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Module 3: Sections 2.1 through 2.

8
Module 4: Sections 2.9 through 2.14
1
Table of Contents
2.1 Electric Charge......................................................................................................... 2-3
2.2 Coulomb's Law .................................................................................................... 2-3
2.2.1 Van de GraaII Generator (link)...................................................................... 2-4
2.3 Principle oI Superposition.................................................................................... 2-5
Example 2.1: Three Charges .................................................................................... 2-5
2.4 Electric Field........................................................................................................ 2-7
2.4.1 Electric Field oI Point Charges (link) ............................................................ 2-8
2.5 Electric Field Lines.............................................................................................. 2-9
2.6 Force on a Charged Particle in an Electric Field ............................................... 2-10
2.7 Electric Dipole ................................................................................................... 2-11
2.7.1 The Electric Field oI a Dipole...................................................................... 2-12
2.7.2 Electric Dipole Animation (link) ................................................................. 2-13
2.8 Dipole in Electric Field...................................................................................... 2-13
2.8.1 Potential Energy oI an Electric Dipole ........................................................ 2-14
2.9 Charge Density................................................................................................... 2-16
2.9.1 Volume Charge Density ............................................................................... 2-16
2.9.2 SurIace Charge Density ............................................................................... 2-17
2.9.3 Line Charge Density .................................................................................... 2-17
2.10 Electric Fields due to Continuous Charge Distributions.................................... 2-18
Example 2.2: Electric Field on the Axis oI a Rod ................................................. 2-18
Example 2.3: Electric Field on the Perpendicular Bisector (link) ......................... 2-19
Example 2.4: Electric Field on the Axis oI a Ring (link) ...................................... 2-21
Example 2.5: Electric Field Due to a UniIormly Charged Disk ............................ 2-23
2.11 Summary ............................................................................................................ 2-25
2.12 Problem-Solving Strategies ............................................................................... 2-27
2.13 Solved Problems ................................................................................................ 2-29
2.13.1 Hydrogen Atom ........................................................................................ 2-29
2.13.2 Millikan Oil-Drop Experiment ................................................................. 2-30
1
These notes are excerpted 'Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism by Sen-Ben Liao, Peter
Dourmashkin, and John Belcher, Copyright 2004, ISBN 0-536-81207-1.
2-1

2.13.3 Charge Moving Perpendicularly to an Electric Field ............................... 2-32
2.13.4 Electric Field oI a Dipole.......................................................................... 2-34
2.13.5 Electric Field oI an Arc............................................................................. 2-36
2.13.6 Electric Field OII the Axis oI a Finite Rod............................................... 2-37
2.14 Conceptual Questions ........................................................................................ 2-39
2-2
Coulomb`s Law
2.1 Electric Charge
There are two types oI observed electric charge, which we designate as positive and
negative. The convention was derived Irom Benjamin Franklin`s experiments. He rubbed
a glass rod with silk and called the charges on the glass rod positive. He rubbed sealing
wax with Iur and called the charge on the sealing wax negative. Like charges repel and
opposite charges attract each other. The unit oI charge is called the Coulomb (C).
The smallest unit oI 'Iree charge known in nature is the charge oI an electron or proton,
which has a magnitude oI
e = 1.60210
19
C (2.1.1)
Charge oI any ordinary matter is quantized in integral multiples oI e. An electron carries
one unit oI negative charge, e , while a proton carries one unit oI positive charge, +e . In
a closed system, the total amount oI charge is conserved since charge can neither be
created nor destroyed. A charge can, however, be transIerred Irom one body to another.
2.2 Coulomb's Law
Consider a system oI two point charges, q
1
and q
2
, separated by a distance r in vacuum.
The Iorce exerted by q
1
on q
2
is given by Coulomb's law:
1 2
` F

12
= k
e
q q
2
r (2.2.1)
r
where k
e
is the Coulomb constant, and ` =

/ r is a unit vector directed Irom q
1
to q
2
, r r
as illustrated in Figure 2.2.1(a).
(a)
(b)
Figure 2.2.1 Coulomb interaction between two charges
Note that electric Iorce is a vector which has both magnitude and direction. In SI units,
the Coulomb constant k
e
is given by
2-3
1
9 2 2
= = 8.987510 N m / C (2.2.2) k
e
4
0
where

0
=
1
9 2 2
= 8 85 . 10
12
C
2
N m
2
(2.2.3)
4 (8.99 10 N m C )
is known as the 'permittivity oI Iree space. Similarly, the Iorce on q
1
due to q
2
is given

by F
21
= F
12
, as illustrated in Figure 2.2.1(b). This is consistent with Newton's third law.
As an example, consider a hydrogen atom in which the proton (nucleus) and the electron
are separated by a distance r = 5.3 10
11
m . The electrostatic Iorce between the two
particles is approximately F = k e
2
/ r
2
= 8.2 10
8
N . On the other hand, one may show
e e
that the gravitational Iorce is only F
g
3.610
47
N . Thus, gravitational eIIect can be
neglected when dealing with electrostatic Iorces!
2.2.1 Van de Graaff Generator (link)
Consider Figure 2.2.2(a) below. The Iigure illustrates the repulsive Iorce transmitted
between two objects by their electric Iields. The system consists oI a charged metal
sphere oI a van de GraaII generator. This sphere is Iixed in space and is not Iree to move.
The other object is a small charged sphere that is Iree to move (we neglect the Iorce oI
gravity on this sphere). According to Coulomb`s law, these two like charges repel each
another. That is, the small sphere experiences a repulsive Iorce away Irom the van de
GraaII sphere.
Figure 2.2.2 (a) Two charges oI the same sign that repel one another because oI the
'stresses transmitted by electric Iields. We use both the 'grass seeds representation
and the Iield lines representation oI the electric Iield oI the two charges. (b) Two
charges oI opposite sign that attract one another because oI the stresses transmitted by
electric Iields.
The animation depicts the motion oI the small sphere and the electric Iields in this
situation. Note that to repeat the motion oI the small sphere in the animation, we have
2-4
the small sphere 'bounce oII oI a small square Iixed in space some distance Irom the
van de GraaII generator.
BeIore we discuss this animation, consider Figure 2.2.2(b), which shows one Irame oI a
movie oI the interaction oI two charges with opposite signs. Here the charge on the small
sphere is opposite to that on the van de GraaII sphere. By Coulomb`s law, the two objects
now attract one another, and the small sphere Ieels a Iorce attracting it toward the van de
GraaII. To repeat the motion oI the small sphere in the animation, we have that charge
'bounce oII oI a square Iixed in space near the van de GraaII.
The point oI these two animations (link) is to underscore the Iact that the Coulomb Iorce
between the two charges is not 'action at a distance. Rather, the stress is transmitted by
direct 'contact Irom the van de GraaII to the immediately surrounding space, via the
electric Iield oI the charge on the van de GraaII. That stress is then transmitted Irom one
element oI space to a neighboring element, in a continuous manner, until it is transmitted
to the region oI space contiguous to the small sphere, and thus ultimately to the small
sphere itselI. Although the two spheres are not in direct contact with one another, they
are in direct contact with a medium or mechanism that exists between them. The Iorce
between the small sphere and the van de GraaII is transmitted (at a Iinite speed) by
stresses induced in the intervening space by their presence.
Michael Faraday invented Iield theory; drawing 'lines oI Iorce or 'Iield lines was his
way oI representing the Iields. He also used his drawings oI the lines oI Iorce to gain
insight into the stresses that the Iields transmit. He was the Iirst to suggest that these
Iields, which exist continuously in the space between charged objects, transmit the
stresses that result in Iorces between the objects.
2.3 Principle of Superposition
Coulomb`s law applies to any pair oI point charges. When more than two charges are
present, the net Iorce on any one charge is simply the vector sum oI the Iorces exerted on
it by the other charges. For example, iI three charges are present, the resultant Iorce
experienced by q
3
due to q
1
and q
2
will be

