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  • Explain point charges and express the equation for electric potential of a point charge.
  • Distinguish between electric potential and electric field.
  • Determine the electric potential of a point charge given charge and distance.

Point charges, such as electrons, are among the fundamental building blocks of matter. Furthermore, spherical charge distributions (like on a metal sphere) create external electric fields exactly like a point charge. The electric potential due to a point charge is, thus, a case we need to consider. Using calculus to find the work needed to move a test charge q size 12{q} {} from a large distance away to a distance of r size 12{r} {} from a point charge Q size 12{Q} {} , and noting the connection between work and potential W = q Δ V size 12{ left (W= - q?V right )} {} , it can be shown that the electric potential V size 12{V} {} of a point charge is

V = kQ r ( Point Charge ) , size 12{V= { { ital "kQ"} over {r} } \( "Point Charge" \) ,} {}

where k is a constant equal to 9.0 × 10 9 N · m 2 / C 2 .

Electric potential V size 12{V} {} Of a point charge

The electric potential V size 12{V} {} of a point charge is given by

V = kQ r ( Point Charge ) . size 12{V= { { ital "kQ"} over {r} } \( "Point Charge" \) ,} {}

The potential at infinity is chosen to be zero. Thus V size 12{V} {} for a point charge decreases with distance, whereas E size 12{E} {} for a point charge decreases with distance squared:

E = F q = kQ r 2 . size 12{ left (E=F/q right )= ital "kQ/r" rSup { size 8{2} } } {}

Recall that the electric potential V size 12{V} {} is a scalar and has no direction, whereas the electric field E size 12{E} {} is a vector. To find the voltage due to a combination of point charges, you add the individual voltages as numbers. To find the total electric field, you must add the individual fields as vectors , taking magnitude and direction into account. This is consistent with the fact that V size 12{V} {} is closely associated with energy, a scalar, whereas E size 12{E} {} is closely associated with force, a vector.

What voltage is produced by a small charge on a metal sphere?

Charges in static electricity are typically in the nanocoulomb nC size 12{ left ("nC" right )} {} to microcoulomb µC size 12{ left (µC right )} {} range. What is the voltage 5.00 cm away from the center of a 1-cm diameter metal sphere that has a −3.00 nC static charge?

Strategy

As we have discussed in Electric Charge and Electric Field , charge on a metal sphere spreads out uniformly and produces a field like that of a point charge located at its center. Thus we can find the voltage using the equation V = kQ / r size 12{V= ital "kQ"/r} {} .

Solution

Entering known values into the expression for the potential of a point charge, we obtain

V = k Q r = 8.99 × 10 9 N · m 2 / C 2 –3.00 × 10 –9 C 5.00 × 10 –2 m = –539 V. alignl { stack { size 12{V=k { {Q} over {r} } = left (9 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{9} } " N" cdot m rSup { size 8{2} } /C rSup { size 8{2} } right ) { { - 3 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{ - 9} } " C"} over {5 "." "00" times "10" rSup { size 8{"–2"} } " m"} } } {} #= - "540"" V" "." {} } } {}

Discussion

The negative value for voltage means a positive charge would be attracted from a larger distance, since the potential is lower (more negative) than at larger distances. Conversely, a negative charge would be repelled, as expected.

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What is the excess charge on a van de graaff generator

A demonstration Van de Graaff generator has a 25.0 cm diameter metal sphere that produces a voltage of 100 kV near its surface. (See [link] .) What excess charge resides on the sphere? (Assume that each numerical value here is shown with three significant figures.)

The figure shows a Van de Graaff generator. The generator consists of a flat belt running over two metal pulleys. One pulley is positioned at the top and another at the bottom. The upper pulley is surrounded by an aluminum sphere. The aluminum sphere has a diameter of twenty five centimeters. Inside the sphere, the upper pulley is connected to a conductor which in turn is connected to a voltmeter for measuring the potential on the sphere. The lower pulley is connected to a motor. When the motor is switched on, the lower pulley begins turning the flat belt. The Van de Graaff generator with the above described setup produces a voltage of one hundred kilovolts. The potential on the surface of the sphere will be the same as that of a point charge at the center which is twelve point five centimeters away from the center. Thus the excess charge is calculated using the formula Q equals r times V divided by k.
The voltage of this demonstration Van de Graaff generator is measured between the charged sphere and ground. Earth’s potential is taken to be zero as a reference. The potential of the charged conducting sphere is the same as that of an equal point charge at its center.

