I thought circuits had to be closed

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  • Thread starter joel amos
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  • #1
joel amos
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Homework Statement


I am supposed to determine the potential differences between the points. However, I thought circuits had to be closed...
2w5n9ck.png
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Stephen Tashi
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Such a circuit would have to be closed in order for current to flow, but not for voltages to exist. If there is no current, then no voltage is dropped across each resistor.
 
  • #3
gneill
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Circuits have to be closed for current to flow continuously, but potential difference does not depend upon a closed path or on continuous current flow. It is enough that there is some path between the points so that can do a "KVL walk" from one to the other, adding up the potential changes along the way.
 
  • #4
joel amos
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If there is no current, then no voltage is dropped across each resistor.
So how then do I calculate potential difference without current?

I'd usually use the formula V = I*R.
 
  • #5
gneill
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So how then do I calculate potential difference without current?

I'd usually use the formula V = I*R.
Yes, and if I=0?
 
  • #6
joel amos
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Yes, and if I=0?
Well, then there would be no drop in voltage. Does this mean that the potential difference at all three points is the same?

EDIT: Well I guess there would be current through R2.

So then would the potential difference between A and B be 9 V, the difference between A and C be 9 V, and the difference C and B be 0 V?
 
Last edited:
  • #7
gneill
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Well, then there would be no drop in voltage. Does this mean that the potential difference at all three points is the same?
Not quite. The battery will maintain a fixed potential difference regardless of current flow or not.
EDIT: Well I guess there would be current through R2.

So then would the potential difference between A and B be 9 V, the difference between A and C be 9 V, and the difference C and B be 0 V?
Yup.
 
  • #8
Stephen Tashi
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So how then do I calculate potential difference without current?

How do you find potential difference across the two terminals of a battery when they aren't connected ?
What would the potential difference be in the ends of two unconnected wires that had their other ends connected to opposite terminals of a battery?
 

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