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Similarly, the charges tend to be denser where the curvature of the surface is greater, as demonstrated by the charge distribution on oddly shaped metal ( [link] ). The surface charge density is higher at locations with a small radius of curvature than at locations with a large radius of curvature.

The figure shows electric charge densities are different regions of an asymmetrical surface.
The surface charge density and the electric field of a conductor are greater at regions with smaller radii of curvature.

A practical application of this phenomenon is the lightning rod , which is simply a grounded metal rod with a sharp end pointing upward. As positive charge accumulates in the ground due to a negatively charged cloud overhead, the electric field around the sharp point gets very large. When the field reaches a value of approximately 3.0 × 10 6 N/C (the dielectric strength of the air), the free ions in the air are accelerated to such high energies that their collisions with air molecules actually ionize the molecules. The resulting free electrons in the air then flow through the rod to Earth, thereby neutralizing some of the positive charge. This keeps the electric field between the cloud and the ground from getting large enough to produce a lightning bolt in the region around the rod.

An important application of electric fields and equipotential lines involves the heart. The heart relies on electrical signals to maintain its rhythm. The movement of electrical signals causes the chambers of the heart to contract and relax. When a person has a heart attack, the movement of these electrical signals may be disturbed. An artificial pacemaker and a defibrillator can be used to initiate the rhythm of electrical signals. The equipotential lines around the heart, the thoracic region, and the axis of the heart are useful ways of monitoring the structure and functions of the heart. An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures the small electric signals being generated during the activity of the heart.

Play around with this simulation to move point charges around on the playing field and then view the electric field, voltages, equipotential lines, and more.

Summary

  • An equipotential surface is the collection of points in space that are all at the same potential. Equipotential lines are the two-dimensional representation of equipotential surfaces.
  • Equipotential surfaces are always perpendicular to electric field lines.
  • Conductors in static equilibrium are equipotential surfaces.
  • Topographic maps may be thought of as showing gravitational equipotential lines.

Conceptual questions

If two points are at the same potential, are there any electric field lines connecting them?

no

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Suppose you have a map of equipotential surfaces spaced 1.0 V apart. What do the distances between the surfaces in a particular region tell you about the strength of the E in that region?

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Is the electric potential necessarily constant over the surface of a conductor?

No; it might not be at electrostatic equilibrium.

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Under electrostatic conditions, the excess charge on a conductor resides on its surface. Does this mean that all of the conduction electrons in a conductor are on the surface?

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Questions & Answers

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
what is the Elasticty
Heeran Reply
it is the property of the by virtue of it regains it's original shape after the removal of applied force (deforming force).
Prema
property of the material
Prema
which type of cable is suitable for patrol station wiring
Eric Reply
what is calorimeter
odionyenma Reply
heat measuring device
Suvransu
What is mean electric potential
Biren Reply
Electric density formula
Biren Reply
Int E•dA
Vineet
what is relation betweeen potential energy of a system and work done in bringing last chaege from infinity
Shikhar Reply
Einstein and his general theory of relativity, a very nice concept,which revolutionize our modern world.
Antares Reply
what's the theory of relativity?
Piyali
it related to universe time period
jyotirmayee
it is a theory in which time is taken as relative,for diff. motion of objects.
Antares
no !!!
jyotirmayee
it is E=mc'square
jyotirmayee
what is black hole?
jyotirmayee
E=mc^2 is just a reln which sums up everything dude
Antares
what does e=mc^2 stand for?explain
Piyali
m not dude
jyotirmayee
e for speed of light
jyotirmayee
c for speed of light
jyotirmayee
m for mass of object
jyotirmayee
black hole is a super massive object in space gravitation pull of which s so strong dt evn light cannot escape. John wheeler 1st detected it, n concept of it ws given by Einstein himself from his general theory of relativity. Basically v cn si 3 types of it super massive, interstellar n intermediate
Antares
which topic now u studying?
jyotirmayee
e defined? sorry it,s wrong
jyotirmayee
how black holes r formed?
Piyali
e is not speed of light
jyotirmayee
black holes formed when the centre of very massive star collapsed itself
jyotirmayee
e is energy.
Antares
what do u mean by quantum mechanics?
jyotirmayee
in most of d cases black holes r formed by massive collapsed star or star system
Antares
sahoo u don't seem to understand relative physics, plz study that first.
Antares
Apollo is the name of a satellite !!!!!
jyotirmayee
quantum mechanics is d study of physics describing nature at d smallest level of energy of atoms n subatomic particles.
Antares
qm means explains about the microscopic particles..
KRANTHI
nope name of d sun god
Antares
why the mercury used in thermometers?
jyotirmayee
Ali brother ur exactly spelling is wrong,,,,,
jyotirmayee
why the colour of tube light white?
jyotirmayee
why the mouth became red colour ,,by the regular eating of leaf called ,,betel combining with areca?
jyotirmayee
all formula for calculate specific latent heat of any substance
Idowu Reply
hello
Nigar
real
Nigar
c'mon guys.. let's talk Physics.
Yoblaze
mass multiplied with latent heat of a substance
Yoblaze
you both?
jyotirmayee
in which class?
jyotirmayee
physics is the only subject which underestimated chemistry ,,bio
jyotirmayee
how capacitor is made in inst?
Piyali
what is dipole moment
Bilal Reply
it is the product of electric charges and distance between the two charges
Shikhar
mishra true thanks dia
Ssempala
product of separation of the poles, the rest shikhar got is right
Brad
brad is separation and distance ,are they different?
Ssempala
What is actually a dipole? I know charge separated by a certain distance.... but what does that really mean? what happens in a dipole? why are the charge of same magnitude?
Monalisa
Dipoles forming as a result of the unbalanced distribution of electrons in asymmetrical molecules
Heeran
What is dielectric
Ashis Reply
its a type of medium. generally poor conductors. but their conductivity can be changed
vedanth
you just have to add impurities
vedanth
Thanks
Ssempala
grt
Ssempala
a material which behave as conductor
Shikhar
insulating material, energy level for electron transfer is very high e.g used to increase a magnetic field in a capacitor
Brad
What is the difference between specific heat capacity and heat capacity? Give the equations
elly Reply
presentation on power
Dyutee Reply
relation between Celsius and Kelvin
Anish Reply
0" degree Celsius=273kelvin
jyotirmayee
Practice Key Terms 3

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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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