpendicular to the surface of the
metal plates.

## The lines go directly from positive

plate to the negative plate.
plate
The field lines are parallel and
equally spaced in the central
region far from the edges but fringe
outward near the edges. Thus, in the
central region, the electric field has
the same magnitude at all points.
points
The fringing of the field near the
edges can be ignored because the
separation of the plates is small
compared to their size.
size

Field direction

Figure 3.9f

Simulation 19.2

31

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## The electric field strength at a point is defined as the electric

(electrostatic) force per unit positive charge that acts at
that point in the same direction as the force.

Mathematically,

F
E=
q0

where E
: electric field strength
F : electric force
q0 : test charge

It is a vector quantity.
The unit of electric field strength is N C1 OR V m 1.
The magnitude of electric field strength is given by

F
E=
q0
32

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

kQq0
Since F =
, then the equation of electric field strength can
2
r
be written as

kQq0

2
kQ
Q
r
E
=

E = 2 OR
E=
2
4

r
r
q0
0

## where Q : magnitude of a point charge

r : distance between a point and point charge

Note:

## The direction of the electric field strength,

strength E depends on
the sign of the point charge only.
only

## The direction of the electric force,

force F depends on both
signs of the point charge and the test charge.
charge
These can be shown in Figures 3.10a, 3.10b, 3.10c and
3.10d.

33

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## A positive point charge

a. Positive test charge (common)

q0 (+ ve)

r
Figure 3.10a
b. Negative test charge

q0 ( ve)

r
Figure 3.10b

34

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## A negative point charge

a. Positive test charge (common)

q0 (+ ve)

r
Figure 3.10c
b. Negative test charge

E
r

Figure 3.10d

F
q0 ( ve)
Simulation 19.3

35

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.5 :
Two point charges, Q1= 3.0 C and Q2= 5.0 C, are placed
12 cm and 30 cm from the point P respectively as shown in Figure
3.11.

Q1

Q2

12 cm

30 cm
Figure 3.11

Determine
a. the magnitude and direction of the electric field intensity at P,
b. the nett electric force exerted on q0= +1 C if it is placed at P,
c. the distance of a point from Q1 where the electric field intensity
is zero.
(Given electrostatic constant, k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2)
36

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 3.0 10 6 C; Q2 = 5.0 10 6 C;
r1 = 12 10 2 m; r2 = 30 10 2 m

Q2
Q1
E1P P
E2 P

Solution : Q1
a.

r1

r2

## By applying the equation of electric field intensity, thus

kQ1
E1P = 2
r1

E1P =

(9.00 10 )(3.0 10 )
(12 10 )
6

2 2

Direction :
37

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 3.0 10 6 C; Q2 = 5.0 10 6 C;
r1 = 12 10 2 m; r2 = 30 10 2 m

Solution : Q1
a. and

kQ2
E2 P = 2
r2

E2 P =

(9.00 10 )(5.0 10 )
(30 10 )
6

2 2

E2 P = 5.00 10 N C
5

## Direction : to the right (towards Q2)

Therefore the
electric
field
intensity at P is given by

EP = E1P + E2P
EP = E1P + E2P
EP = 1.88 106 + 5.00 105
Direction :

38

PHYSICS
Solution :
b. Given q0

CHAPTER 16
6

= 1.0 10 C

FP
EP =
q0
FP = q0 EP

## FP = (1.0 10 6 )(1.38 106 )

Direction :

39

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 3.0 10 6 C; Q2 = 5.0 10 6 C;
r12 = 42 10 2 m

Q2
Q1
E
E1A A 2 A

Solution : Q1
c.

r12

r12 x

## The electric field at A is zero, hence

E1A = E2 A

kQ1 kQ2
=
2
2
r1A
r2 A
3.0 10 6
5.0 10 6
=
2
2
2
x
( 42 10 x )
40

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.6 :
Two point charges, Q1= 2.0 nC and
3.0 cm apart as shown in Figure 3.12.

