# Why do negative charges spontaneously accelerate when they move to?

1. Aug 9, 2014

### needingtoknow

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

Why do negative charges spontaneously accelerate?

The book I am studying from asked me to verify this statement:

Negative charges spontaneously accelerate and increase in kinetic energy when they move toward a point of higher potential.

I don't understand why this is the case from a theoretical point of view. I understand why it works according to the formula, but practically if an electron moves to a point of higher potential that means that some of the kinetic energy has been converted to potential energy which means it should slow down right?

2. Aug 9, 2014

### needingtoknow

The electron jumps to a higher orbit so it is farther from the positive nucleus, which means it has jumped to a point of higher potential. However, because it's charge is negative, its change in potential energy is negative which means to go to a higher energy level it has lost potential energy even though it jumped to a point of higher potential. That doesn't seem like it makes sense though. How come it is jumping to a higher potential yet it is losing potential energy?

3. Aug 9, 2014

### Orodruin

Staff Emeritus
It is exactly what you said. The electric potential tells you what the potential energy of a positive test charge would be. A negative charge would have the opposite force and thus the opposite potential energy.