The electric field inside a hole inside a conductor is still 0?

In summary: Consequently, the electric field lines inside the cavity must end at the same point, which is point ##a##.In summary, my professor has stated that the electric field inside a conductor is 0, which I understand. However, he has also said that even if the conductor has some hole in it, the electric field inside this hole is also 0. I am quite confused.
  • #1
Eitan Levy
259
11
Homework Statement
-
Relevant Equations
-
This is not a homework question but something that bugs me a bit.

My professor has stated that the electric field inside a conductor is 0. This I understand.

However, he has also said that even if the conductor has some hole in it, the electric field inside this hole is also 0

Now, two examples which confuse me:

Consider a thick spherical shell with radiuses a,b. Now, let there be a point charge q outside the shell. It is said the the electric field inside the shell is 0 due to the reason above.

However, if we move the charge to the center of the shell, it is said that the electric field inside the shell is kq/r^2, which is different than 0.

I am quite confused. Is the statement only correct when there are no charges inside the hole?

Another quick question: If the shell isn't thick, is the electric field inside still 0 for the first example? I believe it is but am not sure.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
I rephrase. Two theorems:

1. The electric field inside a uniformly charged shell, due to that uniformly charged shell, is zero.
2. The electric field from multiple sources is the sum of the electric fields from those sources individually (principle of superposition).

Conducting shells are tricky, since charges redistribute within them in response to applied fields. The conducting shell will likely not be uniformly charged anymore if you introduce a charge to the configuration space, so the electric field inside the shell due to the shell is no longer constrained to be zero by the shell theorem!

However if the additional charge is outside the shell, then the shell acts as a Faraday cage, and the electric field inside the shell will still be zero.

If you introduce an additional charge inside the conducting shell, then the electric field inside the shell will be non-zero.
 
  • Like
Likes Eitan Levy
  • #3
Eitan Levy said:
My professor has stated that the electric field inside a conductor is 0. This I understand.

However, he has also said that even if the conductor has some hole in it, the electric field inside this hole is also 0

Is the statement only correct when there are no charges inside the hole?
Yes, it is only true if there are no charges inside the cavity.

Another quick question: If the shell isn't thick, is the electric field inside still 0 for the first example? I believe it is but am not sure.
E will be 0 no matter the thickness of the shell.

One way to argue that E must be zero at each point of an empty cavity of a conductor in electrostatic equilibrium is as follows. If there is an electric field line inside the cavity, then the line must begin at some point, ##a##, on the wall of the cavity, and end at some other point, ##b##, of the cavity. Recall that if you move along an electric field line in the direction of the field, the electric potential ##V## must decrease. Thus, this would imply that point ##b## is at a lower potential than point ##a##. But this would violate the condition that all points of a conductor in electrostatic equilibrium must be at the same potential.
 
  • Like
Likes Eitan Levy

Related to The electric field inside a hole inside a conductor is still 0?

1. What is an electric field?

An electric field is a physical quantity that describes the strength and direction of the force that a charged particle experiences in an electric field. It is created by a charged particle and can exert a force on other charged particles in its vicinity.

2. Why is the electric field inside a hole inside a conductor 0?

This is because a conductor is a material that allows the free movement of electrons. When an external electric field is applied, the free electrons inside the conductor will redistribute themselves in such a way that the electric field inside the conductor is canceled out. This means that the electric field inside a hole inside a conductor is also 0.

3. Does this mean that there is no electric potential inside the hole?

No, the electric potential inside the hole may still exist. The electric potential is a scalar quantity that describes the amount of energy needed to move a unit charge from one point to another in an electric field. In this case, the electric potential inside the hole may be different from the surrounding area, but the electric field is still 0.

4. How does this concept apply to real-life situations?

The concept of the electric field being 0 inside a hole inside a conductor is important in understanding how charges behave in conductors. It helps explain why charges tend to accumulate on the surface of conductors and how they can be shielded from external electric fields.

5. Can the electric field inside a hole inside a conductor ever be non-zero?

Yes, if the conductor is not in equilibrium or if there are external influences, the electric field inside a hole inside a conductor may not be 0. For example, if the conductor is being charged or if there are other charged objects nearby, the electric field inside the hole may be affected and become non-zero.

Similar threads

  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
355
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
23
Views
720
Replies
22
Views
1K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
10
Views
876
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
4
Views
591
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
26
Views
753
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
1
Views
861
Replies
4
Views
501
Back
Top