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Ph501

Electrodynamics

Problem Set 2

Kirk T. McDonald

(1998)

kirkmcd@princeton.edu

http://puhep1.princeton.edu/~mcdonald/examples/

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 1 1

1

U= E D dVol, (1)

8

by considering the model of atoms as springs (Problem 8b, set 1). The energy U then

has two parts:

1

U1 = E2 dVol, (2)

8

stored in the electric eld, and

kx2

U2 = n dVol, (3)

2

stored in the spring-like atoms (n is the number of atoms per unit volume). Assume n

is small so that the dielectric constant is nearly 1.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 2 2

1 Ej

Uquad = Qij , (4)

6 xi

in terms of its quadrupole tensor Qij , can be rewritten as

Qxx Ex

Uquad = , (5)

4 x

if the quadrupole is rotationally symmetric about the x axis. Give an expression

for the force F on the quadrupole.

(b) A rotationally symmetric quadrupole of strength Qxx (zero net charge, zero dipole

moment) is located at distance r from a point charge q. What is the force on the

quadrupole if:

i. The x axis is along the line joining Qxx and q?

ii. The x axis is perpendicular to the line joining Qxx and q?

For your own edication, conrm your answer by considering the simple quadrupole:

t y t

q1 2q1 q1

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 3 3

conducting plane that supports a uniform electric eld of strength E0, then the charge

gains energy eE0 d as it moves distance d from the plane. Where does this energy come

from?

Show that the mechanical energy gain of the electron is balanced by the decrease in

the electrostatic eld energy of the system.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 4 4

4. (a) Two point dipoles of strength p are aligned along their line of centers, and distance

2d apart. Calculate the force between the dipoles via F = (p )E, and by means

of the Maxwell stress tensor.

(b) A spherical conducting shell of radius a carries charge q. It is in a region of zero

external eld. Calculate the force between two hemispheres in two dierent ways.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 5 5

5. (a) Two coaxial pipes of radii a and b (a < b) are lowered vertically into an oil bath:

If a voltage V is applied between the pipes, show that the oil rises to height

( 1)V 2

h= , (6)

4g ln b

a

(b2 a2)

(b) Recalling prob. 1(c) of set 1, discuss qualitatively how the force arises the pulls

the liquid up into the capacitor.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 6 6

can be deduced from a knowledge of the charge density (x) inside that volume plus

knowledge of the potential and the normal derivative /n of the potential on the

surface S that bounds the volume,

(x) 1 1 1 (x)

(x) = dVol +

(x ) dS , (7)

V R 4 S n R R n

where R = |x x | is the distance between the point of observation and the element

of the integrand. However, further insights of Green indicate that it suces to specify

only one of or /n on the bounding surface to determine the potential within. As

a particular example, show that the potential within a charge-free sphere of radius a,

centered on the origin, can be determined from knowledge of only the potential on

its surface according to (Poisson, 1820)

a 2 x2 (x)

(x) = dS . (8)

4a S R3

Green (1828) gave a derivation of Poissons integral (8) that can be generalized to

many other problems in electrostatics. Recall that a key step towards eq. (7) is the

identity

( ) dVol = (2 2 ) dVol

V V

= ( ) dS = dS. (9)

S S n n

For problems in which the interior of volume V is charge free the potential obeys

2 = 0 there. To have a nonzero potential inside V there must, of course, be

charges on the surface of or exterior to volume V . If function also obeys 2 = 0

inside V (and so might be the potential for some other distribution of charges exterior

to V ), then the identity (9) reduces to

0= dS. (10)

S n n

Hence, we could combine eqs. (7) and (10) to yield the relation

1 1 1 (x )

(x) = (x) + + dS

4 S n R R n

1 G(x, x ) (x )

= (x )

G(x, x )

dS , (11)

4 S n n

where

1

G(x, x) = + . (12)

R

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 6 7

IF the Greens function G(x, x) vanishes on the surface S, then we have the desirable

relation between the potential in the interior of V and its value on the bounding

surface S,

1 G(x, x)

(x) = (x) dS . (13)

4 S n

Green noted that the auxiliary potential can be thought of as due to exterior charges

that bring the surface S to zero potential when there is unit charge at position x inside

volume V , and G as the total potential of that charge conguration. Further, we may

think of the bounding surface S as being a grounded conductor for the purposes of

determining the potentials and G, in which case the exterior charges reside on

the surface S. Hence, it is plausible that these exist for interesting physical surfaces S

(although it turns out that mathematicians have constructed examples of surfaces for

which a Greens function does not exist).

