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Humberto Gilmer

PHYS 1251 (Lisa 12:40p/1:50p): Midterm 1 Review Sheet

The overarching concept behind the material for midterm 1 is electrostatics: how do stationary electric charges affect each other and what sorts of fields and potentials do they generate.

Electrostatic forces

We start with the Coulomb force law between two point charges q 1 and q 2 separated by a distance r:

F

= kq 1 q 2

2

r

rˆ

Unfortunately, there isn’t a good way to generate the curly r we used in class, so a plain r will have to do. But, remember that r is the vector of separation between the two charges and that the electric force points along the line separating the charges. If we relegate q 2 to a small charge that is meant purely for measuring the strength of the field generated by q 1 (also known as a ‘test charge’), we can write the Coulomb force as

F

= q E

where

E

= kq 1

r 2

rˆ

Now that’s all well and good if q is a small charge, but what if it’s an extended object (like a rod or a sphere)? In that case, let dq represent a small ‘chunk’ of charge in the extended object; then the force on that small chunk is simply

d F = Edq

Note that

total force, integrate both sides of the above expression over the entire object subject to the electric field

E could be some complicated function that would be supplied as part of the problem. To find the

E:

F = Edq

Great, now if we have the electric field, we can find an electrostatic force! But how do we actually find E? There are two ways to do that: the brute force method using integrals and the symmetry method using the Gauss law.

Electric fields

As we saw in the previous section, computing the electric field is necessary if we want to know anything about forces exerted on charges. We saw the electric field due to a simple point charge is just

E

= kq

2

r

rˆ

where r is the distance between the charge and the point where you want to evaluate the field. The electric field is linear, meaning that if you have two electric fields, you can add them directly with nothing fancier needed; therefore if you have n point charges, the electric field is just

E tot = kq 1

r 2

1

rˆ 1 + kq 2 rˆ 2 + ··· + kq n rˆ n =

r

2

2

r

2

n

i

kq i

r

2

i

rˆ i

Note that the r i are not the same! Since each charge q i is presumably at a different point in space, the distance between where you want to evaluate the field and each charge will be different, so be careful! Now, as before, this is all well and good if the charges are nice and point-y, but what if they’re smeared out over some extended object (again, like a rod or sphere)? Well, as with the forces, we have to integrate. Let dq by a small ‘chunk’ of charge in the extended object (and by small, I mean I can basically treat it like a point charge); then the electric field of that small chunk is just given by the Coulomb law and the total electric field can be found by integrating:

d E

= k(dq)

r 2

rˆ

E

= k

dq rˆ

r 2

Humberto Gilmer

PHYS 1251 (Lisa 12:40p/1:50p): Midterm 1 Review Sheet

So just how do we do this integral? For one, we need to find r and rˆ as well as dq. Let’s deal with r and rˆ first. Here are the steps to finding r and rˆ:

1. Choose an origin. There are many choices, but generally one will make your life much simpler (like the center of a sphere or along the axis of symmetry of a ring)

2. Let r 1 be the distance from the origin to the point where you’re evaluating the electric field

3. Let r 2 be the distance from the origin to the chunk of charge dq

4. Compute r = r 1

r

2

5. The distance r that goes in the denominator of the integral can be found by computing the magnitude of r

6. Lastly, find rˆ by dividing r by r so that rˆ = r

r

Now let’s deal with that pesky dq.

Charge distributions

Finding dq requires using a charge distribution. There are three types of charge distributions, depending on what kind of extended object you’re dealing with

linear or 1D object

dq = λdl

surface or 2D object

dq = σdA

volume or 3D object

dq = ρdV

Now dl, dA and dV are simply placeholders. It’s up to you to replace them with a differential you can actually integrate over. Some examples are below

dl = dx (for a rod)

dl = Rdθ (for a circular object of radius R)

dA = dxdy (for a square plate)

dV = dxdydy (for a cube)

dA = rdrdθ (for a circular plate)

dV = r 2 sin θdrdθdφ (for a sphere)

Challenge yourself: can you find dA for a spherical shell or dV for a cylinder? In general, λ, σ and ρ are not constant!. If they are, then you can write

Q = λL

Q = σA

Q = ρV

which may be inverted to give

σ = Q A

Again, this is only true if the object is uniformly charged!. Alright, now that we have all the pieces, we can actually compute the integral!