Q1

3.0 cm

Q2

4.0 cm
Figure 3.12

## Determine the magnitude and direction of the resultant electric

field intensity at point M.
(Given permittivity of free space, 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2)
41

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 2.0 10 9 C; Q2 = 3.2 10 9 C;
r1M = 5.0 10 2 m; r2 M = 4.0 10 2 m
3
sin = = 0.6
Q1 5
4
5.0 cm
cos = = 0.8

3.0 cm
5
E1M

E2 M

M
+
4.0 cm
Q2

Solution : Q1

## The magnitude of the electric field intensities at point M due to the

charges are

E1M =

Q1
2
4 0 r1M

E1M =

2.0 10 9

4 8.85 10

12

)(5.0 10 )

2 2

42

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution : Q1

r1M

E2 M =

= 2.0 10 9 C; Q2 = 3.2 10 9 C;
= 5.0 10 2 m; r2 M = 4.0 10 2 m

Q2
2
4 0 r2 M

E2 M =

(3.2 10 )
4 (8.85 10 )( 4.0 10 )
9

12

2 2

## Construct a table to represents x and y components for electric

field intensities at M.
Field
x-component (N C1)
y-component (N C1)

E1M cos
E1M
3

E2 M
SUM

E1M sin

E2 M = 1.80 10 4
0

E x = 1.23 10 4

E y = 4.31 103

43

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution :
Therefore

## the magnitude of the resultant electric field intensity at M is

EM =

EM =

Ex ) +
2

Ey )

(1.23 10 ) + ( 4.31 10 )
4 2

3 2

## and its direction is given by

Ey

= tan
E
x

4
.
31

10
1

= tan
4
1.23 10
1

44

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.2 :
Given 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2
1.

## Sketch an electric field lines pattern for following cases:

a. Two equal negative charges, Q and Q.

2Q

45

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.2 :
2.

## Determine the magnitude of the electric field at point P due to

the four point charges as shown in Figure 3.13 if q = 1 nC and
d = 1 cm.

Figure 3.13
(Fundamental of physics,6th edition, Halliday, Resnick & Walker,
Q11, p.540)

ANS. : zero

46

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.2 :
3.

## Calculate the magnitude and direction of the electric field at

the centre of the square in Figure 3.14 if q =1.0 108 C and
a = 5 cm.

Figure 3.14
(Fundamental of physics,6th edition, Halliday, Resnick &Walker,
Q13, p.540)

47

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.2 :
4.

## Figure 3.15 shows a small object of mass 0.0250 kg and

charge 3.10 C is suspended by a thread between
oppositely charged parallel plates.

Figure 3.15

+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+

10.5

## The thread makes an angle of 10.5 to the vertical. Calculate

a. the tension in the thread,
b. the magnitude of the electric field strength.
(Physics, 3rd edition, J. S. Walker, Example 196, p.645)

## ANS. : 0.249 N; 1.46 104 N C1

48

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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.3

## Explain quantitatively with the aid of a diagram the

motion of a charge in a uniform electric field.

49

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## Consider a stationary particle of charge q0 and mass m is

placed in a uniform electric field E, the electric force Fe
exerted on the charge is given by

Fe = q0 E

Since only electric force exerted on the particle, thus this force
contributes the nett force, F and causes the particle to
accelerate.
accelerate
According to Newtons second law, then the magnitude of the
acceleration of the particle is

F = Fe = ma
q0 E = ma

q0 E
a=
m

## Because the electric field is uniform (constant in magnitude

and direction) then the acceleration of the particle is constant.
constant
50

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## If the particle has a positive charge,

charge its acceleration is in the
direction of the electric field (Figure 3.16a). If the particle has
a negative charge (electron)
electron , its acceleration is in the
direction opposite the electric field (Figure 3.16b).

+ + + + + + + + + + + ++

+
a
Fe

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

Fe

a -

Figure 3.16a
Figure 3.16b
Consider an electron (e) with mass, me enters a uniform electric
field, E perpendicularly with an initial velocity u, the upward
electric force will cause the electron to move along a
parabolic path towards the upper plate as shown in Figure
3.16c.
51

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
sxx

+ + + + + + + + + + + ++ v

-q

sy

Figure 3.16c
Therefore the magnitude of the electrons acceleration is
given by
eE
a = ay =
direction : upwards since a x = 0

me

## The path makes by the electron is similar to the motion of a

ball projected horizontally above the ground.
ground
Simulation 19.4

52

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## The components of electrons velocity after pass through

the electric field are given by

x-component : v x = u = constant
y-component : v y = u y + a y t and u y

= 0

eE
vy =
t
me

## The position of the electron is

s x = ut
and

1
s y = u yt + a yt
2

1 eE 2
t
s y =
2 me

53

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.7

## An electron enters a uniform electric field E in

the directions as shown in each of the figures.
Mark with an arrow the direction of the electric
force F on the electron, and discuss the
subsequent path of the electron.
E

E
e

(a)

(b)

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

a) The force F is against the direction of
motion. The electron decelerates along
a straight line.

