# What effects does an electric field have on potential energy?

• JoeyBob
It is the work done by an external force in moving an object from one position to another, against the field, without changing its kinetic energy. In the case of gravity, this work is negative, meaning it is done by the object's own weight. In the case of an electric field, it could be positive or negative depending on the direction of the field and the direction of the movement of the charged particle.

#### JoeyBob

Like an electric field is applying a sort of force on a particle. I was wondering if this at all impacts the potential energy of a particle. For instance, when the force of gravity does work on an object, its potential energy changes as a consequence. Would it be the same thing here?

Yes. The equations are the same only the symbols are different. Charge replaces mass, and ##\frac{1}{4\pi \epsilon_0}## replaces ##G.##

JoeyBob said:
Summary:: When I look this up everything is talking about the effect an electric field has on potential.

Like an electric field is applying a sort of force on a particle. I was wondering if this at all impacts the potential energy of a particle. For instance, when the force of gravity does work on an object, its potential energy changes as a consequence. Would it be the same thing here?
You should distinguish between Gravitational and Electric Potential. They are very distinct. Everything has 'some of each' but in the majority of circumstances that are commonly described, only one of them dominates. It's the Gravitational Potential that governs what planets do and it's the Electrical potential that describes the behaviour of electrons and ions in most circuits and old TV tubes. Life as a small flying insect involves both gravitational and electrical forces because the viscosity of the air is caused by electrical potential at a molecular level but, in still air and without flapping its wings, gravitational force will pull an insect down to the Earth (very slowly). You won't get asked questions about that situation at School level.

"When I look this up". Where are you looking?

Both the gravitational field and electric field obey the inverse square law for point sources. Mathematically they are very similar in that sense, and it makes it easier to learn about the forces between charged particles, if you have studied a similar thing with the gravitational field. Even a uniformly dense spherical mass of finite size acts like a point mass with all of the mass at its center, and the mathematics carries over to the electric case.

vanhees71
sophiecentaur said:
You should distinguish between Gravitational and Electric Potential. They are very distinct. Everything has 'some of each' but in the majority of circumstances that are commonly described, only one of them dominates. It's the Gravitational Potential that governs what planets do and it's the Electrical potential that describes the behaviour of electrons and ions in most circuits and old TV tubes. Life as a small flying insect involves both gravitational and electrical forces because the viscosity of the air is caused by electrical potential at a molecular level but, in still air and without flapping its wings, gravitational force will pull an insect down to the Earth (very slowly). You won't get asked questions about that situation at School level.

"When I look this up". Where are you looking?

But as you can see its talking about electric potential energy. Is this the same as potential energy? Even if I look this up...

Doesnt give what I want...

JoeyBob said:
But as you can see its talking about electric potential energy. Is this the same as potential energy
Electric potential energy is one type of potential energy. Similarly with gravitational potential energy, chemical potential energy, elastic potential energy, etc.

vanhees71
So its change is the same as negative work?

JoeyBob said:
But as you can see its talking about electric potential energy. Is this the same as potential energy?
Did you read the first two lines of my post which you have just quoted? The word "potential`' refers to stored energy per unit of charge (or mass).
To clear things up: Electrical Potential Energy (E) is the Electrical Potential (V) times the amount of charge (Q) involved
E = QV
Likewise for Gravitational Potential and GPE, where the total Energy is the Potential times the Mass.

vanhees71
And all that holds only for static electric fields!

JoeyBob said:
So its change is the same as negative work?
Yes, the definition in terms of work is the same for all types of potential energy.

## 1. How does an electric field affect potential energy?

An electric field can change the potential energy of an object by exerting a force on charged particles within the field. This force can either increase or decrease the potential energy of the object, depending on the direction of the electric field and the charge of the particles.

## 2. What is the relationship between electric field and potential energy?

The relationship between electric field and potential energy is that the electric field is the gradient of the potential energy. This means that the direction and strength of the electric field is determined by the rate of change of potential energy in a given direction.

## 3. Can an electric field create potential energy?

Yes, an electric field can create potential energy by performing work on charged particles. As the particles move against the direction of the electric field, they gain potential energy. This is similar to how an object gains potential energy when it is lifted against the force of gravity.

## 4. How does the strength of an electric field affect potential energy?

The strength of an electric field directly affects potential energy. The stronger the electric field, the greater the force exerted on charged particles and therefore, the greater the change in potential energy. This means that the potential energy of an object can be increased or decreased depending on the strength of the electric field it is in.

## 5. What factors can affect the potential energy of an object in an electric field?

The potential energy of an object in an electric field can be affected by the charge and distance of the object from the source of the electric field. Additionally, the strength and direction of the electric field itself can also impact the potential energy of the object.