F
3
= F
13
+ F
23
(2.3.1)
The superposition principle is illustrated in the example below.
Example 2.1: Three Charges
Three charges are arranged as shown in Figure 2.3.1. Find the Iorce on the charge q
3
assuming that q
1
= 6.010
6
C , q
2
= q
1
= 6.010
6
C , q
3
= +3.010
6
C and
a = 2.010
2
m .
2-5
Figure 2.3.1 A system oI three charges
Solution:
Using the superposition principle, the Iorce on q
3
is

1 j q q q q \
F = F + F =
1 3
r` +
2 3
r`
3 13 23
4
0
,
(
r
13
2 13
r
23
2 23 (
,
In this case the second term will have a negative coeIIicient, since q
2
is negative. The
unit vectors r`
13
and r`
23
do not point in the same directions. In order to compute this sum,
we can express each unit vector in terms oI its Cartesian components and add the Iorces
according to the principle oI vector addition.
From the Iigure, we see that the unit vector r`
13
which points Irom q
1
to q
3
can be written
as
r`
13
= cos
`
i + sin
`
j =
2
(
`
i +
`
j)
2
Similarly, the unit vector r`
23
=
`
i points Irom q
2
to q
3
. ThereIore, the total Iorce is
q q
\
F

3
=
1
,
j q q
1 3
2
r`
13
+
q q
2
2
3
r`
23 (
\
=
1
,
,
j
q q
1 3
2
2
(
` `
i + j) +
(
1
2
)
3
`
i
(
(
4
0 (
r
13
r
23 ,
4
0 (
( 2 ) 2 a a
,
1 3
=
1 q q
2
,
,
,
,
j
2
1
(
(
\
`
i +
2
`
j
]
]
4
0
a
,
(
4
,
4
]
]
upon adding the components. The magnitude oI the total Iorce is given by
2-6
1 q q
,
j
2
\
2
j
2
\
2
]
1 2
F
3
=
1 3
,
,
,
1
(
(
+
, (
, (
]
4
0
a
2
,

(
4
, (
4
,
]
]
9 2 2
(6.010
6
C)(3.010
6
C)
(9.010 N m / C ) (0.74) = 3.0 N =
(2.010
2
m)
2
The angle that the Iorce makes with the positive x -axis is
= tan
1
,
,
j F
3, y
(
(
\
= tan
1
,
,
2 / 4
]
]
=151.3
(
F
3, x
,
+ 1 2 / 4
]
Note there are two solutions to this equation. The second solution = 28.7 is incorrect
because it would indicate that the Iorce has positive
`
i and negative
`
j components.
For a system oI N charges, the net Iorce experienced by the jth particle would be

N

F
j
=

F
ij
(2.3.2)
i=1
i j

where F
ij
denotes the Iorce between particles i and j . The superposition principle
implies that the net Iorce between any two charges is independent oI the presence oI
other charges. This is true iI the charges are in Iixed positions.
2.4 Electric Field
The electrostatic Iorce, like the gravitational Iorce, is a Iorce that acts at a distance, even
when the objects are not in contact with one another. To justiIy such the notion we
rationalize action at a distance by saying that one charge creates a Iield which in turn acts
on the other charge.
An electric charge q produces an electric Iield everywhere. To quantiIy the strength oI
the Iield created by that charge, we can measure the Iorce a positive 'test charge q
0

experiences at some point. The electric Iield E is deIined as:


F
e
E lim (2.4.1)
q
0
0
q
0
We take q
0
to be inIinitesimally small so that the Iield q
0
generates does not disturb the
'source charges. The analogy between the electric Iield and the gravitational Iield


g lim F
m
/ m
0
is depicted in Figure 2.4.1.
m
0
0
2-7

Figure 2.4.1 Analogy between the gravitational Iield g

and the electric Iield E .


From the Iield theory point oI view, we say that the charge q creates an electric Iield

E which exerts a Iorce F
e
= q
0
E on a test charge q
0
.
Using the deIinition oI electric Iield given in Eq. (2.4.1) and the Coulomb`s law, the
electric Iield at a distance r Irom a point charge q is given by

E =
4
1
0
r
q
2
r` (2.4.2)
Using the superposition principle, the total electric Iield due to a group oI charges is
equal to the vector sum oI the electric Iields oI individual charges:
E

=

i
=

1 q
2
i
r` (2.4.3)
4 r
i i
0 i
2.4.1 Electric Field of Point Charges (link)
Figure 2.4.2 shows one Irame oI animations oI the electric Iield oI a moving positive and
negative point charge, assuming the speed oI the charge is small compared to the speed oI
light.
Figure 2.4.2 The electric Iields oI (a) a moving positive charge (link), (b) a moving
negative charge (link), when the speed oI the charge is small compared to the speed oI
light.
2-8
2.5 Electric Field Lines
Electric Iield lines provide a convenient graphical representation oI the electric Iield in
space. The Iield lines Ior a positive and a negative charges are shown in Figure 2.5.1.
(a) (b)
Figure 2.5.1 Field lines Ior (a) positive and (b) negative charges.
Notice that the direction oI Iield lines is radially outward Ior a positive charge and
radially inward Ior a negative charge. For a pair oI charges oI equal magnitude but
opposite sign (an electric dipole), the Iield lines are shown in Figure 2.5.2.
Figure 2.5.2 Field lines Ior an electric dipole.
The pattern oI electric Iield lines can be obtained by considering the Iollowing:
(1) Symmetry: For every point above the line joining the two charges there is an
equivalent point below it. ThereIore, the pattern must be symmetrical about the line
joining the two charges
(2) Near Iield: Very close to a charge, the Iield due to that charge predominates.
ThereIore, the lines are radial and spherically symmetric.
(3) Far Iield: Far Irom the system oI charges, the pattern should look like that oI a single
point charge oI value Q =

i
Q
i
. Thus, the lines should be radially outward, unless
Q = 0.
2-9

(4) Null point: This is a point at which = , and no Iield lines should pass through it. E 0
The properties oI electric Iield lines may be summarized as Iollows:

The direction oI the electric Iield vector E at a point is tangent to the Iield lines.
The number oI lines per unit area through a surIace perpendicular to the line is
devised to be proportional to the magnitude oI the electric Iield in a given region.
The Iield lines must begin on positive charges (or at inIinity) and then terminate on
negative charges (or at inIinity).
The number oI lines that originate Irom a positive charge or terminating on a negative
charge must be proportional to the magnitude oI the charge.
No two Iield lines can cross each other; otherwise the Iield would be pointing in two
diIIerent directions at the same point.
2.6 Force on a Charged Particle in an Electric Field
Consider a charge +q moving between two parallel plates oI opposite charges, as shown
in Figure 2.6.1.
Figure 2.6.1 Charge moving in a constant electric Iield
Let the electric Iield between the plates be E