## b) The force F is in the direction of

motion. The electron accelerates along a
straight line.

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.8 :

Figure 3.17
Figure 3.17 shows an electron entering a charged parallel plates
with a speed of 5.45 106 m s1. The electric field produces by the
parallel plates has deflected the electron downward by a distance
of 0.618 cm at the point where the electron exits. Determine
a. the magnitude of the electric field,
b. the speed of the electron when it exits the parallel plates.
(Physics, 3rd edition, J. S. Walker, Q78, p.661)

## (Given e=1.60 1019 C and me=9.11 1031 kg)

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 5.45 106 m s 1 ; s x = 2.25 10 2 m;
s y = 0.618 10 2 m

Solution : u

## u x = u = 5.45 106 m s 1 and u y = 0

The time taken by the electron travels from one end to another
end of the plates is given by

sx = u xt

## Therefore the magnitude of the electric field is

eE
1 2
s y = u y t a y t and a y =
me
2
1 eE 2
t
s y = 0
2 me
19

1 1.60 10 E
2
9

0.618 10 =
4
.
13

10
31
2 9.11 10

2
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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
= 5.45 106 m s 1 ; s x = 2.25 10 2 m;
s y = 0.618 10 2 m

Solution : u

## b. The components of the final velocity for electron are

v x = u x = 5.45 106 m s 1
eE
v y = u y a y t and a y =
me
eE 2
t
v y = 0
me
1.60 10 19 ( 4126 )
9

v y =
4
.
13

10
31

9
.
11

10

## Therefore the final speed of the electron in the uniform electric

field is

v=

vx + v y

v=

(5.45 10 ) + ( 2.99 10 )
6 2

6 2

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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.4

## Define and sketch equipotential lines and surfaces of

an isolated charge
a uniform electric field

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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.4

## At the end of this chapter, students should be able to:

Use
Q for a point charge and a system of
V=
charges.

4 0 r

## Calculate potential difference between two points.

VAB = VA VB
WBA
VAB =
q0

Use

V
E=
d

for uniform E.
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PHYSICS
CHAPTER 16
Learning Outcome:
16.4

## Deduce the change in potential energy, U between two

points in electric field.

U = q0 V

U = k
+
+
r13
r23
r12

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## 16.4 Electric potential

16.4.1 Electric potential energy, U

## is a form of energy related to the position of an electric

charge in an electric field.
field
is a scalar quantity and its unit is joule (J).
(J)
Consider a positive point charge (+Q) held stationary at O
exerts a repulsive force Fe on a positive test charge (+q0) at P
as shown in Figure 3.18. 1 and 2 are two points on the line that
passes through points O and P.
O

2
P
1

+Q

r2

dr + q0

Fe

r1
Figure 3.18

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## The test charge at P is moved by an external force, F through a

small distance dr towards point 2. dr is so small that the force
F can be considered to be constant.
constant Thus the work done dW by
the external force is given by
kQq0

## dW = Fdr cos 0 and F = Fe =

2

kQq0
dW =
dr
2
r

The total work done W12 in bringing the test charge (+q0) from 1
to 2 is given by

dW = kQq0

r2

r1

W12 = kQq0

where

1
dr
2
r r

1 2
r r1

1 1
W12 = kQq0
r1 r2

## r1 : initial distance from a point charge

r2 : final distance from a point charge

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

kQq0
U1 =
r1

and

kQq0
U2 =
r2

W12 = U1 U 2

OR

W12 = U

## where U : change in the electric potential energy = U 2

If r1= and r2=r then the work done in bringing the test charge

U1

## from infinity to point 2(W ) is

1 Qq0

OR W = U 2 =
4 0 r
U : electric potential energy at a point
r : distance between the point and the point charge
64
k : electrostatic constant

kQq0
W = U 2 =
r
where

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## is defined as the locus of points that have the same electric

potential.
potential
Figures 3.28a, 3.28b and 3.28c are example of the equipotential
surface.

