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W 2 = k q 1 q 2 r 12 = ( 9.0 × 10 9 N · m 2 C 2 ) ( 2.0 × 10 −6 C ) ( 3.0 × 10 −6 C ) 1.0 × 10 −2 m = 5.4 J .
The figure shows a square with side length 1.0cm and two charges (2.0µC and 3.0µC) on adjacent corners.
Step 2. Work W 2 to bring the + 3.0 - μ C charge from infinity.

Step 3. While keeping the charges of + 2.0 μ C and + 3.0 μ C fixed in their places, bring in the + 4.0 - μ C charge to ( x , y , z ) = ( 1.0 cm , 1.0 cm , 0 ) ( [link] ). The work done in this step is

W 3 = k q 1 q 3 r 13 + k q 2 q 3 r 23 = ( 9.0 × 10 9 N · m 2 C 2 ) [ ( 2.0 × 10 −6 C ) ( 4.0 × 10 −6 C ) 2 × 10 −2 m + ( 3.0 × 10 −6 C ) ( 4.0 × 10 −6 C ) 1.0 × 10 −2 m ] = 15.9 J .
The figure shows a square with side length 1.0cm and three charges (2.0µC, 3.0µC and 4.0µC) on three corners.
Step 3. The work W 3 to bring the + 4.0 - μ C charge from infinity.

Step 4. Finally, while keeping the first three charges in their places, bring the + 5.0 - μ C charge to ( x , y , z ) = ( 0 , 1.0 cm , 0 ) ( [link] ). The work done here is

W 4 = k q 4 [ q 1 r 14 + q 2 r 24 + q 3 r 34 ] , = ( 9.0 × 10 9 N · m 2 C 2 ) ( 5.0 × 10 −6 C ) [ ( 2.0 × 10 −6 C ) 1.0 × 10 −2 m + ( 3.0 × 10 −6 C ) 2 × 10 −2 m + ( 4.0 × 10 −6 C ) 1.0 × 10 −2 m ] = 36.5 J .
The figure shows a square with side length 1.0cm and four charges (2.0µC, 3.0µC, 4.0µC and 5.0µC) located at four corners.
Step 4. The work W 4 to bring the + 5.0 - μ C charge from infinity.

Hence, the total work done by the applied force in assembling the four charges is equal to the sum of the work in bringing each charge from infinity to its final position:

W T = W 1 + W 2 + W 3 + W 4 = 0 + 5.4 J + 15.9 J + 36.5 J = 57.8 J .

Significance

The work on each charge depends only on its pairwise interactions with the other charges. No more complicated interactions need to be considered; the work on the third charge only depends on its interaction with the first and second charges, the interaction between the first and second charge does not affect the third.

Check Your Understanding Is the electrical potential energy of two point charges positive or negative if the charges are of the same sign? Opposite signs? How does this relate to the work necessary to bring the charges into proximity from infinity?

positive, negative, and these quantities are the same as the work you would need to do to bring the charges in from infinity

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Note that the electrical potential energy is positive if the two charges are of the same type, either positive or negative, and negative if the two charges are of opposite types. This makes sense if you think of the change in the potential energy Δ U as you bring the two charges closer or move them farther apart. Depending on the relative types of charges, you may have to work on the system or the system would do work on you, that is, your work is either positive or negative. If you have to do positive work on the system (actually push the charges closer), then the energy of the system should increase. If you bring two positive charges or two negative charges closer, you have to do positive work on the system, which raises their potential energy. Since potential energy is proportional to 1/ r , the potential energy goes up when r goes down between two positive or two negative charges.

On the other hand, if you bring a positive and a negative charge nearer, you have to do negative work on the system (the charges are pulling you), which means that you take energy away from the system. This reduces the potential energy. Since potential energy is negative in the case of a positive and a negative charge pair, the increase in 1/ r makes the potential energy more negative, which is the same as a reduction in potential energy.

The result from [link] may be extended to systems with any arbitrary number of charges. In this case, it is most convenient to write the formula as

W 12 N = k 2 i N j N q i q j r i j for i j .

The factor of 1/2 accounts for adding each pair of charges twice.

Summary

  • The work done to move a charge from point A to B in an electric field is path independent, and the work around a closed path is zero. Therefore, the electric field and electric force are conservative.
  • We can define an electric potential energy, which between point charges is U ( r ) = k q Q r , with the zero reference taken to be at infinity.
  • The superposition principle holds for electric potential energy; the potential energy of a system of multiple charges is the sum of the potential energies of the individual pairs.

Conceptual questions

Would electric potential energy be meaningful if the electric field were not conservative?

No. We can only define potential energies for conservative fields.

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Why do we need to be careful about work done on the system versus work done by the system in calculations?

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Does the order in which we assemble a system of point charges affect the total work done?

No, though certain orderings may be simpler to compute.

