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Concept of work

Work is said to be done by a force when the point of application is displaced under the influence
of the force. Work is a scalar quantity and it is measured by the product of the magnitude of force
and the component of displacement along the direction of force.
In fact, work is the scalar product (dot product) of the force vector and the displacement vector.
Thus , W = = FS cos
Where F and S are the magnitude of force and displacement vectors and is the angle between
For cos positive, W = positive
For = /2, W = 0
For /2 < < 3/2, work is negative
Example 1: A particle of mass 2 kg moves under the action of a constant force F-> = (5i^-2j^ ) N.
If its displacement is 6i^ m, what is the work done by the force ?
Solution: The force acting on the body is F-> = (5i^ 2j^ ) N. while the displacement , x-> = 6i^ m
The work done = F->.x-> = (5i^ 2j^ ) . 6i^
= 30 joule
Exercise 1: A tug, exerting a pulling force of 800 N due north, tows a barge through a distance of
1 km in a direction 300 E of north. What is the work done by the tug ?
Exercise 2 : A particle moves under a force F-> = xyi^ + y2j^ and traverses along a path y = 4x +
1. Find the work done by the force when the particle is displaced from the point P(1, 5) to Q(2,
Work done by a variable force

The equation W = F->.S-> = FS cos is applicable when remains constant but when the force is
variable work is obtained by integrating F->.ds->
Thus, W = F->.ds->
An example of a variable force is the spring force in which force depends on the extension x,
i.e., F->= F->(x)

When the force is time dependent, we have

W = F->.dX-> = F->.v->dt
where F-> and v-> are the instantaneous force and velocity vectors.
Example : A body acted upon by a force F-> , given by, F-> = k [(cos t) i^ + (sin t )j^ ]
undergoes displacement, where the position vector r-> of the body is given by r-> = a[cos (t + )
+sin (t + ) ]. Find the work done by the force from time t = 0 to time t = 2 /
Solution : The position of body is given by
r-> = a[cos (t + )i^ + sin (t + )j^ ]
Its velocity is given by,
v-> = dr->/dt = d/dt [ a cos (t + ) + a sin (t + ) ]
= a sin (t + )i^ + a cos (t + )j^
The power developed by this force is,

= (ak) cos (t) sin (t + ) (ak) sin (t) cos (t + )

= ak [ sin (t + ) cos t cos (t + ) sin t]
= ak sin (t + t)
= ak sin
W = dW = ak sin o 2/dt
= ak sin x 2/ = 2 a k sin
Exercise 3: A particle is acted upon by a force given by = A cos t +B and its position vector is
given by r-> = a[(cos (t)i^ + sin (t)j^ ] + (1/2) bt2k^
Find the work done on the particle by the force F-> from time t = / 2 to time t = /
Conservative & Non-conservative Forces

If the work done by a force field along a closed path is zero, the force is said to be conservative
otherwise it is called non-conservative. Under such forces, the work done depends only upon the

initial and final positions and is path independent.

Conservative forces are non-dissipative and we store work (or energy ) whereas the nonconservative forces are dissipative where in we do not store work.
Examples of non-conservative force are friction, viscous force etc.
Example : A particle is taken from point P to point Q via the path PAQ and then placed back to
point P via the path QBP. Find the work done by gravity on the body over this closed path.
Vertical separation between P and Q is h as shown.

Solution: Here, displacement of the particle is PQ, gravity is acting vertically downward.
The vertical component of PQ is h (say) upward. Hence
W(PAQ) = -mgh . . . (1)
For the path QBP, component of the displacement along vertical is h(downward)
In this case,
W(QBP) = mgh
Total work done = WPAQ + WQBP = 0
Problems based On Work done

Example : A block of mass m is moving down with constant velocity along an inclined plane of
inclination . What is the work done in pulling the block along the inclined plane through a
height h with constant velocity.

Solution : Since the block moves down along the inclined plane with constant velocity, its net
acceleration is zero. Therefore the net external force acting on the block is zero.