A
C

B
C

## Figure 3.28b : a uniform

electric field produced by
an infinite sheet of charge
65

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
V= 0

E
Q

+Q

## The dashed lines represent the equipotential surfaces

(lines).
(lines)
The equipotential surfaces (lines) always perpendicular to the
electric field lines passing through them.
66

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## The electric field points in the direction of decreasing

electric potential.
potential
From the Figure 3.28a, the electric field more intense near
the charge,
charge where the equipotentials are closely spaced,
spaced than
it is far from the charge.
From the Figure 3.28c, the electric field is nonzero between
the charges but the electric potential is zero.
zero The relatively
large number of equipotential surfaces between the charges
shows that the electric potential is changing rapidly in that
region.
VA = VB VC
From the Figures 3.28a and 3.28b,
then the work done to bring a test charge from B to A is given by

WBA = q0VAB
WBA = q0 (VA VB )

Note:

WBA = 0

## No work is done in moving a charge along the

same equipotential surface.
surface

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## Electric potential of a point in an electric field is defined as the

potential energy per unit positive charge at that point in the
electric field.
field
U

V=

q0

## OR is defined as the work done in bringing positive test

charge from infinity to that point in the electric field per unit
test charge.
W

V=

where

q0

## q0 : value of a test charge (including sign)

It is a scalar quantity.
The unit of electric potential is Volt (V) OR J C 1.
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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

U=
r
written as
kQq0

V= r
q0

Since

kQ
V=
r
where

OR

V=

Q
4 0 r

## Q : value of a point charge (including sign)

r : distance between a point and point charge

Note:
The total electric potential at a point in space is equal to the
algebraic sum of the constituent potentials at that point.
The theoretical zero of electric potential of a charge is at
infinity.
infinity

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

U = q0V

## The electric potential energy of a positively charged

particle increases when it moves to a point of higher
potential.
potential
The electric potential energy of a negatively charged
particle increases when it moves to a point of lower
potential.
potential
The electric potential can be positive, negative or zero
depending on the signs and magnitudes of q0 and W.
If the value of work done is negative work done by the
external force or on the system.
system
If the value of work done is positive work done by the
electric force (system).
(system)
In the calculation of U , W and V, the sign of the charge
must be substituted in the related equations.

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.9 :
Two point charges, Q1= 40 C and Q2= 30 C are separated by
a distance of 15 cm as shown in Figure 3.19.
B

13 cm
Q1

Q2

5 cm

10 cm

Figure 3.19

Calculate
a. the electric potential at point A and describe the meaning of the
b. the electric potential at point B.
(Given 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2)
71

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

Solution : Q1 = 40 10 C; Q2 = 30 10
2
2
a. Given r1A = 5 10 m; r2 A = 10 10 m

Q1

r2A

r1A

C
Q2

VA = V1A + V2A
Q1 Q2
+

VA =
40 r1A 40 r2 A
1 Q1 Q2

VA =
+
40 r1A r2 A
40 10 6 30 10 6
1

VA =
+
12
2
2
4 8.85 10
5

10
10

10

## 9.89 106 joule of work is done by the electric field in

bringing 1 C of positive charge from infinity to the point A.

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

Solution : Q1 = 40 10 C; Q2 = 30 10
2
b. Given r2 B = 13 10 m
B

(15 10 ) + (13 10 )

2 2

r1B =
r1B = 19.9 10 2 m

r1B

r2 B

Q1

2 2

Q2

15 10

VB = V1B + V2B
1 Q1 Q2

VB =
+
40 r1B r2 B
40 10 6 30 10 6
1

VB =
+
12
2
2
4 8.85 10
19
.
9

10
13

10

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## Potential difference between two points in an electric field is

defined as the work done in bringing a positive test charge
from a point to another point in the electric field per unit
test charge.
charge
OR
W

V =

q0

## Consider a positive test charge is moved by the external force,

F from point B to point A as shown in Figure 3.20.

+Q

r2

+ q0

r1
Figure 3.20
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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

VAB = VA VB
and

VAB
where

WBA
=
q0

## WBA : work done in bringing positive test charge

from point B to point A
VA : electric potential at point A
VB : electric potential at point B

decreasing in the direction of the electric field.
field

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Note:
If the positive test charge moving from point A to point B,
thus the potential difference between this points is given by

VBA

WAB
= VB VA =
q0

where

## WAB : work done in bringing positive test charge

from point A to point B
VBA : potential difference between point B and point A

Therefore

VAB = VA VB
VAB = (VB VA )
VAB = VBA

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.10 :
Two points, S and T are located around a point charge of +5.4 nC
as shown in Figure 3.21.
S

