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Electric Fields

Electric Field:
A region around a charge in which
another charge feels a force.
Field Line:
These lines show the direction of the
force on a Positive charge.
Equipotential Lines:
These join up all points with the same
Equipotential Lines (parallel to plates)


Equipotential Lines
These diagrams just show more
versions of Electric Field Lines
and how charges affect them.
Millikan’s Oil Drop Experiment
By putting small charge drops of oil in an Electric Field and controlling their
movement by varying the Electric Field, Millikan was able to find that the charge on
each oil drop was a multiple of a much smaller charge. This turned out to be the
charge on the electron.
These diagrams give an idea of
how the Field and the Potential
around the charges work.
On the right is the example of
V stands for Potential
dV/dr represents the Potential
Gradient of the field
Electric Field Strength – E
Defined as the Force per Unit Charge
Units of NC-1

Electric Potential - V
Defined as the Potential Energy per unit charge.
Units of JC-1

Potential Energy of a Charge Ep

This is defined as the Work Done on the charge moving it from
Infinity (where the potential is zero)
Units of J

NB With Electric fields none of the definitions actually say ‘on a unit
charge’, they all say ‘per unit charge’ as an actual Coulomb of
charge would affect the original Electric Field.
Derivation of Electric Field Strength Equation

Imagine two parallel

plates as shown:
There are two good
ways to think about the
Energy/Work in this

1. As the charge (q) moves ‘down’ it 2. There is a Force (F) created

gains energy from the Potential by the Electric Field which
Difference. (ΔV) does work as the Particle
crosses the gap (Δx)

ΔE = qΔV ΔW = FΔx
ΔW = FΔx
FΔx = - qΔV
ΔE = qΔV

F = - ΔV Potential

Strength q Δx Gradient

This means that Electric Field Strength can be

measured with two units:

JC-1 and Vm-1