= E
y
`
j , with E
y
> 0 . (In Chapter 4, we
shall show that the electric Iield in the region between two inIinitely large plates oI
opposite charges is uniIorm.) The charge will experience a downward Coulomb Iorce

F
e
= qE (2.6.1)
Note the distinction between the charge q that is experiencing a Iorce and the charges on
the plates that are the sources oI the electric Iield. Even though the charge q is also a
source oI an electric Iield, by Newton`s third law, the charge cannot exert a Iorce on

itselI. ThereIore, E is the Iield that arises Irom the 'source charges only.
2-10
According to Newton`s second law, a net Iorce will cause the charge to accelerate with an
acceleration
F

e
qE

qE
y
`
a = = = j (2.6.2)
m m m
Suppose the particle is at rest ( v
0
= 0) when it is Iirst released Irom the positive plate.
The Iinal speed v oI the particle as it strikes the negative plate is
v
y
= 2 , a
y
, y =
2yqE
y
(2.6.3)
m
where y is the distance between the two plates. The kinetic energy oI the particle when it
strikes the plate is
K =
1
2
2
y
mv =
y
qE y (2.6.4)
2.7 Electric Dipole
An electric dipole consists oI two equal but opposite charges, +q and q , separated by a
distance 2a , as shown in Figure 2.7.1.
Figure 2.7.1 Electric dipole
The dipole moment vector p

which points Irom q to +q (in the + y - direction) is given
by
p

= 2qa
`
j (2.7.1)
The magnitude oI the electric dipole is p = 2qa , where q > 0 . For an overall charge-
neutral system having N charges, the electric dipole vector p

is deIined as
2-11
i N =
p

q
i
r

i
(2.7.2)
i=1
where r

i
is the position vector oI the charge q
i
. Examples oI dipoles include HCL, CO,
H
2
O and other polar molecules. In principle, any molecule in which the centers oI the
positive and negative charges do not coincide may be approximated as a dipole. In
Chapter 5 we shall also show that by applying an external Iield, an electric dipole
moment may also be induced in an unpolarized molecule.
2.7.1 The Electric Field of a Dipole
What is the electric Iield due to the electric dipole? ReIerring to Figure 2.7.1, we see that
the x-component oI the electric Iield strength at the point P is
E
x
=
q
,
j cos
+

cos

(
\
=
q
,
j
x

x
(
\
(2.7.3)
4
0 (
r
+
2
r

2
,
4
0
,
(
,

x
2
+ ( y a)
2
]
]
3/ 2
,

x
2
+ ( y + a)
2
]
]
3/ 2
(
,
where
r

2
= r
2
+ a
2
2 cos = x
2
+ (
2
ra y a) (2.7.4)
Similarly, the y -component is
E
y
=
4
q
,
j sin
r

2
+

sin
r

2

(
\
=
4
q
,
,
j
,
2
y a
2
]
3/ 2

,
y + a
2
]
3/ 2
(
(
\
(2.7.5)
0 ( + , 0
(
x + ( y a)
]
x
2
+ ( y + a)
] ,
In the 'point-dipole limit where r a , one may veriIy that (see Solved Problem 2.13.4)
the above expressions reduce to
E
x
=
3p
3
sin cos (2.7.6)
4
0
r
and
E
y
=
4
p
0
r
3
(
3cos
2
1
)
(2.7.7)
where sin = x / r and cos = y / r . With 3 pr cos = p r and some algebra, the electric 3


Iield may be written as

1 p 3( p r r )
E r ( ) =
4
0
,
(
j

r
3
+
r
5 (
,
\
(2.7.8)
2-12
Note that Eq. (2.7.8) is valid also in three dimensions where r

= x
`
i + y
`
j + zk
`
. The

equation indicates that the electric Iield E due to a dipole decreases with r as 1/ r
3
,
unlike the 1/ r
2
behavior Ior a point charge. This is to be expected since the net charge oI
a dipole is zero and thereIore must Iall oII more rapidly than 1/ r
2
at large distance. The
electric Iield lines due to a Iinite electric dipole and a point dipole are shown in Figure
2.7.2.
Figure 2.7.2 Electric Iield lines Ior (a) a Iinite dipole and (b) a point dipole.
2.7.2 Electric Dipole Animation (link)
Figure 2.7.3 shows an interactive ShockWave simulation oI how the dipole pattern arises.
At the observation point, we show the electric Iield due to each charge, which sum
vectorially to give the total Iield. To get a Ieel Ior the total electric Iield, we also show a
'grass seeds representation oI the electric Iield in this case. The observation point can be
moved around in space to see how the resultant Iield at various points arises Irom the
individual contributions oI the electric Iield oI each charge.
Figure 2.7.3 An interactive ShockWave simulation oI the electric Iield oI an two equal
and opposite charges.
2.8 Dipole in Electric Field
What happens when we place an electric dipole in a uniIorm Iield E

= E
`
i , with the
dipole moment vector p

making an angle with the x-axis? From Figure 2.8.1, we see

that the unit vector which points in the direction oI p is cos


`
i + sin
`
j . Thus, we have
2-13
p

= 2 (cos qa
`
i +sin
`
j) (2.8.1)
Figure 2.8.1 Electric dipole placed in a uniIorm Iield.
As seen Irom Figure 2.8.1 above, since each charge experiences an equal but opposite

Iorce due to the Iield, the net Iorce on the dipole is F
net
= F
+
+ F

= 0 . Even though the net


Iorce vanishes, the Iield exerts a torque a toque on the dipole. The torque about the
midpoint O oI the dipole is


= + F =
` `
j
`
+
` `
) (
`
r F r (a cos i + a sin ) ( F i) ( a cos i a sin j F i)
+ + +
= a sin F
+
( + k
`
) a sin F

(k
`
) (2.8.2)
= 2aF sin (k
`
)
where we have used F
+
= F

= F . The direction oI the torque is k


`
, or into the page.
The eIIect oI the torque

is to rotate the dipole clockwise so that the dipole moment
p

becomes aligned with the electric Iield E

= . With F qE , the magnitude oI the torque
can be rewritten as
a qE aq E = 2 ( ) sin = (2 ) sin = pE sin
and the general expression Ior toque becomes