Since the function G is the potential for a speciable charge conguration, the normal

derivative G/n corresponds to the electric eld (whose only nonzero component

is En ) at the surface S produced by those charges. If we consider surface S to be

a grounded conductor when determining function G, then the charge density G at

position x on that surface, caused by the hypothetical unit charge at x, would be

G (x, x) = En /4 = (1/4)G/n. Green emphasized this phyisical interpretation

in his original work, and wrote eq. (13) as

(x) = G (x, x)(x) dS . (14)

S

Turning at last to Poissons integral (8), we see that the needed Greens function for

a sphere corresponds to the potential at x due to unit charge at x in the presence of

a grounded conducting sphere of radius a. Use the method of images to construct the

Greens function and its normal derivative, and thereby verify Poissons result.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 7 8

constant potential dierence V0 . A slab of dielectric constant is inserted between the

plates, completely lling the space between them.

(a) Show that the battery does work Q0V0 ( 1) during the insertion process, if Q0

is the charge on the plates before the slab is inserted.

(b) What is the change in the electrostatic energy of the capacitor?

(c) How much work is done by the mechanical forces on the slab when it is inserted?

Is this work done by, or on, the agent inserting the slab?

Suppose the battery was disconnected before the dielectric was inserted.

(d) Repeat (b).

(e) Repeat (c).

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 8 9

A above a grounded conducting plate.

(b) Point electric dipoles p1 and p2 lie in the same plane at a xed distance apart. If

p1 makes angle 1 to their line of centers, show that the equilibrium angle 2 of

p2 is related to 1 by

tan 1 = 2 tan 2 . (15)

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 9 10

9. We may dene the capacity of a single conductor with respect to innity as C = Q/V ,

where V is the potential (with respect to potential = 0 at ) when charge Q is

present on the conductor.

Calculate the capacity of a conductor composed of two tangent spheres of radius a.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 10 11

10. A grounded conducting sphere of radius a is placed in a uniform external eld E = E0z.

(This eld changes after the sphere is added.)

This problem may be solved by the method of images if we suppose the eld E0 is due

to two charges Q at positions z = R, with Q and R appropriately large.

(a) Show that the image of the source of E0 is then a dipole p = a3E0 located at the

center of the sphere.

(b) Give an expression for the potential (r, ) in spherical coordinates (r, , ) cen-

tered on the sphere. Sketch the electric eld lines.

3

(c) Show that the induced charge distribution on the sphere is = E

4 0

cos .

(d) Show that the force between the two hemispheres with equator perpendicular to

9 2

E0 is F = 16 a E0 .

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 11 12

11. A hollow innite rectangular conducting tube of sides a and b has two faces grounded

and two faces at potentials V1 and V2 as shown:

y

=0

= V1 = V2

=0

a x

Find the potential (x, y) inside the tube. Remember to use a sum of products of all

solutions to the separated equations which do not violate the boundary conditions.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Problem 12 13

12. A hollow rectangular conducting box has walls at x = 0 and a, at y = 0 and b, and at

z = 0 and c. All faces are grounded except that at z = c, for which = V :

z

= V

=0

=0 =0

c =0

y

=0

b

a

x

(Choose the signs of the separation constants carefully!)

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 1 14

Solutions

1. The energy stored in a dielectric composed of spring like atoms can be written in two

parts,

1 2 kx2

U = U1 + U2 = E dVol + n dVol, (16)

8 2

where E is the applied electric eld, and where n is the number of molecules per unit

volume.

The displacement x in the spring-like atom is related by kx = eEon atom, where e is the

charge of an electron. Then,

e2Eon

2

atom 1 e2Eon

2

atom 1 2

U2 = n dVol = n 2

dVol = nEon atom dVol, (17)

2k 2 m 2

where = k/m is the frequency of oscillation of the electron of mass m, and =

e2/m 2 is the atomic polarizability introduced in eq. (69) of set 1.

