electric potential concept Definition and Topics - 10 Discussions

The electric potential (also called the electric field potential, potential drop, the electrostatic potential) is the amount of work energy needed to move a unit of electric charge from a reference point to the specific point in an electric field with negligible acceleration of the test charge to avoid producing kinetic energy or radiation by test charge. Typically, the reference point is the Earth or a point at infinity, although any point can be used. More precisely it is the energy per unit charge for a small test charge that does not disturb significantly the field and the charge distribution producing the field under consideration.
In classical electrostatics, the electrostatic field is a vector quantity which is expressed as the gradient of the electrostatic potential, which is a scalar quantity denoted by V or occasionally φ, equal to the electric potential energy of any charged particle at any location (measured in joules) divided by the charge of that particle (measured in coulombs). By dividing out the charge on the particle a quotient is obtained that is a property of the electric field itself. In short, electric potential is the electric potential energy per unit charge.
This value can be calculated in either a static (time-invariant) or a dynamic (varying with time) electric field at a specific time in units of joules per coulomb (J⋅C−1), or volts (V). The electric potential at infinity is assumed to be zero.
In electrodynamics, when time-varying fields are present, the electric field cannot be expressed only in terms of a scalar potential. Instead, the electric field can be expressed in terms of both the scalar electric potential and the magnetic vector potential. The electric potential and the magnetic vector potential together form a four vector, so that the two kinds of potential are mixed under Lorentz transformations.
Practically, electric potential is always a continuous function in space; Otherwise, the spatial derivative of it will yield a field with infinite magnitude, which is practically impossible. Even an idealized point charge has 1 ⁄ r potential, which is continuous everywhere except the origin. The electric field is not continuous across an idealized surface charge, but it is not infinite at any point. Therefore, the electric potential is continuous across an idealized surface charge. An idealized linear charge has ln(r) potential, which is continuous everywhere except on the linear charge.

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  1. S

    Potential due to a charged plate using the dipole approximation

    Homework Statement A plane z=0 is charged with density, changing periodically according to the law: σ = σ° sin(αx) sin (βy) where, σ°, α and β are constants. We have to find the potential of this system of charges. Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution [/B] I...
  2. B

    Analogy for Electrical potential

    When the eletctric field was defined I could totally relate to E is like g in mechanics. But for the electric potential I don't know. What would be equivalent analogy?
  3. Marcus Nielsen

    Electric potential due to a solid sphere

    Hello Guys! This is my first post so bear with me. I am currently studying the basics of electrostatics using the textbook "Introduction to electrodynamics 3 edt. - David J. Griffiths". My problem comes when i try to solve problem 2.21. Find the potential V inside and outside a uniformly...
  4. Nabin kalauni

    Electric field and potential

    I understand that if electric field at any point is 0, it implies that potential is constant not necessarily 0. But what if the potential at a point is 0? Does it imply that electric field is 0? Me and my friend had an argument and I am in the favour of electric field not being 0. Do I win guys...
  5. J

    Deriving expression for potential of a point charge

    Homework Statement I am trying to derive an expression for the potential of a positive point charge by bringing in another positive test charge in from infinity to a point at a distance R from the point charge. Homework Equations $$V_f - V_i = - \int \vec E \cdot d \vec r \, dr$$ The Attempt...
  6. H

    Help with understanding electric potential graphs

    Please could someone explain to me the graph on the left (for the positive source charge). I understand that the value for electric potential will be positive because of the source charge being positive, but why does it appear to decrease to zero at infinity, when the graph on the left (for the...
  7. C

    Electric Potential of a Point Charge close to R=0

    Homework Statement ≈ What is a 3D representation of voltage using Kq/r assuming a positive point charge and what is the equation in cartesian and cylindrical form 2. Relavent equations Kq/r 3. Attempt at solution[/B] I was trying to get a better understanding of Voltage, to really FEEL...
  8. Amal Thejus

    How can the neutral regions in a diode have constant potential?

    Homework Statement It is said that the potential in the neutral regions of a PN junction diode is CONSTANT. Homework Equations V=Q/4ΠΣr The Attempt at a Solution It is said in all textbooks to ASSUME that the electric field in the neutral regions as zero. Two aspects confuse me. 1. What...
  9. jackMybrain@ru

    Derive an equation for electric potential V(z) on z axis

    Homework Statement Hi, I am stuck with this homework. I have been asked to make an equation out of a diagram for V(z) using V=kQ/r equation, where z is a positive axis centred with four negative charges. Here is the diagram. 2. Relevant equation E=F/q F of point charge: F=kQq/r^2 E=kQ/r^2...
  10. S

    Zero Electric Potential Concept and Visualization

    Homework Statement Hi, I've been having problems visualizing and interpreting a situation where there is zero potential in a point, equidistant, between two opposite charges. What is the significance of this? Here's a sample problem: Consider two point charges. One has a charge of +1 μC and...
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