# Potential energy of an electric dipole

• Samanko
In summary, the conversation discusses a problem from a textbook involving the equation for potential energy of an electric dipole. The speaker is unsure which electric fields to apply due to the complicated configuration. The suggestion is made to place the center dipole in position and then bring the other two closer until the final configuration is reached, in order to determine the direction of the electric field. The question is posed of which configuration is easier or more energy efficient.
Samanko
Homework Statement
When three electric dipoles are near each other, they each experience the electric field of the other two, and the three-dipole system has a certain potential energy. Figure shows two arrangenents in which three electric dipoles are side by side. Each dipole has the same magnitude of electric dipole moment, and the spacings between adjacent dipoles are identical. In which arrangrment is the potential energy of the three-dipole system greater?
Relevant Equations
U = - p • E
This is a problem from a textbook, and I can't solve it.
I know that the equation of Potential energy of electric dipole. Since the configuration is a little bit complicated. I'm confused applying which electric fields.

Delta2
Samanko said:
I'm confused applying which electric fields
Try the following: place the center dipole in its position, leave the other two at infinity (e.g. to left and right). Now bring those two closer until you have the final configuration. Which way does ##\vec E## point ? So which of (a) and (b) is easier (cheaper, lower energy) ?

Samanko
BvU said:
Try the following: place the center dipole in its position, leave the other two at infinity (e.g. to left and right). Now bring those two closer until you have the final configuration. Which way does ##\vec E## point ? So which of (a) and (b) is easier (cheaper, lower energy) ?
Thank you!

## What is potential energy of an electric dipole?

The potential energy of an electric dipole is the amount of energy that is associated with the arrangement of two opposite charges separated by a certain distance. It is a measure of the work required to bring the two charges from infinity to their current position.

## How is the potential energy of an electric dipole calculated?

The potential energy of an electric dipole can be calculated using the formula U = -pE cosθ, where U is the potential energy, p is the magnitude of the dipole moment, E is the electric field, and θ is the angle between the dipole moment and the electric field.

## What is the relationship between potential energy and dipole moment?

The potential energy of an electric dipole is directly proportional to the magnitude of the dipole moment. This means that as the dipole moment increases, the potential energy also increases.

## How does the distance between charges affect the potential energy of an electric dipole?

The potential energy of an electric dipole is inversely proportional to the distance between the charges. This means that as the distance between the charges increases, the potential energy decreases.

## What is the significance of potential energy of an electric dipole?

The potential energy of an electric dipole is important in understanding the behavior of electric dipoles and their interactions with electric fields. It is also used in various applications such as in the design of electrical circuits and in the study of molecular interactions.

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