On p. 20 of the Notes, we argued that Eon atom = E + 4P/3, in terms of the applied

eld E and the induced polarization P. But, P = nEon atom, so

n n

P= E, and Eon atom = E 1 + E, (18)

1 4n/3 1 4n/3

1

U2 4nE 2 dVol, (19)

8

and

1 1 1

U (1 + 4n)E 2 dVol E 2 dVol = E D dVol, (20)

8 8 8

using the Lorenz-Lorentz approximation for the dielectric constant in terms of the

polarizability , and supposing that D = E.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 2 15

about the x axis implies that its quadrupole tenson Qij can be written

Qxx 0 0

Qij =

0 Qxx/2 0 ,

(21)

0 0 Qxx/2

U = =

E = ,

6 x 2 y 2 z 2 x 26 4 x

(22)

using E = 0, assuming that the external eld is produced by charges not at

the location of the quadrupole.

The force on the quadrupole is:

F = U = , , . (23)

4 x2 xy xz

(b) i. Consider a point charge q at at the origin and the quadrupole at (x, y, z) =

(R, 0, 0). The x-component of the electric eld from q observed at (x, y, z) is

qx

Ex = , where r 2 = x2 + y 2 + z 2 . (24)

r3

Then,

Ex r2 3x2

=q , (25)

x r5

and the force is evaluated from (23) at (R, 0, 0) as

3 qQxx

F= , 0, 0 . (26)

2 R4

Let us check this for the simple quadrupole shown in the picture.

t y t

q1 2q1 q1

Suppose the distance between q1 and 2q1 is a. The force on the quadrupole

due to charge q at distance R from the center of the quadrupole, and along

the latters axis, is

q1 q 2q1q q1 q 6a2q1 q

Fx = + = (1 + O(a/R)). (27)

(R a)2 R2 (R + a)2 R4

This agrees with (26), since

Qij = (3ri rj r2 ij ) dVol Qxx = 2q r 2 = 4q1a2 . (28)

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 2 16

ii. If, instead, the quadrupole is at (0, R, 0) (but still oriented parallel to the x

axis), eqs. (23) and (25) combine to reveal that only the derivative 2Ex /xy

is nonvanishing, and

3qQxx

F = 0, ,0 . (29)

4R4

Again, we can directly compute the force on the simple quadrupole:

Fy = 2 2

2 = , (30)

R (R + a2 )3/2 R4 4R4

using (28).

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 3 17

3. Once the charge has reached distance d from the plane, the static electric eld Ee at

an arbitrary point r due to the charge can be calculated by summing the eld of the

charge plus its image charge,

er1 er2

Ee (r, d) = 3 3 , (31)

r1 r2

where r1 (r2) points from the charge (image) to the observation point r, as illustrated

below. The total electric eld is then E0z + Ee .

The charge e and its image charge e at positions (r, , z) = (0, 0, d) with

respect to a conducting plane at z = 0. Vectors r1 and r2 are directed from

the charges to the observation point (r, 0, z).

It turns out to be convenient to use a cylindrical coordinate system, where the obser-

vation point is r = (r, , z) = (r, 0, z), and the charge is at (0, 0, d). Then,

2

r1,2 = r2 + (z d)2 . (32)

The part of the electrostatic eld energy that varies with the position of the charge is

the interaction term,

E0 z Ee

Uint = dVol

4

eE0 zd z+d

= dz dr 2

4 0 0 [r2 + (z d)2 ]3/2 [r2 + (z + d)2 ]3/2

eE0

2 if z > d

= dz 2

4

0 2 if z < d

d

= eE0 dz = eE0d. (33)

0

When the particle has traversed a potential dierence V = E0 d, it has gained energy

eV and the electromagnetic eld has lost the same energy.

In a practical electrostatic accelerator, the particle is freed from an electrode at

potential V and emerges with energy eV in a region of zero potential. However, the

particle could not be moved to the negative electrode from a region of zero potential

by purely electrostatic forces unless the particle lost energy eV in the process, leading

to zero overall energy change. An electrostatic accelerator must have an essential

component (such as a battery) that provides a nonelectrostatic force that can absorb

the energy extracted from the electrostatic eld while moving the charge from potential

zero, so as to put the charge at rest at potential V prior to acceleration.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 4 18

