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PH 122 (46)

Electric potential, potential energy, connecting field and potential

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PH 122
Brian Jones

3 February Electric Potential Electric fields are responsible for another type of potential energy. Charges can move “uphill” or “downhill” in the field. Energy is stored in the arrangement of charges. Capacitors can store a lot of energy that can be quickly discharged. Muscle and nerve cells have large electric fields. Depolarization of nerve and muscle cells produces externally measurable fields. Pushing a Stone Uphill Suppose you need to roll a stone to the top of a hill. What factors determine how much force you need to apply? Weight, slope What factors determine how much work you need to do? Height of hill Electric Forces and Electric Potential Energy A +1.0 nC charge sits at a certain point in the earth’s field, which is 100 N/C, directed down. What is the direction of the force on the charge? Downward If the charge is moved upward, the electric potential energy will be increased (moving uphill) Potential Energy and Potential Potential difference: how high is the hill? The potential is the potential energy “per charge” U elec V = q The change in potential energy when a charge goes through a potential difference ΔV ΔU elec qΔV Units: J/C, or volts (V) We generally look at differences in potential; a difference in potential ΔV is called a voltage. Connecting Field and Potential In a uniform field, moving a distance Δd produces a chan
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