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  • Define electric potential and electric potential energy.
  • Describe the relationship between potential difference and electrical potential energy.
  • Explain electron volt and its usage in submicroscopic process.
  • Determine electric potential energy given potential difference and amount of charge.

When a free positive charge q size 12{q} {} is accelerated by an electric field, such as shown in [link] , it is given kinetic energy. The process is analogous to an object being accelerated by a gravitational field. It is as if the charge is going down an electrical hill where its electric potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Let us explore the work done on a charge q size 12{q} {} by the electric field in this process, so that we may develop a definition of electric potential energy.

A charge plus q moves from a positive to a negative sheet of charge. The change in the electric potential energy equals the change in kinetic energy. This is similar to the change from gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy when an object of mass m rolls downhill.
A charge accelerated by an electric field is analogous to a mass going down a hill. In both cases potential energy is converted to another form. Work is done by a force, but since this force is conservative, we can write W = –Δ PE size 12{W= - ?"PE"} {} .

The electrostatic or Coulomb force is conservative, which means that the work done on q size 12{q} {} is independent of the path taken. This is exactly analogous to the gravitational force in the absence of dissipative forces such as friction. When a force is conservative, it is possible to define a potential energy associated with the force, and it is usually easier to deal with the potential energy (because it depends only on position) than to calculate the work directly.

We use the letters PE to denote electric potential energy, which has units of joules (J). The change in potential energy, Δ PE size 12{?"PE"} {} , is crucial, since the work done by a conservative force is the negative of the change in potential energy; that is, W = –Δ PE size 12{W"=-"?"PE"} {} . For example, work W done to accelerate a positive charge from rest is positive and results from a loss in PE, or a negative Δ PE size 12{?"PE"} {} . There must be a minus sign in front of Δ PE size 12{?"PE"} {} to make W positive. PE can be found at any point by taking one point as a reference and calculating the work needed to move a charge to the other point.

Potential energy

W = –ΔPE size 12{W" = -"?"PE"} {} . For example, work W done to accelerate a positive charge from rest is positive and results from a loss in PE, or a negative ΔPE . There must be a minus sign in front of ΔPE to make W positive. PE can be found at any point by taking one point as a reference and calculating the work needed to move a charge to the other point.

Gravitational potential energy and electric potential energy are quite analogous. Potential energy accounts for work done by a conservative force and gives added insight regarding energy and energy transformation without the necessity of dealing with the force directly. It is much more common, for example, to use the concept of voltage (related to electric potential energy) than to deal with the Coulomb force directly.

Calculating the work directly is generally difficult, since W = Fd cos θ and the direction and magnitude of F size 12{F} {} can be complex for multiple charges, for odd-shaped objects, and along arbitrary paths. But we do know that, since F = qE size 12{F= ital "qE"} {} , the work, and hence ΔPE , is proportional to the test charge q. size 12{q} {} To have a physical quantity that is independent of test charge, we define electric potential     V size 12{V} {} (or simply potential, since electric is understood) to be the potential energy per unit charge:

Questions & Answers

Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics -- hlca 1104. OpenStax CNX. May 18, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11525/1.1
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