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PHYSICS 505: CLASSICAL ELECTRODYNAMICS HOMEWORK 2

2.8 Let us consider two parallel, straight line charges separated by a distance R and with equal and
opposite linear charge densities .
a) Let us find the surfaces of constant potential. We will show that these are circular cylinders.
With the anticipation only available in hindsight, let us work with polar coordinates
suppressing the longitudinal directiondefined such that the origin is located at the
center of one of the circles of constant potential. Specifically, let us say that the first
line charge is located at (, 0) and the second at (R + , 0). Although we do not yet
know the displacement from the first line charge, we know that if is properly
specified, the potential should be independent of the angular coordinate.
In general, the potential will be the linear superposition the potentials of each of the
two line-charges. Having calculated this in homework one, we see


(, ) =
log( 2 2 cos + 2 ) log((R + )2 2(R + ) cos + 2 ) .
40
The requirement that be constant on a cylinder centered at the origin is equivalent to
the condition that
= 0. Using this identity, we compute

sin
(R + ) sin
=0=

20 2 2 cos + 2
(R + )2 2(R + ) cos + 2

sin
(R + )
=

,
20
2 2 cos + 2
(R + )2 2(R + ) cos + 2
(R + )

=
.
2 2 cos + 2
(R + )2 2(R + ) cos + 2
Expanding and collecting terms, we arrive at the constraint

2 = ( + R).
We must now determine the radius such that (, ) = V . To do this, we will
insert the expression derived above for 2 into our expression for the potential with
the condition that = V . Because this will be independent of the angle, let us
choose = /2 to simplify our expressions. We will need to remember this choice
later.
Computing directly, we see that

2 2 cos + 2
(, ) = V =
log
,
40
(R + )2 2(R + ) cos + 2

2 + 2 + R
=
log
,
40
(R + )2 + 2 + R

2 2 + R

log
.
=
40
2 2 + 3R + R2
By rearranging terms, exponentiating, and simplifying, we obtain the quadratic expression

2 2 1 e40 V / + R 1 3e40 V / R2 e40 V / = 0.


Simply using the quadratic formula and a bit of algebra, we see that
=

R
40 V /
40 V /
,
1

3e

e
2(1 e40 V / )

e40 V /
R
Re20 V /
=
=

or = R/2.
2 sinh(20 V /)
1 e40 V /
e40 V / 1
Notice that the solution of the quadratic, = R/2, simply demonstrates that between the two wires the potential is constant along the line (, /2). We could have
anticipated this solution because we simplified our work to determine using the
condition that at , (, /2) = (, /2) = V . The fact that this cannot be a solution is evident from the last line of our expression for (, ) above: the numerator
in the logarithm vanishes if = R/2 and hence this is not a physical solution.
=R

JACOB LEWIS BOURJAILY

Using our expression for , we have


2 = R 2

e80 V /
e40 V /
e40 V /
+ R2
= R2
,
4
V
/
2
4
V
/
(1 e 0
)
(1 e 0
)
(1 e40 V / )2

e20 V /
Re20 V /
R
=
=
.
4
V
/
4
V
/
0
0
2 sinh(20 V /)
1e
e
1
Therefore, we have shown that if
=R

R
2 sinh(20 V /)

and

Re20 V /
,
2 sinh(20 V /)

the potential along a right circular cylinder in the longitudinal direction of radius
positioned precisely to the left of the first line-charge is constant and equal to V .
It is important to notice that the sign of is somewhat important. In particular, if
V / < 0 then is a positive displacement to the left of and encloses the first linecharge. However, if V / > 0, then is a negative displacement to the left of the first
line-charge; in particular, > R and so the cylinder is displaced to the right of and
encloses the second line-charge.
b) We are to demonstrate that the capacitance per unit length of two cylindrical conductors with
radii a and b separated by a distance d is given by
20
2 2 b2 .
C=
arccosh d a
2ab

. We
proof: We know from the definition of capacitance that it is given by C/L = V+ V

must show that the above equation is consistent with this fact.
First, we know that the required problem is equivalent to one in which there are only
two line charges, separated by a distance R = + + with radii such that the
two cylinders are at constant voltages V+ and V , respectively. Specifically, we see,
reorganizing the expressions derived above,
R
R
d = + = 4 V /
4 V /
,
0

0
+
(e
1) (e
1)
and,
Re20 V+ /
Re20 V /
a = 4 V /
and b = 4 V /
.
0 +
0
(e
1)
(e
1)
2

b
and see
Looking at the equation we must verify, it may be helpful to compute d a
2ab
if it points us toward the solution. Let us first compute the numerator. We find that

d2 a2 b2 =

40 V

40 V+

40 V

40 V+

40 V

2R
R
R e
R e

40 V+
+ 4 V
2 40 V+
2 40 V
2 ,
0 +
1 e
1
1
1)
1
e
e
e

40 V

1e
2
1e
40 V+

= R 4 V
+ 4 V
+ 40 V
,

2
2
0 +
0

e
1 e
1
e
e
1
1
40 V+
40 V
R2
40 V+
e
.
= 40 V
e
e
1 e
1
2

Now, because
2ab =
e

2R2 e20 (V+ V )/


40 V+
,
1 e
1

40 V

we have that

1
d2 a2 b2
= e20 (V+ V )/ e40 V+ / + e40 V / ,
2ab
2

1 20 (V+ V )/
=
e
+ e20 (V+ V )/ ,
2

PHYSICS 505: CLASSICAL ELECTRODYNAMICS HOMEWORK 2


2

d a b
20 (V+ V )
= cosh
.
2ab

Therefore, we see that the capacitance per unit length agrees with the desired formula:

C=

20
2 2 b2 =
arccosh d a
2ab

20
20 (V+ V )

.
V+ V
o 

c) Let us verify that the expression above for the capacitance agrees with that derived in homework
one for a similar problem in the limit where d2 >> a2 + b2 .
proof: Similar to our previous results, we can make extraordinary progress by simply guessing the form of the answer. First, it should be true that
2

d a2 b2
arccosh
= log ,
2ab
for some . In fact, because we are simply verifying a result, we could presume it to
be true and then it would be obvious what must be. However, let us simply see if
such an equation makes sense.
By taking the hyperbolic cosine of each side, we effectively exponentiate the logarithm.
Therefore, must satisfy

1
d2 a2 b2
1 log
1
2 + 1
=
e
+ e log =
+
=
.
2ab
2
2

2
This reduces to the following quadratic equation,
2

d a2 b2
2
+ 1 = 0.
ab
It is clear that in the limit where
solution and that given by

d2 a2 b2
ab

>> 1, the solutions approach the trivial

d2 a2 b2
.
ab
2
Furthermore, in the limit of d2 >> a2 + b2 , this approaches dab .
Therefore, we see that
0
0
0
0
.

2 2 b2
d2 a2 b2
d2
C=
arccosh d a
log
log
2 log d
2ab
ab
ab

ab

20

.
log dab

o