# Potential Energy of an Electric Field

jbunten
Hi,

This should be quite a simple question but here goes:

My question is about the conservation of electrical potential energy. Say we have a conducting plate filled with a positive charge Q. If we place a small +ve charge q in its vicinity it will accelerate away as the charges repel each other, where has the potential energy in Q's Field "gone" that repelled q?

Gold Member
Hi,

This should be quite a simple question but here goes:

My question is about the conservation of electrical potential energy. Say we have a conducting plate filled with a positive charge Q. If we place a small +ve charge q in its vicinity it will accelerate away as the charges repel each other, where has the potential energy in Q's Field "gone" that repelled q?

No where,the potential will always be there if the charge q is there.

The concept of a field classically is that any point charge 1 has potential to do some work. If another "test" charge is placed in the vicinity of charge 1 then the work that charge 1 does on the test charge will be the field potential at that point.
In a way a field is a kinda model of the charge another charge q3 would experience if placed at a certain point within the vicinity of charge q4.