Is the charge distribution for an electric field unique?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

If the electric field and boundary conditions are known exactly for a region of space, is it true that there exists only one charge distribution in that region of space that could have produced it?

My understanding of the uniqueness theorem in electrostatics is that for a given charge distribution and boundary conditions for a volume, there exists only one (unique) solution to Poisson's equation, and thus the electric field in that volume is uniquely determined. Does the arrow point the other way, too? If we know the field and boundary conditions, is the charge distribution uniquely determined in the volume? Is there a simple example that illustrates why or why not?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
867
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Charge distributed on a sphere should produce the same electric field regardless of the size of the sphere. For example, if you measure the electric field at a point 1 m from X you cant tell if the the field you observe results from a sphere of 1 cm or 99 cm radius centered at X.
 

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