8.0 cm

6.0 cm

+ 5.4 nC
Figure 3.21

Calculate
a. the electric potential difference between points S and T,
b. the work done in bringing a charge of 1.5 nC from point T to
point S.
(Given electrostatic constant, k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2)

77

PHYSICS
Solution :
a. Given
S

rS

CHAPTER 16
Q = 5.4 10 9 C
rS = 6.0 10 2 m

8.0 10 2 m

rT

rT =

(8.0 10 ) + (6.0 10 )
2 2

2 2

rT = 10 10 2 m

Q +
The electric potential difference between S and T is given by

VST = VS VT
kQ kQ
VST =

rS
rT
1 1
VST = kQ
rS rT

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
9

Solution : Q = 5.4 10 C
a.
V = 9.00 109 5.4
ST

b. Given

)(

10

1
1

2
2
10 10
6.0 10

q0 = 1.5 10 9 C

## Therefore the work done in bringing the charge from point T to

WTS
point S is

VST =

q0

WTS
324 =
1.5 10 9

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.11 :
A test charge q0 =+2.3 C is placed 20 cm from a point charge Q.
A work done of 25 joule is required in bringing the test charge

q0

## to a distance 15 cm from the charge Q.

Determine
a. the potential difference between point 15 cm and 20 cm from the
point charge, Q,
b. the value of charge Q,
c. the magnitude of the electric field strength at point 10 cm from
the charge Q.
(Given electrostatic constant, k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2)

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution : q0 = 2.3 10

rB = 15 10 2

C;WAB = + 25 J; rA = 20 10 2 m;
m;
B

rB

+ q0

rA

## a. The electric potential difference between B and A is given by

VBA
VBA

WAB
=
q0
(
25)
=
2.3 10 6

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Solution : q0 = 2.3 10

rB = 15 10 2

C;WAB = + 25 J; rA = 20 10 2 m;
m;

## b. By applying the equation of electric potential difference, thus

VBA = VB VA
1 1

VBA = kQ
rB rA
1
1

7
9
1.09 10 = 9.00 10 Q

2
2
20 10
15 10

c. Given r = 0.10 m
The magnitude of the electric field strength is

kQ
E= 2
r

E=

(9.00 10 )(7.27 10 )
9

( 0.10) 2

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## 16.4.5 Relationship between E and V

Consider a positive test charge, q0 placed near a positive point
charge, Q. To move q0 towards Q by a small displacement (r),
work done (W) must be expended as shown in Figure 3.22.
Fe
+

+ q0
+Q
F
r
Figure 3.22

## The work done by the external force

F is given by

W = F r cos 0 and F = Fe

W = Fe r

Since

W = q0 V then q0 V = Fe r

V = E r
where

OR

V
E=
r

Fe
= E
and
q0

V : potential difference

r : change in displacement(distance)
E : electric field strength

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## In the limit when r approaches zero,

V
E = limit

r 0
r
dV
E=
dr

potential decreases in the direction of electric field.
field

dV
dr

graph

## An alternative unit for electric field strength, E is volts per meter

where

1 N C 1 = 1 V m 1

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## Consider a uniform electric field is produced by a pair of flat

metal plates, one at which is earthed and the other is at a
potential of +V as shown in Figure 3.23a.

+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+
+V

V= 0

Figure 3.23a

Figure 3.23b

## The V against r graph for pair of flat metal plates can be

shown in Figure 3.23b.
85

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## From the Figure 3.23b,

The graph is a straight line with negative constant

V
(0 V )
E=
=
r
( d 0)
V
E=
d
OR

## For uniform E such as

in capacitor.

V = Ed

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.12 :
Two parallel plates are separated 5.0 mm apart. The electric field
strength between the plates is 1.0 104 N C1. A small charge of
+4.0 nC is moved from one conducting plate to another. Calculate
a. the work done on the charge, and
b. the potential difference between the plates.
3
4
1
Solution : d = 5.0 10 m; E = 1.0 10 N C ;

q0 = 4.0 10 9 C

## a. The work done on the charge is

W = Fd = q0 Ed
9
4
3
W = 4.0 10 1.0 10 5.0 10

)(

)(

## b. The potential difference between the plates is given by

V = Ed
V = 1.0 10 4 5.0 10 3

)(

)
87

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## 16.4.6 Change in a potential energy and potential

energy for a system of point charges
Change in a potential energy, U
From the definition of electric potential difference, V

