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Chapter 23

PHYS 241 Chapter 23 Notes.docx

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PHYS 24100
Oanas Malis

Chapter 23—Electric Potential Section 1—Potential Difference • The electrostatic force exerted by a point charge on another point charge is directed along the line joining the charges and varies inversely with the square of their separation distance • Electric force is conservative, so there is a potential energy function U associated with it • If the conservative force exerted by electrostatic field E on point charge q, then the force is given by o F=qE • Potential energy change is proportional to the test charge • • Potential V is a function of position o V is a scalar function whereas E is a vector function • • Unlike the electric field, the potential function is continuous everywhere, except at points where the electric field is infinite. • The SI unit for potential and potential difference is the joule per coulomb, called “volt” • If we place a positive charge q in an electric field E and release it, it accelerates ni the direction of E. o As the kinetic energy of the charge increases, its potential energy decreases o The charge therefore accelerates toward a region where its electric potential energy is less, just as a mass in a gravitational field accelerates toward a region where its gravitational potential energy is less • The electric field E points in the direction in which the potential V decreases most rapidly Section 2—Potential Due to a System of Point Charges • Electric potential a distance r from a point charge q at the origin can be
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