# Dielectric problem -- two line charges inside a dielectric cylinder

• Physgeek64
In summary: You are correct in assuming that the electric potential at a point is finite. The potential can be written in the form##V=a_0+b_0ln(r)+\sum{(a_nr^n+b_nr^{-n})(c_nsin(n\phi)+d_ncos(n\phi))}##
Physgeek64

## Homework Statement

Consider a cylindrical hole of radius a and infinite length cut into a dielectric medium with relative electric permittivity ε (the interior can be treated as a vacuum). Inside the hole there are two line charges of infinite length with line charge densities λ and −λ, respectively. These line charges are arranged parallel to the z−axis, but displaced from it by an amount ±d/2 along the direction φ = 0 (where d ≪ a).

Show that the electrostatic potential due to the line charges in the range d ≪ r ≪ a (i.e. ignoring the effects of the dielectric medium outside) is given to lowest order by

V(r,φ)≃ ##\frac{λ dcosφ}{2πε_0 r}##

Determine the electrostatic potential everywhere for r ≫ d.

## The Attempt at a Solution

for the first part
##\int{E\dot dS}=\frac{Q}{\epsilon_0}##
##E=\frac{\lambda}{2\pi \epsilon_0 r'}##
##V=\int{E\dot dr'}##
##V=\frac{\lambda}{2\pi \epsilon_0}\ln{r'}##

##V_{total}=\frac{\lambda}{2\pi\epsilon_0}[\ln{|\vec{r}-\frac{d}{2}\vec{x}}-\ln{|\vec{r}+\frac{d}{2}\vec{x}}]##
##|\vec{r}+\frac{d}{2}\vec{x}| ~r+\frac{d}{2}cos\phi##

##V_{total}=\frac{\lambda}{2\pi \epsilon_0}[\ln{r-\frac{d}{2} cos\phi}-\ln{r+\frac{d}{2} cos\phi}] ##
##V_{total}=-\frac{\lambda}{2\pi \epsilon_0}\frac{cos\phi}{r} ##

I don't know why I get a minus here- i assume I've done something wrong.

Im really struggling with the next part of the question. I know the boundary conditions are that the parallel component of E must be continuous and also the perpendicular component of D must be continuous since we have no free charges at the boundary.

Many thanks

Last edited:
A minus sign is missing from the electric field equation. It should be ##V = -\int{\vec{E} \cdot d\vec{r}}##. Also can you please use the "PREVIEW" button and proofread your equations before posting them? They are hard to read.

kuruman said:
A minus sign is missing from the electric field equation. It should be ##V = -\int{\vec{E} \cdot d\vec{r}}##. Also can you please use the "PREVIEW" button and proofread your equations before posting them? They are hard to read.
Thank you. I wondered where that minus sign came from. Do you happen to know how to do the next part?

Thank you for fixing the equations. Your ##V_{total}## is incorrect. Other than the negative sign, there is a ##d## missing in the numerator. I think it's because you did not treat ##r'## correctly. The electric field is

$$\vec{E}= \frac{\lambda}{2 \pi \epsilon_0} \left[ \frac{(x-d/2)\hat{x}+y\hat{y}}{ [ (x-d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2} } -\frac{(x+d/2)\hat{x}+y\hat{y}}{ [ (x+d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2} } \right]$$
If ##r_{\pm} = [ (x \pm d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2}## and ##r=(x^2+y^2)^{1/2}##, what does ##r_{\pm}## become in the limit ##d << r << a##?

On edit: Define ##x=r \cos \phi,~~y=r \sin \phi## and do a series expansion for ##d/r << 1##.

Last edited:
kuruman said:
Thank you for fixing the equations. Your ##V_{total}## is incorrect. Other than the negative sign, there is a ##d## missing in the numerator. I think it's because you did not treat ##r'## correctly. The electric field is

$$\vec{E}= \frac{\lambda}{2 \pi \epsilon_0} \left[ \frac{(x-d/2)\hat{x}+y\hat{y}}{ [ (x-d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2} } -\frac{(x+d/2)\hat{x}+y\hat{y}}{ [ (x+d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2} } \right]$$
If ##r_{\pm} = [ (x \pm d/2)^2+y^2]^{1/2}## and ##r=(x^2+y^2)^{1/2}##, what does ##r_{\pm}## become in the limit ##d << r << a##?