4. (a) First, we calculate the force directly. The electric eld from one of the dipoles,

taken to be at the origin and with moment p = px, is

3(p r)r p 3pxr px

E= = 3. (34)

r3 r4 r

For a second dipole at (x, y, z) = (2d, 0, 0), also with moment p = px, we have

E 3p2

F = (p )E = p = 4 x. (35)

x (2d,0,0) 8d

As an aside, we can also calculate F = U, where U is the energy of interaction

of the two dipoles. First, the energy of a charge q2 at position r2 in the eld of a

dipole p1 at position r1 is

p1 r

U = q2 3 , (36)

r

where r = |r| = |r2 r1|, as on p. 12 of the Notes. A point dipole p2 is the limit

of a pair of charges q2 at positions r2 and r2 s where s = sp2 , and the product

q2s is held constant at value p2 . Thus, the interaction energy of two point dipoles

is obtained from (36) as

p1 r p1 r p1 r

U= lim q2 3 = (p2 2 ) , (37)

s0, q2 s=p r3 r r3

reduces to

2 1

U=p . (38)

x x=2d x2

Then, the force F = U is along x with magnitude

2 1 3p2

F = p 2

= , (39)

x2 x2 x=2d 8d4

as found in (35).

Now, let us calculate the force via the Maxwell stress tensor. The force on the

charges within a (closed) surface S is given by

Fi = Tij dSj , (40)

S

1 1

Tij = Ei Ej ij E 2 . (41)

4 2

In the problem with two dipoles, it is convenient to choose the surface as the

midplane perpendicular to the line connecting two dipoles (the x axis), closing

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 4 19

the surface at innity around one of the dipoles. On this plane (x = d) the only

nonzero component of E is Ex , and this is twice Ex from the dipole at x = 0. At

radius r from (d, 0, 0) in the symmetry plane, the total eld is then

3d2 1 2d2 r2

Ex (r) = 2p 2 2 5/2

2 = 2p . (42)

[r + d ] [r + d2 ]3/2 [r2 + d2 ]5/2

The Maxwell stress tensor is thus,

Ex2 0 0

1

Tij =

0 Ex2 0 .

(43)

8

0 0 Ex2

We take our surface element to be dS = (2rdr, 0, 0) in cylindrical coordinates,

the sign of which implies that the surface S encloses the dipole at x = 0. Then,

(40) and (43) indicate that only Fx is nonzero, and it is given by

1 2 2

(r2 2d2 )2

Fx = r drEx = p r dr 2

4 0 0 (r + d2 )5

p2 (t 2d2 )2 p2 [(t + d2 ) 3d2 ]2

= dt = dt (44)

2 0 (t + d2 )5 2 0 (t + d2 )5

p2 1 6d2 9d4

= dt +

2 0 (t + d2 )3 (t + d2 )4 (t + d2 )5

p2 1 2 9 3p2

= + = .

2 2d4 d4 4d4 8d4

This agrees with (35), noting that since the dipoles attract, the force on the dipole

at x = 0 is in the +x direction.

(b) The electric eld outside the conducting sphere of radius a is E = qr/r2 . The

pressure (= force per unit area) on the surface charges is P = E/2, where is

the surface charge density; hence, P = q 2r/8a4 . (The coecient 1/2 is needed

because E is the eld outside the surface, while the eld inside the sphere is zero,

thus the average eld inside the charge layer is E/2.) To nd the force between

two hemispheres, we integrate the component of pressure normal to the equatorial

plane (P cos ) over one hemisphere:

1

q 2 cos q2

F = 2a2 d cos = . (45)

0 8a4 8a2

Now, let us calculate the force using the Maxwell stress tensor. We integrate

Fz over the x-y plane separating our sphere into two hemispheres. Since dS =

(0, 0, 2r dr) there, and the only nonzero components of E on that surface are

Ex and Ey , only Tzz = E 2/8 = q 2/8r4 contributes to the force. Integrating

from r = a to , we nd

q2 dr q2

Fz = 2r drTzz = = , (46)

a 4 a r3 8a2

in agreement with (45).

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 5 20

5. (a) The electrical force F required to pull oil of density into a cylindrical capacitor

of inner and outer radii a and b, respectively, to height h above the bath is equal

to the force of gravity:

F = gh(b2 a2). (47)

A second relation for F can be computed from the balance of electrical energy,

noting that the capacitor is held at constant voltage by a battery. Suppose we

increase the height of the oil by h. Then, work F h is done on the oil, the energy

U = CV 2 /2 stored in the capacitor changes by U, and the battery loses energy

V Q. Conservation of energy implies

0 = F h + U V Q. (48)

2CV 2

V Q = V C = 2 = 2U. (49)

2

U

F =+ . (50)

h V

As the liquid is drawn into the capacitor, the energy for this must come from

elsewhere; yet, the energy of the capacitor increases because the battery loses

energy in twice the amount of work done on the liquid.