= (2.8.3) p E
Thus, we see that the cross product oI the dipole moment with the electric Iield is equal to
the torque.
2.8.1 Potential Energy of an Electric Dipole
The work done by the electric Iield to rotate the dipole by an angle d is
d (2.8.4) dW = d = pE sin
2-14
The negative sign indicates that the torque opposes any increase in . ThereIore, the total
amount oI work done by the electric Iield to rotate the dipole Irom an angle
0
to is


sin )d = pE (cos cos ) (2.8.5) W = (pE
0
0
The result shows that a positive work is done by the Iield when cos > cos
0
. The
change in potential energy U oI the dipole is the negative oI the work done by the
Iield:
U U
0 0
(2.8.6) = U = W = pE (cos cos )
where U
0
= PE cos
0
is the potential energy at a reIerence point. We shall choose our
reIerence point to be
0
= 2 so that the potential energy is zero there, U
0
= 0 . Thus, in
the presence oI an external Iield the electric dipole has a potential energy

p E U pE = = (2.8.7) cos

A system is at a stable equilibrium when its potential energy is a minimum. This takes
place when the dipole p is aligned parallel to E , making U

a minimum with

. On the other hand, when p


maximum and the system is unstable.
II the dipole is placed in a non-uniIorm Iield, there would be a net Iorce on the dipole in
U = pE and E are anti-parallel, U
max
= + pE is a
min

addition to the torque, and the resulting motion would be a combination oI linear
acceleration and rotation. In Figure 2.8.2, suppose the electric Iield E
+
at +q diIIers Irom

the electric Iield E

at q .
Figure 2.8.2 Force on a dipole
Assuming the dipole to be very small, we expand the Iields about x :
( + a) E x + a
j dE \
, E (x a)
j dE \
E x ( ) E x ( ) a (2.8.8)
+ , ( , (
(
dx
, (
dx
,
2-15
The Iorce on the dipole then becomes
F

= q(E

E

) = 2qa
j dE \
`
i = p
j dE \
`
i (2.8.9)
e + ,
(
dx
(
,
,
(
dx
(
,
An example oI a net Iorce acting on a dipole is the attraction between small pieces oI
paper and a comb, which has been charged by rubbing against hair. The paper has
induced dipole moments (to be discussed in depth in Chapter 5) while the Iield on the
comb is non-uniIorm due to its irregular shape (Figure 2.8.3).
Figure 2.8.3 Electrostatic attraction between a piece oI paper and a comb
2.9 Charge Density
The electric Iield due to a small number oI charged particles can readily be computed
using the superposition principle. But what happens iI we have a very large number oI
charges distributed in some region in space? Let`s consider the system shown in Figure
2.9.1:
Figure 2.9.1 Electric Iield due to a small charge element q
i
.
2.9.1 Volume Charge Density
Suppose we wish to Iind the electric Iield at some point P . Let`s consider a small
volume element V
i
which contains an amount oI charge q
i
. The distances between
charges within the volume element V
i
are much smaller than compared to r, the
distance between V
i
and P . In the limit where V
i
becomes inIinitesimally small, we
may deIine a volume charge density ( ) r

as
2-16
( ) = lim
q
i
dq
(2.9.1) r =
V
i
0
V
i
dV
3
(C/m ) in SI units. The total amount oI

charge within the entire volume V is

( ) r The dimension oI is charge/unit volume


r

( ) dV Q =

q
i
=

(2.9.2)
i
V

( ) r
m
The concept oI charge density here is analogous to mass density . When a large
number oI atoms are tightly packed within a volume, we can also take the continuum
limit and the mass oI an object is given by

r ( )
V
2.9.2 Surface Charge Density
In a similar manner, the charge can be distributed over a surIace S oI area A with a
surface charge density (lowercase Greek letter sigma):
M =

dV (2.9.3)
m
dq
( ) = r (2.9.4)
dA
2
(C/m ) in SI units. The total charge on the entire The dimension oI is charge/unit area
surIace is:

( ) r dA (2.9.5) Q =


S
2.9.3 Line Charge Density
II the charge is distributed over a line oI length , then the linear charge density
(lowercase Greek letter lambda) is

( ) = r
dq
d
(2.9.6)
where the dimension oI is charge/unit length (C/m) . The total charge is now an
integral over the entire length:
Q =

( ) r d (2.9.7)
line
2-17
II charges are uniIormly distributed throughout the region, the densities ( , or ) then
become uniIorm.
2.10 Electric Fields due to Continuous Charge Distributions
The electric Iield at a point P due to each charge element dq is given by Coulomb`s law:
dE

=
1 dq
r` (2.10.1)
4
0
r
2
where r is the distance Irom dq to P and r` is the corresponding unit vector. (See Figure

2.9.1). Using the superposition principle, the total electric Iield E is the vector sum
(integral) oI all these inIinitesimal contributions:
E

=
1

dq
2
r` (2.10.2)
4
0 V
r
This is an example oI a vector integral which consists oI three separate integrations, one
Ior each component oI the electric Iield.
Example 2.2: Electric Field on the Axis of a Rod
A non-conducting rod oI length with a uniIorm positive charge density and a total
charge Q is lying along the x -axis, as illustrated in Figure 2.10.1.
Figure 2.10.1 Electric Iield oI a wire along the axis oI the wire
Calculate the electric Iield at a point P located along the axis oI the rod and a distance x
0
Irom one end.
Solution:
2-18
The linear charge density is uniIorm and is given by = Q / . The amount oI charge
contained in a small segment oI length dx is dq = dx .
Since the source carries a positive charge Q, the Iield at P points in the negative x
direction, and the unit vector that points Irom the source to P isr` =
`
i . The contribution
to the electric Iield due to dq is
dE

=
1 dq
r` =
1 dx
( )
`
i =
1 Qdx
`
i
4
0
r
2
4
0
x
2
4
0
x
2
Integrating over the entire length leads to

1 Q
x +
dx 1 Q j 1 1 \ 1 Q 0
E =

dE =
4
0

x
0
x
2
`
i =
4
0

,
(
x
0

x
0
+
(
,
`
i =
4
0
x
0
( + x
0
)
`
i (2.10.3)
Notice that when P is very Iar away Irom the rod, x
0
, and the above expression
becomes
E


4
1
0
x
Q
0
2
`
i (2.10.4)
The result is to be expected since at suIIiciently Iar distance away, the distinction
between a continuous charge distribution and a point charge diminishes.
Example 2.3: Electric Field on the Perpendicular Bisector (link)
A non-conducting rod oI length with a uniIorm charge density and a total charge Q
is lying along the x -axis, as illustrated in Figure 2.10.2. Compute the electric Iield at a
point P, located at a distance y Irom the center oI the rod along its perpendicular bisector.
Figure 2.10.2
Solution:
2-19
We Iollow a similar procedure as that outlined in Example 2.2. The contribution to the
electric Iield Irom a small length element dx carrying charge dq = dx is
dE =
1 dq
2
=
1
2
dx
2
(2.10.5)
4
0
r 4
0
x + y
Using symmetry argument illustrated in Figure 2.10.3, one may show that the x -
component oI the electric Iield vanishes.
Figure 2.10.3 Symmetry argument showing that E
x
= 0.
The y-component oI dE is
dE
y
= dE cos =
1
2
dx
2
y
=
1
2
y dx
2

3/ 2
(2.10.6)
4
0
x + y
x
2
+ y
2
4
0
(x + y )
By integrating over the entire length, the total electric Iield due to the rod is
E
y
=

dE
y
=
1


/ 2
/ 2

2
ydx
2

3/ 2
=
y

/ 2
/ 2

2
dx
2 3/ 2
(2.10.7)
4
0
(x + y ) 4
0
(x + y )
By making the change oI variable: x = y tan dx = y sec
2
d , the , which gives
above integral becomes
/ 2
dx
=
y sec
2
d
=
1 sec
2
d
=
1 sec
2
d

