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Electric Potential vrs Electric Potential Energy

  1. May 25, 2004 #1
    I'm trying to grasp the concept between Electric Potential and Electric Potential Energy.

    A charge object has an electric potential,

    and electric potential =
    electric potential energy/charge

    I still can't explain the difference between the two(Electric Potential vrs Electric Potential Energy)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2004 #2


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    Example: You have a charge Q designated as your source charge. It produces an electrostatic potential field V(r) all around it (that's why we call it the "source", since it is the source of the field).

    At a distance r away from Q, you have a potential field V(r). Now, if you put a TEST charge q at that location, this test charge will experience that potential field V(r). The potential energy that this test charge will have is U(r) = q*V(r).

    Therefore, to obtain a potential energy, you need a test charge to be in a potential field. This potential field is external to it, i.e. it is created by some other source (in our example, it was created by source charge Q). This potential energy is equivalent to the work done when you bring the test charge q from infinity to position r away from Q.

    Now do you see the difference?

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