We now calculate the stored energy U by integrating the electric eld energy

density. By cylindrical symmetry and Gausss law, the electric eld between the

pipes has form Er (r) = /r, where is xed by

b

b V

V = Er dr = ln , or = . (51)

a a ln ab

Suppose the total height of the capacitor (above the bath) is H. Then, the energy

of the electric eld in the capacitor is:

b b

1 1

U= h 2

E 2r dr + (H h) E 22r dr, (52)

8 a 8 a

where the rst term on the right is the contribution from the space lled with the

oil whose dielectric constant is , while the second term is from the empty space

above. Evaluating the integrals:

b b

V2 dr V2

2 E 2 r dr = 2 = 2 b , (53)

a ln2 ab a r ln a

we then nd:

1 V2

U= [( 1)h + H] . (54)

4 ln ab

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 5 21

U V 2 ( 1)

Fel = = . (55)

h V 4 ln ab

Equating this to the force of gravity, (47) we obtain the height h of the oil column:

( 1)V 2

h= . (56)

4g ln b

a

(b2 a2)

(b) The force on the liquid arises from the eect of gradients of the electric eld on

the molecular dipoles in the liquid. The spatially varying electric eld E results

in a bulk dielectric polarization given by

1

P = E = E, (57)

4

where is the dielectric susceptibility and is the dielectric constant. The energy

density associated with the induced polarization is

1 2

u = P E = E , (58)

4

and so the force density on the liquid is given by

1

f = u = E 2. (59)

4

The gradient E 2 in the fringe eld of the capacitor points from the outside to

the interior of the capacitor, with a generally vertical component for the liquid

below the capacitor in the present problem.

It is interesting to consider a variant on this problem: a capacitor with horizontal

plates completely immersed in a dielectric liquid. Here, the fringe elds of the

capacitor pull the liquid in from all sides, trapping it inside the capacitor. That

is, work would be required to pull the liquid out of the capacitor in any direction.

Is this an example of electrostatic trapping which is claimed not to exist? No!

The trapping in the direction perpendicular to the capacitor plates is not pro-

vided by purely electrostratic elds, but by the material of the capacitor plates

(whose stability is not a result of purely electrostatic eects). See prob. 7 of set

4 for further discussion.

We have concluded that the liquid is drawn into the interior of the capacitor and

that the liquid near the middle of the capacitor is forced up against the capacitor

plates by electrostatic forces on the induced dipoles. If we drill a hole in the

center of one capacitor plate, would liquid squirt out? (If yes, we would have a

perpetual motion machine.) No, the fringe elds around the hole will pull liquid

into the interior of the capacitor creating a static equilibrium much as before.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 6 22

6. We work from eq. (13), for which we rst need the potential at a point r inside a

grounded conducting sphere of radius a when unit charge is located at x, also inside

the sphere. Then we need the normal derivative of this potential on the inner surface

of the sphere, i.e.when |r| = r = a.

The image method for a grounded conducting sphere tells us that the potential inside

the sphere can be calculated as that due to unit charge at x together with charge a/x

at position x = a2x/x2 . We denote the angle between vectors r and x as , so that

R = |r x| = r2 + 2rx cos + x2 , (60)

and

a2 a4

R = |r x | = r2 + 2r cos + 2 . (61)

x x

We see that when r = a, then

a

R = R. (62)

x

The potential inside the sphere can now be written

1 a

(r) = , (63)

R Rx

The normal derivative of the potential on the inner surface of the sphere is the negative

of its radial derivative when r = a,

= = = , (64)

n r R3 R 3 x aR3

using eq. (62). Inserting this in eq. (13), we obtain Poissons integral,

a 2 x2 (x)

(x) = dS . (65)

4a S R3

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 7 23

dielectric constant is

A Q

C= . (66)

d V

Adding the dielectric increased the capacitance to

Cf = C0, (67)

and hence the charge also increase, if the voltage is kept xed. Thus, the work

done by the battery as the dielectric is inserted,

is positive.

