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Electric Potential

  1. May 4, 2009 #1
    Lately I have been struggling with the concepts of electric potential and potential difference.

    Here is a paraphrase of a scenario I am having trouble understanding. Suppose there is a negatively charged plate across from a positively charged plate. The electric field flows left to right, indicating that the negatively charged plate is on the right.

    Now, suppose an electron is placed next to the negatively charged plate. I understand that here it is all potential energy, yet somehow its electric potential is at its smallest at this point. How does a negatively charged object move naturally from a low potential to a high potential? How can an electron, as described, have a low electric potential at a point where its potential energy is the highest?


    I would appreciate an explanation, thank you very much

    Oscar
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2009 #2

    jtbell

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    Staff: Mentor

    The electron does not "have" electric potential. Electric potential is a property of the location at which the electron is located, and exists regardless of whether the electron is there or not. (Assuming that the charged plates that create the potential are still there, of course.)

    The electric potential energy of a charge Q, placed at at a location that has electric potential V, is PE = QV. You have to take into account the + or - signs of both Q and V.
     
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