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Voltage and the concept of work

  1. Jun 25, 2009 #1
    Okay, I understand that voltage is the work done per unit of charge from the electric field to move a charge from one point to another.

    What does it mean for work being done on a charge? Are the charges being moved by an electric field? If so, why would the electrons move towards the negative terminal in a battery? Why not the positive terminal? (Since + goes with -.)
     
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  3. Jun 25, 2009 #2

    Mapes

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    To do work on a charge, we have to move it in opposition to an electric field. We do work, the charge gains energy.

    In the case of a battery, electrons in the external circuit move spontaneously from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. Ions inside the battery complete the circuit, driven by a chemical reaction that performs work on the ions.
     
  4. Jun 25, 2009 #3
    I understand that. However, where is work coming from? What causing work to be done on the charge?
     
  5. Jun 26, 2009 #4

    Mapes

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    The work comes from the chemical potential energy of two or more chemicals that are not at equilibrium and react when placed together.
     
  6. Jun 26, 2009 #5
    Ah that makes sense. Thanks!
     
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