(b) As the dielectric is inserted, the eld energy U = CV 2 /2 stored in the capacitor

changes by

1 1 1

U = CV02 = C0 V02 ( 1) = Q0V0 ( 1). (69)

2 2 2

(c) The work done by the battery, (68), is only partly accounted for in increase in

the eld energy, (69). The rest of the work done by the battery is done on the

external agent that held the dielectric during insertion (the external agent gained

energy):

1

Won agent = Q0V0 ( 1). (70)

2

(d) If the battery had been disconnected before the dielectric was inserted, then the

charge Q0 would be constant. From (66) we see that the nal voltage would be

only V0 /. Recalling (67), the change in the electrostatic eld energy would then

be 2

1 V0 1 1 1

U = C0 C0 V0 = Q0V0

2

1 < 0. (71)

2 2 2

(e) By conservation of energy, the work done on the external agent that held the

dielectric during insertion is equal and opposite to the change in stored energy.

Hence the work done on the agent is again positive, but now with the value

1 1

Won agent = Q0V0 . (72)

2

That is, the dielectric is pulled into the capacitor whether or not the battery is

still connected.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 8 24

8. (a) The eld energy associated with an electron at distance r from a grounded con-

ducting plane is 1/2 that associated with the corresponding image charge, i.e.,

with that electron plus a positron at distance r, in the absence of the conducting

plane. Hence,

1 e2 e2

U = = . (73)

2 2r 4r

The elds in the image solution have reality only outside the conducting plane;

there is no energy associated with the ctitious image elds inside the conduc-

tor.

Equation (73) indicates that an electron is bound to the conducting plane, and

so to escape, must have a minimum velocity related by

2|U| e2 e 2 c2 re

vmin = = = 2

=c , (74)

m 2mr 2mc r 2r

where re = e2/mc2 = 2.8 1013 cm is the classical electron radius. Thus, for

r=1

A,

vmin 2.8 1013

= = 0.0037. (75)

c 2 108

(Notice that the nonrelativistic approximation suces.)

The binding energy can be estimated from (73) as

e2 re mc2 2.8 1013 5.11 105 eV

U = mc 2

= = = 3.6 eV. (76)

4mc2 r r 4 108 4

(b) In equilibrium, the torque on dipole p2 must vanish, and so p2 will be directed

along the electric eld created by dipole p1 . The electric eld of the latter is given

by

3(p1 r)r p1

E= . (77)

r3

The projection of E onto the line connecting two dipoles is

p1

E = E r = 2 3 cos 1 . (78)

r

The orthogonal projection is

E = E E , (79)

leading to

p1

E = sin 1 , (80)

r3

where the minus sign indicates that E is directed opposite to p1, .

The angle of the eld line, and hence of p2 is

E 1

tan 2 = = tan 1 . (81)

E 2

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 9 25

9. We solve the problem of the capacity of two tangent, conducting spheres of radii a by

the method of images.

We rst nd the image-charge distribution needed to bring one sphere to potential V ,

but leaving the other at zero potential. Then, we complete the solution by superposing

the mirror distribution, obtained by reection symmetry about the plane through the

point of tangency of the two spheres.

(a) Place charge q = aV at the center of sphere 1, bringing its surface to otential V .

(b) To bring sphere 2 to zero potential, place charge q(a/2a) = q/2 at distance

a2/2a = a/2 from the center of sphere 2, following the prescription on p. 41 of

the Notes.

(c) The image charge (b) takes sphere 1 away from potential V . To bring it back, add

an image charge (c) inside sphere 1 so that this sphere is at zero potential under

the eect of charges (b) and (c). That is, add charge (q/2)(a/(3a/2)) = +q/3

at distance a2/(3a/2) = 2a/3 from the center of sphere 1, i.e., a/3 from the point

of contact.

(d) Add charge q/4 at 3a/4 from the center of sphere 2 to bring it back to zero

potential.

(e) ....

q q

The total charge needed to bring both spheres to potential V is double that described

in the sequence above. Hence,

1 1 1

Q = 2q 1 + + ... = 2aV ln 2, (82)

2 3 4

and the capacitance is

C = Q/V = 2a ln 2 = 1.386a. (83)

Note that since the dimensions of potential are [charge]/[length], capacitance has the

dimension of [length] in Gaussian units. Thus, we expect that C a for this problem,

since a is the only relevant length.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 10 26

z = R, where Q and R in such a way as to keep Q/R2 constant.