/ 2
(x
2
+ y
2
)
3/ 2

y
3
(sec
2
+1)
3/ 2
y
2

(tan
2
+1)
3/ 2
y
2

sec
3
(2.10.8)
1

d 1

2sin
=
y
2

sec
=
y
2

cos d =
y
2
which gives
2-20
1 2 sin 1 2 / 2
E = = (2.10.9)
y
2 2
4
0
y 4
0
y
y + ( / 2)
In the limit where y , the above expression reduces to the 'point-charge limit:
1 2 / 2 1 1 Q
E = = (2.10.10)
y 2 2
4
0
y y 4
0
y 4
0
y
On the other hand, when y , we have
1 2
E
y
(2.10.11)
4
0
y
In this inIinite length limit, the system has cylindrical symmetry. In this case, an
alternative approach based on Gauss`s law can be used to obtain Eq. (2.10.11), as we
shall show in Chapter 4. The characteristic behavior oI
y
/
0 0
= / 4
0
2
E E (with E Q ) as
a Iunction oI y / is shown in Figure 2.10.4.
Figure 2.10.4 Electric Iield oI a non-conducting rod as a Iunction oI y / .
Example 2.4: Electric Field on the Axis of a Ring (link)
A non-conducting ring oI radius R with a uniIorm charge density and a total charge Q
is lying in the xy - plane, as shown in Figure 2.10.5. Compute the electric Iield at a point
P, located at a distance z Irom the center oI the ring along its axis oI symmetry.
2-21
Figure 2.10.5 Electric Iield at P due to the charge element dq .
Solution:
Consider a small length element don the ring. The amount oI charge contained within
this element is dq = d = Rd . Its contribution to the electric Iield at P is
dE

=
1 dq
2
r` =
1 Rd
2

r` (2.10.12)
4
0
r 4
0
r
Figure 2.10.6
Using the symmetry argument illustrated in Figure 2.10.6, we see that the electric Iield at
P must point in the +z direction.
1 Rd z Rz d
dE = dE cos = = (2.10.13)
z
4
0
R
2
+ z
2
R
2
+ z
2
4
0
(R
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
Upon integrating over the entire ring, we obtain
Rz 2 Rz 1 Qz
E
z
=
4
0
(R
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
d =
4
0
(R
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
=
4
0
(R
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
(2.10.14)
where the total charge is Q (2 ) . A plot oI the electric Iield as a Iunction oI z is = R
given in Figure 2.10.7.
2-22
Figure 2.10.7 Electric Iield along the axis oI symmetry oI a non-conducting ring oI
radius R, with E
0
= Q / 4
0
R
2
.
Notice that the electric Iield at the center oI the ring vanishes. This is to be expected Irom
symmetry arguments.
Example 2.5: Electric Field Due to a Uniformly Charged Disk
A uniIormly charged disk oI radius R with a total charge Q lies in the xy-plane. Find the
electric Iield at a point P , along the z-axis that passes through the center oI the disk
perpendicular to its plane. Discuss the limit where R ? z .
Solution:
By treating the disk as a set oI concentric uniIormly charged rings, the problem could be
solved by using the result obtained in Example 2.4. Consider a ring oI radius r and
thickness dr , as shown in Figure 2.10.8.
Figure 2.10.8 A uniIormly charged disk oI radius R.
By symmetry arguments, the electric Iield at P points in the +z -direction. Since the ring
has a charge dq = (2 r dr ) , Irom Eq. (2.10.14), we see that the ring gives a
contribution
2-23

z
4
0
(r
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
4
0
(r
2
+ z
2
)
3/ 2
Integrating Irom r = 0 to r = R , the total electric Iield at P becomes
dE =
1 z dq
=
1 z(2 r dr )
(2.10.15)
R
2
+ z
2
2
z
u z
R
r dr z
R
2
+
2
du z
1/ 2
E
z
=

dE
z
=
2
0

0
(r
2
z
2
)
3/ 2
=
4
0

z
2
u
3/ 2
=
4
0
( 1/ 2) +
z
(2.10.16)
z
,
1 1
]

,
z z
]
=
,

]
=
,

2
0
R
2
+ z
2
z
2
]
2
0
, z ,
R
2
+ z
2
]
]
The above equation may be rewritten as

,
z
]
,
1
2 2
]
, z > 0

2
0
z + R
]
(2.10.17) E
z
=


,
z
]

,
1
2 2
]
, z < 0

2
0
z + R
]
The electric Iield
z
/
0
E
0
= / 2
0
) as a Iunction oI z R is shown in Figure 2.10.9. E E ( /
Figure 2.10.9 Electric Iield oI a non-conducting plane oI uniIorm charge density.
To show that the 'point-charge limit is recovered Ior z R , we make use oI the
Taylor-series expansion:
z j R
2
\
1/ 2
j 1 R
2
\ 1 R
2
1 =1
,
1+
2
(
=1
,
1
2
+
(

2
(2.10.18)
z
2
+ R
2
(
z
, (
2 z
,
2 z
This gives
2-24
R
2
1 R
2
1 Q
E
z
=
2
=
2
=
2
(2.10.19)
2 2 z 4 z z
0

0
4
0
which is indeed the expected 'point-charge result. On the other hand, we may also
consider the limit where R z . Physically this means that the plane is very large, or the
Iield point P is extremely close to the surIace oI the plane. The electric Iield in this limit
becomes, in unit-vector notation,

`

k, z > 0
E

=


2
0
(2.10.20)


k
`
, z < 0

2
0
The plot oI the electric Iield in this limit is shown in Figure 2.10.10.
Figure 2.10.10 Electric Iield oI an inIinitely large non-conducting plane.
Notice the discontinuity in electric Iield as we cross the plane. The discontinuity is given
by
j \
E = E E = = (2.10.21)
z z+ z , (
2
0 (
2
0 ,

0
As we shall see in Chapter 4, iI a given surIace has a charge density , then the normal
component oI the electric Iield across that surIace always exhibits a discontinuity with
E
n
= /
0
.
2.11 Summary
The electric Iorce exerted by a charge q
1
on a second charge q
2
is given by
Coulomb`s law:
2-25

q q 1 q q
F = k
1 2
`
1 2
r` r
12 e 2 2
r 4
0
r
where
=
4
1
0

9
N m
2
/ C
2
k = 8.99 10
e
is the Coulomb constant.
The electric field at a point in space is deIined as the electric Iorce acting on a test
charge q
0
divided by q
0
:


F
e
E lim
q
0
0
q
0
The electric Iield at a distance r Irom a charge q is
E

=
1 q
r`
4
0
r
2
Using the superposition principle, the electric Iield due to a collection oI point
charges, each having charge q
i
and located at a distance r
i
away is
E

=
4
1
0

i
r
q
i
2
i
r`
i

A particle oI mass m and charge q moving in an electric Iield E has an acceleration

qE
a =
m
An electric dipole consists oI two equal but opposite charges. The electric dipole
moment vector p

points Irom the negative charge to the positive charge, and has a
magnitude
p = 2aq

The torque acting on an electric dipole places in a uniIorm electric Iield E is


= p E

The potential energy oI an electric dipole in a uniIorm external electric Iield E is
2-26
U =


p E
The electric Iield at a point in space due to a continuous charge element dq is
dE