=> Fx = 0 and Fy = 0
=> mg Sin fk = 0 where
fk = kinetic friction developed at the interface of the block and the inclined plane (since the block
is sliding).
=> fk = mg sin ..(1)
Let the applied force F be parallel to the inclined plane. When it pulls the block up, kinetic
friction acts down to oppose the relative motion. The work done by the force to displace the
block through a distance l along the inclined plane is given as
W = F> .S> = FS = Fl
where l = h cosec
=> W = F h cosec ..(2)

Since the block slides up with constant velocity, the net acceleration, therefore the net force
acting on the block,
Fx = 0 and Fy = 0
=> F mg sin fk = 0 .(3)

Using (1) and (3)

F = 2mg sin .(4)
Using (2) and (3), we obtain
W = 2 mgh
Examle: Find the work done by the frictional force in drawing a circle of radius r by a pencil of
negligible mass with a normal pressing force N (coefficient of friction k)
Solution: The kinetic frictional force at any instantaneous position is fk = kN.
fk -> , acts tangentially opposite to the motion of the pencil.
For elementary displacement dl-> the work done by fk -> is dW = fk ->.dl-> = fk dl
=> W = o2r fk dl = kN o2r dl
= kN 2r = 2r kN
Exercise 4: In the figure an inextensible string that connects two bodies of mass M and m,
passing over a fixed smooth pulley. The body M slides along a smooth vertical rigid bar. If the
body M is released from the given position, find the maximum distance raised by body m. (M <

Work done by the spring force

Let a light spring of unstretched length lo and spring constant K is fixed at one end on the vertical
wall and kept horizontally.
The free end is pulled to stretch the spring by x , slowly. The force in the spring developed due to
elongation in the spring is given by
Fs = -K x
where x is the displacement of the free end of the spring. Since this magnitude of the force s is
proportional to the magnitude of elongation, the force is a variable force. Thus the work done by
the spring force for further elementary displacement d is given by
dWi = Fs-> . dx-> (14)
It is assumed that |F i->| does not change significantly for further elementary displacement dx->
Therefore, the net work done for the entire outward elongation x-> is
Wi = ox F->.dx->
= ox Kx-> .dx-> .(15)
The negative sign indicates that i is opposite to . But and d are along the same direction.
i.e. Cos = Cos0 = 1
Therefore, Wi = ox K x dx
Wi = (-1/2) K x2 (16)
Similarly the work done by the applied force in stretching the spring is
W = ox F->.dx-> (17)

As it is mentioned earlier that the free end of the spring is pulled with uniform velocity, therefore
|F-> | = |Fi->| = Kx
Hence from equation (17) we find

This is the work done by the applied force.

Exercise : Find the work done by an external agent in lowering a block of mass m slowly on a
light spring of stiffness k , till it comes to rest.

A system can do work provided it has energy for example, in lifting a body through a height h,
work is done against the conservative force (gravity) by an external agent and thus work is stored
in the form of energy. Similarly, in stretching a spring, work done is (1/2)kx2 , which is also
stored in the spring.
Thus, energy (or stored work) is that physical quantity which enables a system to do work. With
reference to sources and forms, energies have the form like heat, light, nuclear, mechanical etc.
In this section, we restrict ourselves to mechanical energy which comprises two forms :
(i) kinetic energy (ii) potential energy
Kinetic energy & Work energy theorem :

To get an expression for Kinetic energy, let us take an example shown in figure, in which a block
of mass m kept on a rough horizontal surface acted upon by a constant force parallel to the
surface. The corresponding F.B.D. is shown in the figure below, which gives
F fk = m a->


and N = mg


Initially while the force is just applied, the block is at the position A and has a velocity v0. The
force acted on it for some interval of time t so that the block reaches to a position B at a
distance x from A.
Now, the work done by the net external force along the surface is
W = ( F-> fk->) . x> = m a-> .x->
= ma x
since cos = cos0 = 1 , being the angle between a> and x>

Therefore, W = ma x


Again from kinematical equation for the velocities at A and B, we have

v2 = v02 + 2ax
where v is the velocity of the block at the position B.
Putting the value of ax from above equation , we have

The work done by the other two forces in F.B.D. for the displacement x-> are zero because N-> .x->
= 0 and also mg> . x> = 0.
The equation (5) has two important consequences.
(a) It establishes an important theorem related to work and energy, and

(b) It gives the concept of kinetic energy.

Firstly if v0 = 0 i.e. initially the block is at rest, then
W = (1/2)mv2


which implies kinetic energy is the energy possessed by the body in motion. If speed is zero, then
kinetic energy is also zero.
Secondly , W = (1/2)mv02 = Ki (let), initial kinetic energy,
and (1/2)mv2 = Kf , called final kinetic energy for the interval of time t under consideration in
the example.
Therefore equation (5) can be written as
W = Kf Ki (7)
Thus equation (7) can be explained as the net work done by the external forces on a system gives
the change in kinetic energy of the system. This itself is the work energy theorem.
Problems based on energy

Exercise 6: Two masses M and m are connected by a light inextensible string which passes over
a small pulley as shown in the diagram. If the mass m is moving downward with a velocity v
when the string makes an angle of 45 with the horizontal, find the total K.E. of the two masses.
Assume that the mass M moves horizontally.

