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Electric potential energy question

  1. Sep 2, 2009 #1


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    I've done an exercise that made me think a bit.
    Here's it is : https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=333608.

    So the electric potential energy of a 1 dimensional crystal (lattice?) formed by alternating ions is about [tex]\frac{-ke^2 \ln 2}{a}[/tex]. So as it is a negative number, I would have to do some work to separate the charges composing the crystal and the crystal is stable.
    While if it would have been a positive number, the crystal wouldn't have been stable and I would have to do work to maintain the charges the place they are.
    But what if the infinite sum is worth [tex]0[/tex]?
    I know that I need no work to take one charged particle from infinity to anywhere, so the electric potential energy of the particle would be [tex]0[/tex]... but what if I have a system of charged particles with a total electric energy equal to [tex]0[/tex]? Is this hypothetical system stable? What does that mean that its electric potential is null?
  2. jcsd
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