=
1 dq
r`
4
0
r
2
At suIIiciently Iar away Irom a continuous charge distribution oI Iinite extent, the
electric Iield approaches the 'point-charge limit.
2.12 Problem-Solving Strategies
In this chapter, we have discussed how electric Iield can be calculated Ior both the
discrete and continuous charge distributions. For the Iormer, we apply the superposition
principle:
E

=
4
1
0

i
r
q
i
2
i
r`
i
For the latter, we must evaluate the vector integral
E

=
1

dq
2
r`
4
0
r
where r is the distance Irom dq to the Iield point P and r` is the corresponding unit
vector. To complete the integration, we shall Iollow the procedures outlined below:
(1) Start with dE

=
1 dq
2
r`
4
0
r
(2) Rewrite the charge element dq as
d (length)
dq =

dA (area)

dV (volume)
depending on whether the charge is distributed over a length, an area, or a volume.
2-27

(3) Substitute dq into the expression Ior dE .
(4) SpeciIy an appropriate coordinate system (Cartesian, cylindrical or spherical) and
express the diIIerential element ( d , dA or dV ) and r in terms oI the coordinates (see
Table 2.1 below Ior summary.)
Cartesian (x, y, z) Cylindrical (, , z) Spherical (r, , )
dl , , dx dy dz , , d d dz , , sin dr r d r d
dA , , dx dy dy dz dz dx , , d dz d dz d d
2
, sin , sin r dr d r dr d r d d
dV dx dy dz d d dz
2
sin r dr d d
Table 2.1 DiIIerential elements oI length, area and volume in diIIerent coordinates

(5) Rewrite dE in terms oI the integration variable(s), and apply symmetry argument to
identiIy non-vanishing component(s) oI the electric Iield.

(6) Complete the integration to obtain E .
In the Table below we illustrate how the above methodologies can be utilized to compute
the electric Iield Ior an inIinite line charge, a ring oI charge and a uniIormly charged disk.
Line charge Ring of charge Uniformly charged disk
Figure
(2) Express dq in
terms oI charge
density
dq dx = dq d = dq dA =
(3) Write down dE
2 e
dx
dE k
r

=

2 e
dl
dE k
r

=
2 e
dA
dE k
r

=
2-28
(4) Rewrite r and the
diIIerential element
in terms oI the
appropriate
coordinates
dx
cos
y
r
=

2 2
r x y = +
d R d =
cos
z
r
=
2 2
r R z = +
2 ' ' dA r dr =
cos
z
r
=
2 2
r r z = +
(5) Apply symmetry
argument to identiIy
non-vanishing
component(s) oI dE
2 2 3/ 2
cos
( )
y
e
dE dE
ydx
k
x y


=

=
+
2 2 3/ 2
cos
( )
z
e
dE dE
Rz d
k
R z


=

=
+
2 2 3/ 2
cos
2
( )
z
e
dE dE
zr dr
k
r z


=

=
+
(6) Integrate to get E
/ 2
2 2 3/ 2
/ 2
2 2
( )
2 / 2
( / 2)
y e
e
dx
E k y
x y
k
y
y


+

=
+
=
+





2 2 3/ 2
2 2 3/ 2
2 2 3/ 2
( )
(2 )
( )
( )
z e
e
e
R z
E k d
R z
R z
k
R z
Qz
k
R z



=
+
=
+
=
+

2 2 3/2
0
2 2
2
( )
2
, ,
R
z e
e
r dr
E k z
r z
z z
k
z
z R



=
+
j \
=
, (
+ ( ,

2.13 Solved Problems
2.13.1 Hydrogen Atom
In the classical model oI the hydrogen atom, the electron revolves around the proton with
a radius oI r = 0 53 10
10
m . The magnitude oI the charge oI the electron and proton is .
e = 1.610
19
C.
(a) What is the magnitude oI the electric Iorce between the proton and the electron?
(b) What is the magnitude oI the electric Iield due to the proton at r?
(c) What is ratio oI the magnitudes oI the electrical and gravitational Iorce between
electron and proton? Does the result depend on the distance between the proton and the
electron?
(d) In light oI your calculation in (b), explain why electrical Iorces do not inIluence the
motion oI planets.
Solutions:
(a) The magnitude oI the Iorce is given by
2-29
1 e
2
F
e
=
2
4
0
r
Now we can substitute our numerical values and Iind that the magnitude oI the Iorce
between the proton and the electron in the hydrogen atom is
9 2 2 19 2
(9.0 10 N m / C )(1.6 10 C)
8
F
e
=

11 2
= 8.210

N
(5.3 10 m)
(b) The magnitude oI the electric Iield due to the proton is given by
9

2 2 19
E =
1 q
=
(9.0 10 N m / C )(1.6 10 C)
= 5.7610
11
N/ C
4
0
r
2
(0.5 10
10
m)
2
(c) The mass oI the electron is m
e
= 9 1 10 .
31
kg and the mass oI the proton is
m = 1 7 10
27
. kg . Thus, the ratio oI the magnitudes oI the electric and gravitational
p
Iorce is given by
j 1 e
2
\
1
( 0 ,
4 (9.0 10 N m / C )(1.6 10 C)
39
=
,
4 r
2
(
=

0
e
2
=
11
9
2

2
2 2
27
19 2
31
= 2.2 10
j
p p e
N m / kg )(1.7 kg)(9.1 10 m m \ Gm m (6.67 10 10 kg)
,
G
2
e
(
(
r
,
which is independent oI r, the distance between the proton and the electron.
(d) The electric Iorce is 39 orders oI magnitude stronger than the gravitational Iorce
between the electron and the proton. Then why are the large scale motions oI planets
determined by the gravitational Iorce and not the electrical Iorce. The answer is that the
magnitudes oI the charge oI the electron and proton are equal. The best experiments show
that the diIIerence between these magnitudes is a number on the order oI10
24
. Since
objects like planets have about the same number oI protons as electrons, they are
essentially electrically neutral. ThereIore the Iorce between planets is entirely determined
by gravity.
2.13.2 Millikan Oil-Drop Experiment
6 2
An oil drop oI radius r = 1.6410 m and mass density
oil
= 8.51 10 kg m
3
is

allowed to Iall Irom rest and then enters into a region oI constant external Iield E applied
in the downward direction. The oil drop has an unknown electric charge q (due to
irradiation by bursts oI X-rays). The magnitude oI the electric Iield is adjusted until the
2-30
gravitational Iorce F

g
= mg

= mg
`
j on the oil drop is exactly balanced by the electric

Iorce, F
e
= qE. Suppose this balancing occurs when the electric Iield is

`
5
`
5
E = E j = (1.92 10 N C) j , with E
y
=1.9210 N C .
y
(a) What is the mass oI the oil drop?
(b) What is the charge on the oil drop in units oI electronic charge e =1.610
19
C?
Solutions:
(a) The mass density
oil
times the volume oI the oil drop will yield the total mass M oI
the oil drop,
M =
oil
V =
oil
j
,
4
r
3
\
(
(
3
,
where the oil drop is assumed to be a sphere oI radius r with volume V = 4r
3
/ 3 .
Now we can substitute our numerical values into our symbolic expression Ior the mass,
j 4
3
\