Exercise 7 : Shown in the figure is an inextensible light string that connects two bodies of
masses M and m. The string passes over the pulleys P1, P2 and P3 so that the body M moves
down on a smooth horizontal surface and the body m moves down. If the instantaneous speed of
M is v, find the Kinetic Energy of the system.

Kinetic Energy in Terms of Momentum

With reference to the adjacent figure, a body of mass m moving on a surface with a velocity v
has a momentum , P = m v (i)
The kinetic energy of the same body is,
K = (1/2) m v2 (ii)
Therefore from equations (i) and (ii), we have
K = P2/2m
Potential energy

Potential energy of any body is the energy possessed by the body by virtue of its position or the
state of deformation. With every potential energy there is an associated conservative force.
The potential energy is measured as the magnitude of work done against the associated
conservative force.
For example:
(i) To place an object at any point in gravitational field work is to be done against gravitational
field force.
The magnitude of this work done against the gravitational force gives the measure of
gravitational potential energy of the body at that position, which is U = mgh. Here h is the height
of object from the reference level .
(ii) The magnitude of work done against the spring force to compress it gives the measure of
elastic potential energy, which is U = (1/2) Kx2
(iii) A charged body in any electrostatic field will have electrostatic potential energy.
Conservation of energy

Conservation of energy means conservation of all forms of energy together. Accounting all forms
of energy within an isolated system the total energy remains constant. While mechanical energy
accounts only two forms of energy namely kinetic energy K and potential energy U.
If only conservative forces act on a system then total mechanical energy of the system remains
i.e. K + U = Constant ..(1)
Therefore, K + U = 0 (2)
i.e. K = U (3)

This can be understood with reference to an example where, a block of mass M is attached to one
end of a light spring of force constant K as, shown in figure . The other end of the spring is fixed
to a vertical wall. The block is kept on a smooth horizontal surface. If the block is pulled outward
and held at rest, the spring is elongated through a distance.
Now at this position the magnitude of work done by the spring force is numerically
equal to (1/2) KX2 = U(x) is the measure of potential energy and as the block is at rest the kinetic
energy is zero, shown in figure .
Therefore total mechanical energy at this position is
K + U(x) = 0 + 1/2 KX2 ..(4)

Now the block is released and just when the spring comes back to its unstretched condition
(figure ), then U(x) becomes zero. At that position let the velocity of the block be v0
Therefore, the total mechanical energy becomes kinetic energy,
K + U(x) = 1/2 m vo2 + 0 (5)
If we consider any intermediate position of stretching of the spring x then we will have the total
mechanical energy, shown in figure , as
K + U(x) = 1/2 m v2 + 1/2 Kx2 ..(6)
As the spring force is conservative, we have
0 + 1/2 KX2
= 1/2 m vo2 + 0
= (1/2) m v2 + (1/2) Kx2


Thus under conservative force there is mutual exchange between kinetic and potential energy.

Power is defined as the rate of work done.

i.e. P = dW/dt ..(1)
dW = F-> . dx->
then P = dW/dt = F-> . dx->/dt
P = F-> . v->
If the force is variable, we calculate the average power as

Power can also be expressed as the rate of change of kinetic energy. Let a body of mass m move
with a velocity v. The kinetic energy of the body is

K = 1/2 mv2
Now, dK/dt = 1/2 d/dt (mv2)
= mv . (dv/dt) = m (dv/dt) . v
= Fext . v
Therefore, P = (dK/dt)
Problems Related to Power

Illustration : A particle is projected with a speed v at an angle with the horizontal. Find the
mean power delivered by gravity during the ascent of the particle.
Solution : The magnitude of mean power for

where vy = (vy gt)

( numerically) ; to = vy/g

Exercise : Two bodies of masses m1 and m2 (m2 > m1) are connected by a light inextensible
string which passes through a smooth fixed pulley. What is the instantaneous power delivered by
an external agent to pull m1 with constant (a) velocity v-> (b) acceleration a-> at any instant t

Exercise : A small body of mass m is located on a horizontal plane at the point O. The body
acquires a horizontal velocity vo . Find the mean power developed by the friction force during the
motion, if the coefficient of friction = 0.27, m = 1.0 kg and vo = 1.5 m/s