λ = Q

L

ρ = Q

V

The Gauss Law

Of course, brute-force integrating isn’t the only way to find the electric field; in fact, in some cases, it may be actually impossible to do the integrals in question. Is there a better way? The answer is yes, based on the Gauss law. The Gauss law is

E · d A

= Q enc

0

Humberto Gilmer

PHYS 1251 (Lisa 12:40p/1:50p): Midterm 1 Review Sheet

Let’s remember what this actually means. On the left side, the integral is known as the electric flux. Recall that d A is a small vector perpendicular to some closed surface (also known as a ‘gaussian surface’) that points outward; therefore the dot product measures how much the electric field is perpendicular to the surface:

If E · d A = 0, that means that E is perpendicular to d A and is thus parallel to the surface of the object.

If E · d A = EdA that means that E is parallel to d A and thus perpendicular to the surface.

Integrating this dot product over the whole surface gives us how much the electric field points out or in (or doesn’t point at all) to a given surface. Therefore, all the Gauss law is telling us is that the total flux through a closed surface is proportional to the charge (which is responsible for creating or absorbing the electric field lines). So how do we use this to find the electric field? The method using the Gauss law only really works if:

The system lends itself to being enclosed by a simple gaussian surface (e.g. a box, a sphere or a cylinder)

d A so that E · d A = EdA

E

is constant on the Gaussian surface so that EdA = E dA = EA

E

Electric potential

Remember in 1250, we had two treatments of problems; one using forces and one using energy conservation. Recall the work-energy principle and plug in the electric force:

U =

a

b

F

· d l =

a

b

q E · d l = q

a

b

E · d l

This allows us to define a new quantity known as the electric potential difference

V =

a

b

E · d l

This goes the other direction. Given a potential V , the electric field is given by the derivative

E x = dV

dx

The potential energy ∆U of a charge q due to an external potential difference ∆V

U = qV

It is also possible to define a potential function (sort of like the gravitational potential U = mgh). We do this by choosing a point where V = 0 (this is usually at infinity) and integrating from there to the point where we’d like to evaluate the potential:

r

V (r) =

E(r )dr

For example, for a point charge with electric field E

=

kq

r 2

rˆ, the potential is

r

V (r) =

kq

r 2

r

dr = kq

dr

r 2

= kq 1

r

r

= kq

r

Humberto Gilmer

PHYS 1251 (Lisa 12:40p/1:50p): Midterm 1 Review Sheet

In general, for extended objects, the potential with respect to V = 0 at infinity can be found by brute-force integrating (just like electric fields):

V (r) =

kdq

r

where r is, as before, the separation between the ‘chunk’ of charge dq and the location where you want to evaluate the potential.

Conductors

Conductors have several nice properties that are worth calling out specifically. Because their charges are free, electric fields have to behave very carefully around them to avoid making the charges move.

Electric field are always perpendicular to the surface of the conductor

There is no electric field inside the body of the conductor

There is no free charge inside a conductor; it is all on the surface(s)

Conductors are equipotentials - every point in and on a conductor are at the same value of V

Capacitors

The key equation for capacitance is

Q = CV

where Q is the net charge on each plate of the capacitor, C is the capacitance and ∆V is the voltage drop across the capacitor. We’ll typically only deal with parallel plate capacitors, the capacitance of which is given by

C

= 0 A

d

Regardless of the type of capacitor, there is potential energy stored in the separated charges. The relations are

1 Q 2 1 ∆U = 2 C (∆V ) 2 = 1 = 2
1
Q 2
1
∆U =
2 C (∆V ) 2 = 1
=
2 Q∆V
2
C
Capacitors may be hooked up in a circuit with other capacitors. Recall that, in parallel, capacitors must have the
same voltage drop across them; meanwhile, in series, capacitors must have the same total charge. The voltage,
capacitance and charge rules are
n
Parallel:
∆V i = ∆V j
C eq = C 1 + C 2 + ··· + C n =
= Q j
C i
Q i
i=1
n
1 1
1
1
1
Series:
∆V i = ∆V j
=
+
+ ··· +
=
Q i = Q j
C eq
C 1
C 2
C n
C i
i=1