2 3
j 4 \
6 3 14
M =
oil ,
r
(
= (8.51 10 kg m )
, (
(1.6410 m) =1.5710 kg
(
3
, (
3
,
(b) The oil drop will be in static equilibrium when the gravitational Iorce exactly balances

the electrical Iorce: F
g
+ F
e
= 0 . Since the gravitational Iorce points downward, the
electric Iorce on the oil must be upward. Using our Iorce laws, we have
0 = mg

+ qE

mg = qE
y
With the electrical Iield pointing downward, we conclude that the charge on the oil drop
must be negative. Notice that we have chosen the unit vector
`
j to point upward. We can
solve this equation Ior the charge on the oil drop:
14 2
mg (1.57 10 kg)(9.80m/ s )
19
q = =
5
= C 8.03 10
E 1.9210 N C
y
Since the electron has charge e =1 610
19
C . , the charge oI the oil drop in units oI e is
q 8.0210
19
C
N = =
19
= 5
e 1.610 C
2-31
You may at Iirst be surprised that this number is an integer, but the Millikan oil drop
experiment was the Iirst direct experimental evidence that charge is quantized. Thus,
Irom the given data we can assert that there are Iive electrons on the oil drop!
2.13.3 Charge Moving Perpendicularly to an Electric Field
An electron is injected horizontally into a uniIorm Iield produced by two oppositely
charged plates, as shown in Figure 2.13.1. The particle has an initial velocity v

0
= v
0
`
i

perpendicular to E .
Figure 2.13.1 Charge moving perpendicular to an electric Iield
(a) While between the plates, what is the Iorce on the electron?
(b) What is the acceleration oI the electron when it is between the plates?
(c) The plates have length L
1
in the x -direction. At what time t
1
will the electron leave
the plate?
(d) Suppose the electron enters the electric Iield at time t = 0 . What is the velocity oI the
electron at time t
1
when it leaves the plates?
(e) What is the vertical displacement oI the electron aIter time t
1
when it leaves the
plates?
(I) What angle
1
does the electron make
1
with the horizontal, when the electron leaves
the plates at time t
1
?
(g) The electron hits the screen located a distance L
2
Irom the end oI the plates at a time
t
2
. What is the total vertical displacement oI the electron Irom time t = 0 until it hits the
screen at t
2
?
Solutions:
2-32
(a) Since the electron has a negative charge, q = e , the Iorce on the electron is

qE = e = ( )( e E
y
)
`
y
`
Fe = E j = eE j
where the electric Iield is written as E

= E
y
`
j , with E
y
> 0 . The Iorce on the electron is
upward. Note that the motion oI the electron is analogous to the motion oI a mass that is
thrown horizontally in a constant gravitational Iield. The mass Iollows a parabolic
trajectory downward. Since the electron is negatively charged, the constant Iorce on the
electron is upward and the electron will be deIlected upwards on a parabolic path.
(b) The acceleration oI the electron is
a

=
qE

=
qE
y
`
j =
eE
y
`
j
m m m
and its direction is upward.
(c) The time oI passage Ior the electron is given by t
1
= L
1
/ v
0
. The time t
1
is not aIIected
by the acceleration because v
0
, the horizontal component oI the velocity which
determines the time, is not aIIected by the Iield.
(d) The electron has an initial horizontal velocity, v

0
= v
0
`
i . Since the acceleration oI the
electron is in the y -direction, only the y -component oI the velocity changes. The
velocity at a later time t
1
is given by
j eE eE L
x
`
i + v
y
`
j =
0
`
i + a
y 1
`
j i v
`
+
y
\
( 1
`
j v
0
`
j
y 1
\
(
`
v = v v t
0 ,
t i +
,
j
(
m
, (
mv
0 ,
(e) From the Iigure, we see that the electron travels a horizontal distance L
1
in the time
t
1
= L
1
v
0
and then emerges Irom the plates with a vertical displacement
1
2
1 j eE
y
\j L
1
\
2
y = a t =
1
2
y 1
2
(
,
m
,
(
(
,
v
0 ,
(
(I) When the electron leaves the plates at timet
1
, the electron makes an angle
1
with the
horizontal given by the ratio oI the components oI its velocity,
v (eE / m)( L / v ) eE L
tan =
y
=
y 1 0
=
y 1
2
v
x
v
0
mv
0
2-33
(g) AIter the electron leaves the plate, there is no longer any Iorce on the electron so it
travels in a straight path. The deIlection y
2
is
eE L L
y = L tan =
y 1 2
2 2 1 2
mv
0
and the total deIlection becomes
eE L eE L L eE L
1
y 1
2
y 1 2 y 1 j 1 \
y = y
1
+ y
2
=
2
+
2
=
2 ,
L
1
+ L
2 (
2 mv
0
mv
0
mv
0
(
2
,
2.13.4 Electric Field of a Dipole
Consider the electric dipole moment shown in Figure 2.7.1.
(a) Show that the electric Iield oI the dipole in the limit where r a is
E
x
=
4
3p
0
r
3
sin cos , E
y
=
4
p
0
r
3
(
3cos
2
1
)
where sin = x / r and cos = y / r .
(b) Show that the above expression Ior the electric Iield can also be written in terms oI
the polar coordinates as
E

( , ) = E
r
r` + E

`
r
where
E
r
=
2 cos
3

, E

=
p sin
3
p
4
0
r 4
0
r
Solutions:
(a) Let`s compute the electric Iield strength at a distance r a due to the dipole. The x -
component oI the electric Iield strength at the point P with Cartesian coordinates ( x, y, 0)
is given by
q j cos cos \ q
j
x x
\
E =
+


=
,

(
x
4
0
,
(
r
+
2
r

2
(
,
4
0
(
,
,

x
2
+ ( y a)
2
]
]
3/ 2
,

x
2
+ ( y + a)
2
]
]
3/ 2
,
(
2-34
where
r

2
= r
2
+ a
2
2 cos = x
2
+ (
2
ra y a)
Similarly, the y -component is given by
E
y
=
4
q
0
,
(
j sin
r
+

2
+

sin
r


2

(
,
\
=
4
q
0
,
(
,
j
,

x
2
+ (
y
y


a
a)
2
]
]
3/ 2

,

x
2
+ (
y
y
+
+
a
a)
2
]
]
3/ 2
(
,
(
\
We shall make a polynomial expansion Ior the electric Iield using the Taylor-series
expansion. We will then collect terms that are proportional to 1/ r
3
and ignore terms that
are proportional to 1/ r
5
, where r = +(x
2
+ y
2
)
1 2
.
We begin with
2 2 3/ 2 2 2 2 3/ 2 3
, a
2
2ay ]
3/ 2
|x + ( y a) | = |x + y + a 2ay | = r
,
1 +
2 ]

r
]
In the limit where r >> a , we use the Taylor-series expansion with s (a
2
2ay ) / r
2
:
(1 + s)
3/ 2
= 1
3
s +
15
s
2
...
2 8
and the above equations Ior the components oI the electric Iield becomes
q 6xya
E = + ...
x
4
0
r
5
and
2
q j 2a 6y a \
E = + + ...
y
4
0 (
,
r
3
r
5
,
(
where we have neglected the ( ) terms. The electric Iield can then be written as O s
2
E

