# Electric field within a sphere

• 886363
In summary, the sphere has uniform charge density within its volume, except for a small hollow sphere located at the center with radius R. The electric field between radii R and r is E4πd2=Q/ε.
886363

## Homework Statement

A sphere with radius r has uniform charge density ρ within its volume, except for a small hollow sphere located at the center with radius R. Find the electrical field.

ρ=Q/V
∫∫EdS=Q/ε

## The Attempt at a Solution

With the spherical Gaussian surface with radius r:
$E4 \pi r^2=\dfrac{\rho \frac{4\pi r^3}{3}}{\epsilon}$

Is it just a case of finding the electric field from setting a Gaussian surface to the hollow sphere as well and subtracting?

You don't need to do any fancy subtractions.

Set your Gaussian surfaces in the hollow part, in the charged part, and outside the charged part. E will differ in all three and will in all cases be a function of the distance form the center.

Thank you for answering, so for a Gaussian surface with radius < R the electric field will be zero since there are no charges in the hollow sphere?

886363 said:
Thank you for answering, so for a Gaussian surface with radius < R the electric field will be zero since there are no charges in the hollow sphere?

Yes indeed.

Now, what would be the E field between radii R and r?

E=ρ(Vr-VR)/3εr2?

No. Don't involve V. We have area and we have volumetric charge density.

What's the general formula relating the E field, the area of your Gaussian surface and the charge inside that surface?

Oh, and you'll need a new variable for radius since the E field will from now on be a function of the radial distance from the center. Your problem should not have assigned r as the radius of the sphere but too late I guess, so use d as your new variable.

Last edited:
I've used this since the total charge enclosed in the sphere with radius r is ρVr, which would give me the charge enclosed if there was no hollow sphere, hence why I am subtracting to account for the 'missing charge' due to the hollow sphere.

So E4πd2=Q/ε

I'm sorry for sounding stupid but Gauss' Law is something that just isn't clicking for me.

Gauss' law is beautifully simple. It just says that the the total electric flux thru a surface bounding a volume is equal to the charge inside that volume, divided by epsilon.

Flux is the vector dot-product of the electric field times each differential area, integrated over the entire surface. In your case that integral reduces to the area of the surface times the electric field which happens to be constant along the entire surface, due to symmetry.

So now how about we set up a Gaussian surface at a distance d from the center, with R < d < r?

Oh BTW your last formula is correct. What is Q(d)?

So for R<d<r

$d=\sqrt{\dfrac{Q}{4 \pi \epsilon E}}$

and for d>r

$r=\sqrt{\dfrac{Q}{4 \pi \epsilon E}}$

886363 said:
So for R<d<r

$d=\sqrt{\dfrac{Q}{4 \pi \epsilon E}}$

Yes, but solve for E. You had the right idea before: Q = charge inside the Gaussian surface at radius = d minus charge of hollow center.
and for d>r

$r=\sqrt{\dfrac{Q}{4 \pi \epsilon E}}$

No. Why change from d to r? But keep in mind that the total charge Q does not increase for d > r.

So just to check that we're agreeing on the labeling.

R is the radius of the hollow sphere
d is the radius of our Gaussian surface
r radius of the charged sphere

$E_{d<r}=\dfrac{Q_d}{4 \pi d^2 \epsilon}$

$E_{d>r}=\dfrac{Q_r}{4 \pi d^2 \epsilon}$

I really appreciate the help.

886363 said:
So just to check that we're agreeing on the labeling.

R is the radius of the hollow sphere
d is the radius of our Gaussian surface
r radius of the charged sphere

$E_{d<r}=\dfrac{Q_d}{4 \pi d^2 \epsilon}$

$E_{d>r}=\dfrac{Q_r}{4 \pi d^2 \epsilon}$

I really appreciate the help.

Those are right.

But keep in mind that Qd is the charge inside d, so that formula really applies for all d, by definition.

Qr in your formula is the charge inside r but remember to subtract 4πR2ρ from 4πr2ρ .

Qd in your formula is charge inside d < r but again remember to subtract 4πR2ρ from 4πd2ρ .

Last edited:
1 person
I'm really grateful for your help, thank you.

Have a nice day/night.

## 1. What is the formula for calculating the electric field within a sphere?

The formula for calculating the electric field within a sphere is E = Q/(4πεr^2), where Q is the charge of the sphere, ε is the permittivity of the medium, and r is the distance from the center of the sphere.

## 2. How does the electric field within a sphere vary with distance?

The electric field within a sphere follows an inverse square law, meaning that it decreases with distance from the center of the sphere. As the distance increases, the electric field strength decreases.

## 3. Can the electric field within a sphere be negative?

Yes, the electric field within a sphere can be negative. This occurs when the charge of the sphere is negative or when the electric field is directed inward towards the center of the sphere.

## 4. How does the charge distribution within the sphere affect the electric field?

The charge distribution within the sphere affects the electric field by determining its strength and direction. A uniformly charged sphere will have a constant electric field throughout, while a non-uniformly charged sphere will have varying electric field strengths at different points.

## 5. What is the relationship between the electric field within a sphere and the electric potential?

The electric potential within a sphere is directly proportional to the electric field. This means that as the electric field strength increases, the electric potential also increases, and vice versa.

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