What Difference Does Voltage Level Make to An Atom?

In summary, the conversation revolves around the effects of a voltage difference between a copper wire and a copper plate. The question is raised about the difference between the two atoms and the role of external voltage in pushing the electrons. It is concluded that the potential difference has no local effect on the atoms, only local gradients in potential are significant.
  • #1
abrogard
99
3
We could have a copper wire at 10,000 V above a copper plate at 0V.

At the end of the wire, one atom of copper. Beneath it: one atom of copper.

What is the difference between the two atoms because of this voltage difference?

Conventionally the current flows from positive to negative. But we know the electrons flow from negative to positive. So another way to put the question: what is different about the 29 electrons in the base plate rather than the 29 electrons in the copper wire atom?

Or is the voltage - for argument's sake a massive potential of say 20,000V - external to the electrons and something that pushes them? Then what and where?
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
abrogard said:
Or is the voltage - for argument's sake a massive potential of say 20,000V - external to the electrons and something that pushes them?
That is it. It is external.
Then what and where?
You stipulated it as part of the scenario setup.
 
  • #3
I don't understand. Can you be clearer? I only stipulated a voltage and the query is what effect that voltage on the atom - meaning within the atom giving rise to a difference between that atom and an atom at zero volts.

So you're saying there's no difference between the two atoms?
 
  • #4
abrogard said:
I only stipulated a voltage and the query is what effect that voltage on the atom
You asked, [paraphrasing]: "If the voltage is external to the electrons then what is it and where".

And yes, the answer is that there is no difference. Potential difference between two points has no local effect at either point. Only local gradients in the potential are physically meaningful.
 
  • #5
That's that question satisfied, then. If 'point' can mean 'atom'. So onto the next question. Which should have a new thread I think.

Thank you.
 

Related to What Difference Does Voltage Level Make to An Atom?

1. What is voltage level?

Voltage level refers to the amount of electrical potential difference between two points in an electrical circuit. It is measured in units of volts (V) and can be thought of as the force that pushes electrons through a circuit.

2. How does voltage level affect an atom?

Voltage level can affect an atom by changing the energy levels of its electrons. When a higher voltage level is applied, the electrons in an atom can be excited to higher energy levels, causing changes in the atom's behavior and properties.

3. Can voltage level change the structure of an atom?

Yes, voltage level can change the structure of an atom by altering the arrangement of its electrons. This can lead to changes in the atom's chemical and physical properties.

4. What happens to an atom when it is exposed to high voltage levels?

When an atom is exposed to high voltage levels, its electrons can be excited to higher energy levels, causing the atom to become more reactive and potentially leading to the formation of new chemical bonds.

5. Is there a limit to how much voltage an atom can withstand?

Yes, there is a limit to how much voltage an atom can withstand. This limit is known as the breakdown voltage and varies depending on the type of atom and its surrounding environment.

Similar threads

  • Electromagnetism
2
Replies
36
Views
3K
Replies
19
Views
1K
Replies
6
Views
11K
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
30
Views
3K
Replies
14
Views
3K
Replies
6
Views
841
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
15
Views
1K
Replies
19
Views
2K
Replies
19
Views
3K
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
4
Views
1K
Back
Top