Why Electric Flux \Phi is Defined

In summary, the electric flux, denoted as \Phi, is defined as the dot product between the electric field E and the differential area dA. This is because the flux is a measure of the number of electric field lines passing through a surface, and the projection of E along dA determines the amount of field lines passing through it. This is mathematically represented as \Phi = E\cdot dA = EAcos\theta, where \theta is the angle between E and dA. This concept can be illustrated by the analogy of counting bugs splatting on a tilted windscreen, where the number is proportional to cos\theta.
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Why the electric flux [tex]\Phi[/tex] is defined as EAcos[tex]\theta[/tex]?

I don't understand the part about cos[tex]\theta[/tex]...
 
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  • #3
Welcome to PF!

Hi yaik! Welcome to PF! :smile:

Imagine you want to know the flux of bugs flying horizontally along a road.

If you count the number that go splat on your windscreen, then you'll collect less (in a given time) if the windscreen is tilted: the number will be greatest at 90º, and zero at 0º: it'll be proportional to cosθ. :smile:

Mathematically, flux of a field E through a surface with area A is E.(Añ), where ñ is the unit vector normal (perpendicular) to the surface. :wink:
 
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thx!
 
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Electric flux \Phi is a concept used in the study of electromagnetism to describe the flow of electric fields through a given surface. It is defined as the product of the electric field strength and the area of the surface, multiplied by the cosine of the angle between the electric field and the surface normal. This definition is based on the fact that the electric field lines are perpendicular to the surface at any point, and therefore the component of the electric field that is parallel to the surface does not contribute to the flux. This is why the cosine of the angle is included in the equation.

The reason why electric flux is defined in this way is to accurately quantify the amount of electric field passing through a surface. By including the cosine of the angle, we are taking into account the orientation of the surface with respect to the electric field. If the surface is parallel to the electric field, the flux will be at its maximum value. If the surface is perpendicular to the electric field, the flux will be zero. This definition allows us to calculate the electric flux for any given surface and electric field configuration.

In addition, the inclusion of the cosine of the angle also allows us to account for the direction of the electric field. If the electric field is in the same direction as the surface normal, the flux will be positive. If the electric field is in the opposite direction, the flux will be negative. This is important in understanding the behavior and effects of electric fields on different surfaces and objects.

In summary, the definition of electric flux as EAcos\theta is necessary to accurately quantify the flow of electric fields through a surface and take into account the orientation and direction of the electric field. It is a fundamental concept in electromagnetism and is crucial in understanding and analyzing electric fields and their effects.
 

1. Why is electric flux defined?

Electric flux is defined to help us understand and quantify the flow of electric field lines through a given surface. It is a useful concept in understanding the behavior of electric fields and their effects on charged particles.

2. What does electric flux represent?

Electric flux represents the total number of electric field lines passing through a given surface. It is a measure of the strength and direction of the electric field passing through the surface.

3. How is electric flux calculated?

Electric flux is calculated by taking the dot product of the electric field vector and the normal vector to the surface. This is represented by the equation Φ = E · A, where Φ is electric flux, E is electric field, and A is the area of the surface.

4. What is the unit of electric flux?

The unit of electric flux is volt-meters (V·m) or newton-meters squared per coulomb (N·m^2/C). This unit is derived from the equation Φ = E · A, where E is measured in volts per meter (V/m) and A is measured in meters squared (m^2).

5. Why is electric flux defined as a scalar quantity?

Electric flux is defined as a scalar quantity because it only represents the magnitude of the electric field passing through a given surface, and does not have a specific direction associated with it. This is different from electric field, which is a vector quantity that has both magnitude and direction.

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