On edit: Define ##x=r \cos \phi,~~y=r \sin \phi## and do a series expansion for ##d/r << 1##.

Thank you you spotting that. That was just a typo. I do get that factor of d with my method

Can you finish the problem now?

kuruman said:
Can you finish the problem now?
No, it was the next bit that I struggled with

Have you studied the Uniqueness Theorem and solutions to Laplace's Equation in cylindrical symmetry? The potential you found is only approximate. One of the boundary conditions is continuity of the potential across the dielectric boundary. You cannot satisfy that without adding another term to the potential. Look for one that becomes very small at r ≈ 0.

kuruman said:
Have you studied the Uniqueness Theorem and solutions to Laplace's Equation in cylindrical symmetry? The potential you found is only approximate. One of the boundary conditions is continuity of the potential across the dielectric boundary. You cannot satisfy that without adding another term to the potential. Look for one that becomes very small at r ≈ 0.
We know that V-> 0 as r-> ##\infinity## inside the dielectric so the potential here must take the form
##V=\sum{r^{-n}(c_nsin(n\phi)+d_ncos(n\phi)}##

inside the cavity we have
##V=a_0+b_0ln(r)+\sum{(a_nr^n+b_nr^{-n})(c_nsin(n\phi)+d_ncos(n\phi))}##

Am i right in assuming that we can say that V must be finite at r=0 so ##a_0=0##, ##b_0=0## and ##b_n=0## ? If i do this then my solution for V does not match the lowest order approximation

Backtrack a bit. You still have not derived that ##V(r,\phi)=\frac{λ dcosφ}{2πε_0 r}##. You need to find an approximate expression for the electric field as I indicated in post #4 and do the integral correctly. This ##V_{total}=\frac{\lambda}{2\pi\epsilon_0}[\ln{|\vec{r}-\frac{d}{2}\vec{x}}-\ln{|\vec{r}+\frac{d}{2}\vec{x}}]## is not correct because you got sloppy with the arguments of the logarithms. You need to redo this.

Also note that the expression ##V(r,\phi)=\frac{λ dcosφ}{2πε_0 r}## is an approximate expression for r >>d. It looks to me like the b1 term in the expansion with c1=0. Another point to note is that because the +λ line is to the right of the -λ line, the potential must change sign right to left of the perpendicular bisector between the charge lines. What does this say about the coefficients cn and dn and about the possible values of n?

## 1. What is a dielectric cylinder?

A dielectric cylinder is a cylindrical object made of a material that does not conduct electricity, also known as an insulator. This material is able to store and polarize electric charges, and is commonly used in capacitors and other electronic components.

## 2. What is the "dielectric problem" with two line charges inside a dielectric cylinder?

The dielectric problem refers to the calculation of electric potential and field inside a dielectric cylinder when there are two line charges present. This problem is commonly used in theoretical and experimental studies of electrostatics.

## 3. How are line charges represented in the dielectric problem?

In the dielectric problem, line charges are typically represented as infinitely long, straight charged lines. These lines are used to model the behavior of electric charges in a simplified manner and can be used to calculate the electric potential and field at different points inside the dielectric cylinder.

## 4. What is the importance of solving the dielectric problem with two line charges?

The dielectric problem with two line charges inside a dielectric cylinder is important for understanding the behavior of electric fields and potential in practical applications. It can provide insight into the behavior of charged particles in dielectric materials and can be used to design and optimize electronic components such as capacitors and insulators.

## 5. Are there any real-life applications of the dielectric problem with two line charges?

Yes, the dielectric problem with two line charges has many real-life applications. It is used in the design of electronic components such as capacitors, insulators, and transmission lines. It is also used in the study of lightning strikes and the behavior of charged particles in dielectric materials.

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