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Potential Energy of a Collection of charges

  1. Sep 16, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    Three equal point charges, each with charge 1.35 \mu C, are placed at the vertices of an equilateral triangle whose sides are of length 0.350 m. What is the electric potential energy U of the system? (Take as zero the potential energy of the three charges when they are infinitely far apart.)

    2. Relevant equations

    U=k(Qq/r)




    3. The attempt at a solution

    should i just find the U for each pair and then just multiply it by the number of possible pairs since the distances and charges are all equal? my answer = .138J
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2009 #2
    Yup, seems correct to me. The magnitude of the total potential energy of a system of charges is the amount of energy required to separate each of the charges to infinity and thus to "break up" each pair.
     
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