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Problems

Consider a charge Q 1 ( + 5.0 μ C ) fixed at a site with another charge Q 2 (charge + 3.0 μ C , mass 6.0 μ g ) moving in the neighboring space. (a) Evaluate the potential energy of Q 2 when it is 4.0 cm from Q 1 . (b) If Q 2 starts from rest from a point 4.0 cm from Q 1 , what will be its speed when it is 8.0 cm from Q 1 ? ( Note: Q 1 is held fixed in its place.)

a. U = 3.4 J;
b. 1 2 m v 2 = k Q 1 Q 2 ( 1 r i 1 r f ) v = 750 m/s

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Two charges Q 1 ( + 2.00 μ C ) and Q 2 ( + 2.00 μ C ) are placed symmetrically along the x -axis at x = ± 3.00 cm . Consider a charge Q 3 of charge + 4.00 μ C and mass 10.0 mg moving along the y -axis. If Q 3 starts from rest at y = 2.00 cm, what is its speed when it reaches y = 4.00 cm?

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To form a hydrogen atom, a proton is fixed at a point and an electron is brought from far away to a distance of 0.529 × 10 −10 m, the average distance between proton and electron in a hydrogen atom. How much work is done?

U = 4.36 × 10 −18 J

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(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?

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Questions & Answers

what is flux
Bundi Reply
Total number of field lines crossing the surface area
Kamru
Basically flux in general is amount of anything...In Electricity and Magnetism it is the total no..of electric field lines or Magnetic field lines passing normally through the suface
prince
what is temperature change
Celine
a bottle of soft drink was removed from refrigerator and after some time, it was observed that its temperature has increased by 15 degree Celsius, what is the temperature change in degree Fahrenheit and degree Celsius
Celine
process whereby the degree of hotness of a body (or medium) changes
Salim
Q=mcΔT
Salim
where The letter "Q" is the heat transferred in an exchange in calories, "m" is the mass of the substance being heated in grams, "c" is its specific heat capacity and the static value, and "ΔT" is its change in temperature in degrees Celsius to reflect the change in temperature.
Salim
what was the temperature of the soft drink when it was removed ?
Salim
15 degree Celsius
Celine
15 degree
Celine
ok I think is just conversion
Salim
15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
Salim
0 degree Celsius = 32 Fahrenheit
Salim
15 degree Celsius = (15×1.8)+32 =59 Fahrenheit
Salim
I dont understand
Celine
the question said you should convert 15 degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
Salim
To convert temperatures in degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8 (or 9/5) and add 32.
Salim
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
it said what is temperature change in Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
the 15 is already in Celsius
Salim
So the final answer for Fahrenheit is 59
Salim
what is d final ans for Fahrenheit and Celsius
Celine
what are the effects of placing a dielectric between the plates of a capacitor
Bundi Reply
increase the capacitance.
Jorge
besides increasing the capacitance, is there any?
Bundi
mechanical stiffness and small size
Jorge
why for an ideal gas internal energy is directly proportional to thermodynamics temperature?
Anne Reply
two charged particles are 8.45cm apart. They are moved and the force on each of them is found to have tripled. How far are they now?
Martin Reply
what is flux
Bundi
determining dimensional correctness
PATRICK Reply
determine dimensional correctness of,T=2π√L/g
PATRICK
somebody help me answer the question above
PATRICK
calculate the heat flow per square meter through a mineral roll insulation 5cm thick if the temperature on the two surfaces are 30degree Celsius and 20 degree Celsius respectively. thermal conduction of mineral roll is 0.04
akuribire Reply
what are the elementary compositions of a cell?
jackson Reply
poles, chemical
prabir
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
lovet Reply
no.
prabir
what is spin entropy ?and disorder in ferromagnetic material
Nepal Reply
diagram of an hall effect sensor
Aweda Reply
if a magnetised wire having dipole moment M is bent in the form of arc subtending angle of 45°at centre,new magnetic moment is
Pravin Reply
tell the answer
prabir
is this book for preparing IIT or neet?
jyotirmayee Reply
is it possible to increase the temperature of a gas without adding heat to it?
gurpreet Reply
I'm not sure about it, but I think it's possible. If you add some form of energy to the system, it's a possibility. Also, if you change the pression or the volume of the system, you'll increase the kinetic energy of the system, increasing the gas temperature. I don't know if I'm correct.
playdoh
For example, if you get a syringe and close the tip(sealing the air inside), and start pumping the plunger, you'll notice that it starts getting hot. Again, I'm not sure if I am correct.
playdoh
you are right for example an adiabatic process changes all variables without external energy to yield a temperature change. (Search Otto cycle)
Brad
when a current pass through a material does the velocity varies
lovet
yes at adiabatic compression temperature increase
Nepal
how to draw a diagram of a triode
Ssempala Reply
whate is fckg diagrame?
Arzoodan
why do we use integration?
Monalisa Reply
To know surfaces below graphs.
Jan
To find a Primitive function. Primitive function: a function that is the origin of another
playdoh
yes
Dharmdev
what is laps rate
Dharmdev
Г=-dT/dZ that is simply defination
Arzoodan
what is z
Dharmdev
to find the area under a graph or to accumulate .e.g. sum of momentum over time is no etic energy.
Naod
Z is alt.,dZ altv difference
Arzoodan
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Oct 06, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12074/1.3
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