= E
`
i + E
`
j =
q ,

2a
`
j +
6ya
(x
`
i + y
`
j)
]
=
p
,
3yx
`
i +
j 3y
2
1
\
`
j
]
x y
4
0
,

r
3
r
5 ]
]
4
0
r
3
,

r
2
,
(
r
2
(
,
]
]
where we have made used oI the deIinition oI the magnitude oI the electric dipole
moment p = 2aq .
2-35
In terms oI the polar coordinates, with sin = x r and cos = y r (as seen Irom Figure
2.13.4), we obtain the desired results:
E
x
=
4
3p
0
r
sin cos , E
y
=
4
p
0
r
(
3cos
2
1
)
3 3
(b) We begin with the expression obtained in (a) Ior the electric dipole in Cartesian
coordinates:

E(r, ) =
4
p
0
r
3

,
3sin cos
`
i +
(
3cos
2
1
)
`
j
]
]
With a little algebra, the above expression may be rewritten as

p
E(r, ) =
4
0
r
3
,

2cos
(
sin
`
i + cos
`
j
)
+ sin cos
`
i +
(
cos
2
1
)
`
j
]
]
=
4
p
0
r
,
2cos
(
sin
`
i + cos
`
j
)
+ sin
(
cos
`
i sin
`
j
)
]
3
]
2 2
where the trigonometric identity
(
cos 1
)
= sin has been used. Since the unit
vectors r` and
`
in polar coordinates can be decomposed as
r` = sin
`
i + cos
`
j

`
= cos
`
i sin
`
j,
the electric Iield in polar coordinates is given by

p
E(r, ) =
4
0
r
3

,
2cos r` + sin
`
]
]

and the magnitude oI E is


E = (E
r
2
+ E

2
)
1/ 2
=
4
p
r
3
(
3cos
2
+1
)
1/ 2
0
2.13.5 Electric Field of an Arc
A thin rod with a uniIorm charge per unit length is bent into the shape oI an arc oI a
circle oI radius R. The arc subtends a total angle 2
0
, symmetric about the x-axis, as

shown in Figure 2.13.2. What is the electric Iield E at the origin O?


2-36
Solution:
Consider a diIIerential element oI length d = Rd , which makes an angle with the
x - axis, as shown in Figure 2.13.2(b). The amount oI charge it carries is
dq = d = Rd .
The contribution to the electric Iield at O is

1 dq 1 dq 1 d
dE =
4
0
r
2
r` =
4
0
R
2
(
cos
`
i sin
`
j
)
=
4
0
R
(
cos
`
i sin
`
j
)
Figure 2.13.2 (a) Geometry oI charged source. (b) Charge element dq
Integrating over the angle Irom
0
to +
0
, we have

=
1 2 sin
0
`
i

1

0 1
0
E =
4
0
R

0
d
(
cos
`
i sin
`
j
)
=
4
0
R
(
sin
`
i + cos
`
j
)

0
4
0
R
We see that the electric Iield only has the x -component, as required by a symmetry
argument. II we take the limit
0
, the arc becomes a circular ring. Since sin = 0 ,
the equation above implies that the electric Iield at the center oI a non-conducting ring is
zero. This is to be expected Irom symmetry arguments. On the other hand, Ior very
small
0
, sin
0

0
and we recover the point-charge limit:
E


1 2
0
`
i =
1 2
2
0
R
`
i =
1 Q
2
`
i
4
0
R 4
0
R 4
0
R
where the total charge on the arc is Q = = (2R
0
) .
2.13.6 Electric Field Off the Axis of a Finite Rod
2-37
A non-conducting rod oI length with a uniIorm charge density and a total charge Q
is lying along the x -axis, as illustrated in Figure 2.13.3. Compute the electric Iield at a
point P, located at a distance y oII the axis oI the rod.
Figure 2.13.3
Solution:
The problem can be solved by Iollowing the procedure used in Example 2.3. Consider a
length element dx on the rod, as shown in Figure 2.13.4. The charge carried by the
element is dq = dx .
Figure 2.13.4
The electric Iield at P produced by this element is
dE

=
1 dq
r` =
1 dx
(
sin
`
i + cos
`
j
)
4
0
r
2
4
0
x
2
+ y
2
where the unit vector r` has been written in Cartesian coordinates: r` = sin
`
i + cos
`
j .
In the absence oI symmetry, the Iield at P has both the x- and y-components. The x-
component oI the electric Iield is
2-38
1 dx 1 dx x 1 x dx
dE = sin = =
x 2 2 2 2
2 2
2 2 3/ 2
4
0
x + y 4
0
x + y
x + y
4
0
(x + y )
Integrating Irom x = x
1
to x = x
2
, we have
2 2
x dx 1 du
E =
x
2

=
x
2
+ y
= u
1/ 2
x
4
0

x
1
(x
2
+ y
2
)
3/ 2
4
0
2

x
1
2
+ y
2
u
3/ 2
4
0

,
1 1
]

,
y

y
= , ] = ,
4
0
,

x
2
2
+ y
2
x
1
2
+ y
2
]
]
4
0
y
,

x
2
2
+ y
2
x
1
2
+

=
4
0
y
(cos cos )
2 1
x
x
2
2
+ y
2
1
2
+ y
2
]
]
y
2
]
]
Similarly, the y-component oI the electric Iield due to the charge element is
dE =
1 dx
cos =
1 dx y
=
1 ydx
y 2 2 2 2
2 2
2 2 3/ 2
4
0
x + y 4
0
x + y
x + y
4
0
(x + y )
Integrating over the entire length oI the rod, we obtain

y 2
E =
4


y
0

x
x
1
2
(x
2
+
dx
y

2
)
3/ 2
=
4


y
0
y
1
2


1
2
cos d =
4

0
y
(sin sin
1
)
where we have used the result obtained in Eq. (2.10.8) in completing the integration.
In the inIinite length limit where x
1
and x
2
+ , with x
i
= y tan
i
, the
corresponding angles are
1
= / 2 and
2
= + / 2 . Substituting the values into the
expressions above, we have
1 2
E
x
= 0, E
y
=
4
0
y
in complete agreement with the result shown in Eq. (2.10.11).
2.14 Conceptual Questions
1. Compare and contrast Newton`s law oI gravitation, F = Gm m / r
2
, and
g 1 2
Coulomb`s law, F = kq q r
2
.
e 1 2
/
2. Can electric Iield lines cross each other? Explain.
2-39
3. Two opposite charges are placed on a line as shown in the Iigure below.
The charge on the right is three times the magnitude oI the charge on the leIt.
Besides inIinity, where else can electric Iield possibly be zero?
4. A test charge is placed at the point P near a positively-charged insulating rod.
How would the magnitude and direction oI the electric Iield change iI the
magnitude oI the test charge were decreased and its sign changed with everything
else remaining the same?
5. An electric dipole, consisting oI two equal and opposite point charges at the ends oI
an insulating rod, is Iree to rotate about a pivot point in the center. The rod is then
placed in a non-uniIorm electric Iield. Does it experience a Iorce and/or a torque?
2-40
MIT OpenCourseWare
http://ocw.mit.edu
8.02SC Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism
Fall 2010
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