Strategy

The potential on the surface will be the same as that of a point charge at the center of the sphere, 12.5 cm away. (The radius of the sphere is 12.5 cm.) We can thus determine the excess charge using the equation

V = kQ r . size 12{V= ital "kQ"/r} {}

Solution

Solving for Q and entering known values gives

Q = rV k = 0 . 125 m 100 × 10 3 V 8.99 × 10 9 N · m 2 / C 2 = 1.39 × 10 –6 C = 1.39 µC. alignl { stack { size 12{Q= { { ital "rV"} over {k} } = { { left (0 "." "12"" m" right ) left ("100"´"10" rSup { size 8{3} } " V" right )} over {9 "." "00"´"10" rSup { size 8{9} } " N" cdot m rSup { size 8{2} } /C rSup { size 8{2} } } } } {} #=1 "." "39"´"10" rSup { size 8{-6} } " C=1" "." "39 "mC "." {} } } {}

Discussion

This is a relatively small charge, but it produces a rather large voltage. We have another indication here that it is difficult to store isolated charges.

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Questions & Answers

explain how a body becomes electrically charged based on the presence of charged particles
Kym Reply
induction
babar
induction
DEMGUE
definitely by induction
Raymond
induction
Raymond
induction
Shah
induction
Korodhso
please why does a needle sinks in water
DEMGUE
induction
Korodhso
induction
Auwal
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Murtala Reply
what is dark matter
apex Reply
(in some cosmological theories) non-luminous material which is postulated to exist in space and which could take either of two forms: weakly interacting particles ( cold dark matter ) or high-energy randomly moving particles created soon after the Big Bang ( hot dark matter ).
Usman
if the mass of a trolley is 0.1kg. calculate the weight of plasticine that is needed to compensate friction. (take g=10m/s and u=0.2)
Declan Reply
what is a galaxy
Maduka Reply
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Abcd Reply
flow rate is the volume of fluid which passes per unit time;
Rev
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bhat
When two charges q1 and q2 are 6 and 5 coulomb what is ratio of force
Mian Reply
When reducing the mass of a racing bike, the greatest benefit is realized from reducing the mass of the tires and wheel rims. Why does this allow a racer to achieve greater accelerations than would an identical reduction in the mass of the bicycle’s frame?
bimo Reply
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nehemiah
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nehemiah Reply
i don't know
Adah
y
nehemiah
what are the relationship between distance and displacement
Usman Reply
They are interchangeable.
Shii
Distance is scalar, displacement is vector because it must involve a direction as well as a magnitude. distance is the measurement of where you are and where you were displacement is a measurement of the change in position
Shii
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Usman
I'm beginner in physics so I can't reason why v=u+at change to v2=u2+2as and vice versa
Usman
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praveen
kinematics is study of motion without considering the causes of the motion
Theo
The study of motion without considering the cause 0f it
Usman
why electrons close to the nucleus have less energy and why do electrons far from the nucleus have more energy
Theo
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praveen
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Chidera Reply
third law of thermodynamics states that at 0k the particles will collalse its also known as death of universe it was framed at that time when it waa nt posible to reach 0k but it was proved wrong
bhat
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Rev Reply
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Jeff
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Chidera
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lasisi
If a magnet is in a pool of water, would it be able to have a magnetic field?.
Stella Reply
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Jeff
formula for electric current
Chizzy Reply
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Fokoua
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Kudzy
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Fokoua
I=q/t
saifullahi
Current is the flow of electric charge per unit time.
saifullahi
What are semi conductors
saifullahi
materials that allows charge to flow at varying conditions, temperature for instance.
Mokua
these are materials which have electrical conductivity greater than the insulators but less than metal, in these materials energy band Gap is very narrow as compared to insulators
Sunil
materials that allows charge to flow at varying conditions, temperature for instance.
Obasi
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Fokoua
At what point in the oscillation of beam will a body leave it?
Atambiri
what is gravitational force
Adah
what is meant by the term law
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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