W
V =
q0
U
V =
q0

and

W = U

U = q0 V
U 2 U1
final

V2 V1
initial

88

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

## 16.4.7 Potential energy for a system of point charges

Consider a system of three point charges as shown in Figure
3.24.
Q
2

r12
Q1

r23
r13
Figure 3.24

Q3

## The total electric potential energy, U can be expressed as

U = U 12 + U 13 + U 23
kQ1Q2 kQ1Q3 kQ2Q3
U=
+
+
r12
r13
r23

## Q1Q2 Q1Q3 Q2Q3

U = k
+
+
r13
r23
r12

89

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Example 16.13 :
Two point charges, Q1= +2.0 C and Q2= 6.0 C, are placed
4.0 m and 5.0 m from a point P respectively as shown in Figure
Q2
3.25.

5.0 m
Q1 +

4.0 m

Figure 3.25
a. Calculate the electric potential at P due to the charges.
b. If a charge Q3= +3.0 C moves from infinity to P, determine the
change in electric potential energy for this charge.
c. When the charge Q3 at point P, calculate the electric potential
energy for the system of charges.
(Given electrostatic constant, k = 9.00 109 N m2 C2)

90

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

## Solution : Q1 = 2.0 10 C; Q2 = 6.0 10

a. Given r1P = 4.0 m; r2P = 5.0 m

VP = V1P + V2P

Q1 Q2

VP = k
+
r1P r2 P
6
6

2
.
0

10

6
.
0

10
9

VP = 9.00 10
+

4
.
0
5
.
0

6
Q
=
3
.
0

10
C
b. Given 3

## By applying the equation of change in electric potential energy,

thus

U = Q3 V
U = Q3 (VP V ) and V = 0
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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

## Solution : Q1 = 2.0 10 C; Q2 = 6.0 10

U = 3.0 10 6 6300 0
b.

c.

Q2

r12 = 3.0 m

r23 = 5.0 m
P

Q1 +

r13 = 4.0 m

+ Q3

## The total electric potential energy for the system of three

charges is given by

U = U12 + U13 + U 23

U=
+
+
r12
r13
r23
92

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16
6

Q1Q2 Q1Q3 Q2Q3
c.

U = k
+
+

r
12

r13

r23

)(

6
6

2
.
0

10

6
.
0

10
U = 9.00 109
+
3.0

## ( 2.0 10 )( + 3.0 10 ) + ( 6.0 10 )( + 3.0 10 )

6

4.0

5.0

93

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.4 :
Given 0 = 8.85 1012 C2 N1 m2; me= 9.11 1031 kg;
e=1.60 1019 C
1.

## An electron beam enters at right angle into a uniform electric

field between two horizontal plates separated of 5.0 cm apart.
The plates are connected across a potential difference of
1000 V. The length of the plates is 10.0 cm. The beam is
deflected vertically at the edge of the field by a distance of
2.0 cm. Calculate the speed of the electrons entering the field.
ANS. : 2.97 107 m s1
2. At a certain distance from a point charge, the magnitude of
the electric field is 500 V m1 and the electric potential is
3.00 kV. Calculate
a. the distance to the charge.
b. the value of the charge.
(Physics for scientists and engineers,6th edition,Serway&Jewett,
Q17, p.788)

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.4 :
3.

## Four point charges are located at the corners of a square that

is 8.0 cm on a side. The charges, going in rotation around the
square, are Q, 2Q, 3Q and 2Q, where Q = 4.8 C as shown
in Figure 3.26.

Q +

+ 2Q

2Q +

3Q

Figure 3.26
Determine the electric potential at the centre of the square.
ANS. : 1.53 106 V
95

PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Exercise 16.4 :
4.

## Initially two electrons are fixed in place with a separation of

2.00 m. How much work must we do to bring a third electron
in from infinity to complete an equilateral triangle?
(Fundamental of physics,7th edition, Halliday, Resnick & Walker,
Q79, p.653)

5.

## Two point charges, Q1= +q and

1.0 m as shown in Figure 3.27.

Q1 +

## Q2= +2q are separated by

1.0 m

+ Q2

Figure 3.27
Determine the position of a point where
a. the nett electric field intensity is zero,
b. the electric potential due to the two charges is zero.
(Fundamental of physics,7th edition, Halliday, Resnick & Walker,
Q81, p.653)

## ANS. : 0.41 m, U think

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PHYSICS

CHAPTER 16

Next Chapter

CHAPTER 17 :
Capacitor and dielectrics

97