In the limit, the eld in the region of the sphere is homogeneous and equal to

E = (2Q/R2 )z. According to the image method, we can make the potential

on the sphere vanish by adding charge q = Qa/R at z = a2/R and q at

z = a2/R. Thus, the perturbation to the eld due to the sphere is eectively that

due to a dipole with the moment

a2 a

p=2 Q z = a3 E0. (84)

R R

E0a3 cos

= 0 + dipole = E0r cos + . (85)

r2

The eld lines bend in to be normal to the sphere at r = a:

(c) We nd the surface charge density from the normal component of the electric

eld at the surface of the sphere:

Er (a, ) = = 3E0 cos , (86)

r r=a

and so

Er (a, ) 3E0 cos

() = = . (87)

4 4

(d) The force acting on the surface charge density is F = Er (a)r/2 = Er2 (a)r/8

(where the latter form follows immediately from the Maxwell stress tensor). The

force on the right hemisphere is directed along z and is obtained by integrating

the z component of F:

1

1 9 2 2

Fz = 2a2 d cos (3E0 cos )2(cos ) = a E0 . (88)

8 0 16

Since the force on the hemisphere at z > 0 is positive, the hemispheres repel each

other.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 11 27

= X(x)Y (y). This leads to solutions of the form ekx eiky or eikx eky .

Since the boundary conditions include = 0 at y = 0 and b, it is advantageous to

consider functions Y of the type eiky , which can be immediately restricted to the

form:

Y (y) = sin ky, where k = n/b, n = 1, 2, . . . . (89)

This also xes the separation constants k.

The general expression for the potential is now:

ny

(x, y) = Xn (x)Yn (y) = An enx/b + Bn enx/b sin . (90)

n n b

ny

(0, y) = V1 = (An + Bn ) sin , (91)

n b

ny

(a, y) = V2 = An ena/b + Bn ena/b sin . (92)

n b

and integrate from y = 0 to b:

b b

ny bV1 ny

bV1 2, n odd b

(0, y) sin dy = cos = = (An + Bn ) , (93)

0 b n b 0

n 0, n even 2

and similarly,

bV2 2, n odd b

= An ena/b + Bn ena/b . (94)

n

0, n even 2

2 2

na/b

An = V2 V1 e , Bn = V1 e na/b

V2 . (95)

n sinh na

b

n sinh na

b

4 sin ny

b nx n(a x)

(x, y) = na V2 sinh + V1 sinh . (96)

n odd n sinh b b b

To verify that this solution satises the boundary conditions, note that (91) and (93)

combine to yield the expansion:

4 1 ny

1= sin . (97)

n odd n b

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 11 28

We also note that the potential is symmetric about the midplanes, (x, y) =

(a x, y) = (x, b y), which could have been invoked as far back as (90) to show

that only odd n contributes.

Remark: This problem could also usefully be solved as the superposition of two cases,

each with three walls at potential zero and the fourth at a nonzero value. The form of

the solution (96) displays this superposition.

Princeton University 1998 Ph501 Set 2, Solution 12 29

12. Since = 0 at x = 0, a and y = 0, b, solutions = X(x)Y (y)Z(z) must have the form

mx ny

Xm (x) = sin , and Yn (y) = sin , (98)

a b

where n and m are positive integers (and odd, recalling the remark at the end of

problem 9). The functions Z(z) then have the form ekz . Since = 0 at z = 0, we

can make the further restriction:

where kmn is determined by inserting the trial solutions into Laplaces equation, yield-

ing

2 m 2 n 2

kmn = + . (100)

a b

The general solution satisfying all the boundary conditions except for the one at the

face z = c is:

2 2

mx ny m n

(x, y, z) = Amn sin sin sinh + z. (101)

m,n a b a b

2 2

mx ny m n

V = Amn sin sin sinh + c. (102)

m,n a b a b

a

sin ny

b

and integrate from 0 to a in x and from

0 to b in y. Similarly to (93), we nd

16V

Amn = 2 2 , (103)

m n

mn2 sinh a

+ b

c

2 2

m n

16V 1 mx 1 ny sinh a

+ b

z

(x, y, z) = sin sin 2 2 . (104)

2 m,n odd m a n b m n

sinh a

+ b

c

4 mx 4 ny

1= sin sin for 0 < x < a, 0 < y < b. (105)

m m a n n b

Since this follows from (97), we could have used it to go from (102) to (103) without

performing the integrations.

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