# 8.7 Electric potential energy: potential difference  (Page 5/9)

 Page 5 / 9

## Section summary

• Electric potential is potential energy per unit charge.
• The potential difference between points A and B, ${V}_{B}–{V}_{A}$ , defined to be the change in potential energy of a charge $q$ moved from A to B, is equal to the change in potential energy divided by the charge, Potential difference is commonly called voltage, represented by the symbol $\text{Δ}V$ .
$\Delta V=\frac{\text{ΔPE}}{q}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{and ΔPE =}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}q\Delta V\text{.}$
• An electron volt is the energy given to a fundamental charge accelerated through a potential difference of 1 V. In equation form,
$\begin{array}{lll}\text{1 eV}& =& \left(1.60×{\text{10}}^{\text{–19}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{C}\right)\left(1 V\right)=\left(1.60×{\text{10}}^{\text{–19}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{C}\right)\left(1 J/C\right)\\ & =& 1.60×{\text{10}}^{\text{–19}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{J.}\end{array}$
• Mechanical energy is the sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy of a system, that is, $\text{KE}+\text{PE}.$ This sum is a constant.

## Conceptual questions

Voltage is the common word for potential difference. Which term is more descriptive, voltage or potential difference?

If the voltage between two points is zero, can a test charge be moved between them with zero net work being done? Can this necessarily be done without exerting a force? Explain.

What is the relationship between voltage and energy? More precisely, what is the relationship between potential difference and electric potential energy?

Voltages are always measured between two points. Why?

How are units of volts and electron volts related? How do they differ?

## Problems&Exercises

Find the ratio of speeds of an electron and a negative hydrogen ion (one having an extra electron) accelerated through the same voltage, assuming non-relativistic final speeds. Take the mass of the hydrogen ion to be $1\text{.}\text{67}×{\text{10}}^{–\text{27}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\text{.}$

42.8

An evacuated tube uses an accelerating voltage of 40 kV to accelerate electrons to hit a copper plate and produce x rays. Non-relativistically, what would be the maximum speed of these electrons?

A bare helium nucleus has two positive charges and a mass of $6\text{.}\text{64}×{\text{10}}^{\text{–27}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{kg}\text{.}$ (a) Calculate its kinetic energy in joules at 2.00% of the speed of light. (b) What is this in electron volts? (c) What voltage would be needed to obtain this energy?

Integrated Concepts

Singly charged gas ions are accelerated from rest through a voltage of 13.0 V. At what temperature will the average kinetic energy of gas molecules be the same as that given these ions?

$1\text{.}\text{00}×{\text{10}}^{5}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{K}$

Integrated Concepts

The temperature near the center of the Sun is thought to be 15 million degrees Celsius $\left(1.5×{\text{10}}^{7}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}ºC\right)$ . Through what voltage must a singly charged ion be accelerated to have the same energy as the average kinetic energy of ions at this temperature?

Integrated Concepts

(a) What is the average power output of a heart defibrillator that dissipates 400 J of energy in 10.0 ms? (b) Considering the high-power output, why doesn’t the defibrillator produce serious burns?

(a) $4×{\text{10}}^{4}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{W}$

(b) A defibrillator does not cause serious burns because the skin conducts electricity well at high voltages, like those used in defibrillators. The gel used aids in the transfer of energy to the body, and the skin doesn’t absorb the energy, but rather lets it pass through to the heart.

Integrated Concepts

A lightning bolt strikes a tree, moving 20.0 C of charge through a potential difference of $1.00×{\text{10}}^{\text{2}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{MV}$ . (a) What energy was dissipated? (b) What mass of water could be raised from $\text{15ºC}$ to the boiling point and then boiled by this energy? (c) Discuss the damage that could be caused to the tree by the expansion of the boiling steam.

Integrated Concepts

A 12.0 V battery-operated bottle warmer heats 50.0 g of glass, $2.50×{\text{10}}^{\text{2}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{g}$ of baby formula, and $2.00×{\text{10}}^{\text{2}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{g}$ of aluminum from $\text{20}\text{.}0ºC$ to $90.0ºC$ . (a) How much charge is moved by the battery? (b) How many electrons per second flow if it takes 5.00 min to warm the formula? (Hint: Assume that the specific heat of baby formula is about the same as the specific heat of water.)

(a) $7\text{.}\text{40}×{\text{10}}^{3}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{C}$

(b) $1\text{.}\text{54}×{\text{10}}^{\text{20}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{electrons per second}$

Integrated Concepts

A battery-operated car utilizes a 12.0 V system. Find the charge the batteries must be able to move in order to accelerate the 750 kg car from rest to 25.0 m/s, make it climb a $2.00×{\text{10}}^{\text{2}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}$ high hill, and then cause it to travel at a constant 25.0 m/s by exerting a $5.00×{\text{10}}^{\text{2}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{N}$ force for an hour.

$3.89×{\text{10}}^{6}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{C}$

Integrated Concepts

Fusion probability is greatly enhanced when appropriate nuclei are brought close together, but mutual Coulomb repulsion must be overcome. This can be done using the kinetic energy of high-temperature gas ions or by accelerating the nuclei toward one another. (a) Calculate the potential energy of two singly charged nuclei separated by $1\text{.}\text{00}×{\text{10}}^{\text{–12}}\phantom{\rule{0.25em}{0ex}}\text{m}$ by finding the voltage of one at that distance and multiplying by the charge of the other. (b) At what temperature will atoms of a gas have an average kinetic energy equal to this needed electrical potential energy?

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