<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • Describe the relationship between voltage and electric field.
  • Derive an expression for the electric potential and electric field.
  • Calculate electric field strength given distance and voltage.

In the previous section, we explored the relationship between voltage and energy. In this section, we will explore the relationship between voltage and electric field. For example, a uniform electric field E size 12{E} {} is produced by placing a potential difference (or voltage) Δ V size 12{V} {} across two parallel metal plates, labeled A and B. (See [link] .) Examining this will tell us what voltage is needed to produce a certain electric field strength; it will also reveal a more fundamental relationship between electric potential and electric field. From a physicist’s point of view, either Δ V size 12{V} {} or E size 12{E} {} can be used to describe any charge distribution. Δ V size 12{V} {} is most closely tied to energy, whereas E size 12{E} {} is most closely related to force. Δ V size 12{V} {} is a scalar    quantity and has no direction, while E size 12{E} {} is a vector    quantity, having both magnitude and direction. (Note that the magnitude of the electric field strength, a scalar quantity, is represented by E size 12{V} {} below.) The relationship between Δ V size 12{V} {} and E size 12{E} {} is revealed by calculating the work done by the force in moving a charge from point A to point B. But, as noted in Electric Potential Energy: Potential Difference , this is complex for arbitrary charge distributions, requiring calculus. We therefore look at a uniform electric field as an interesting special case.

The figure shows two vertically oriented parallel plates A and B separated by a distance d. The plate A is positively charged and B is negatively charged. Electric field lines are parallel between the plates and curved at the ends of the plates. A charge q is moved from A to B. The work done W equals q times V sub A B, and the electric field intensity E equals V sub A B over d and potential difference delta V equals q times V sub A B.
The relationship between V size 12{V} {} and E size 12{E} {} for parallel conducting plates is E = V / d size 12{E=V/d} {} . (Note that Δ V = V AB size 12{ΔV=V rSub { size 8{"AB"} } } {} in magnitude. For a charge that is moved from plate A at higher potential to plate B at lower potential, a minus sign needs to be included as follows: –Δ V = V A V B = V AB . See the text for details.)

The work done by the electric field in [link] to move a positive charge q size 12{q} {} from A, the positive plate, higher potential, to B, the negative plate, lower potential, is

W = –Δ PE = q Δ V . size 12{W= - Δ"PE"= - qΔV} {}

The potential difference between points A and B is

–Δ V = ( V B V A ) = V A V B = V AB .

Entering this into the expression for work yields

W = qV AB . size 12{W= ital "qV" rSub { size 8{ ital "AB"} } } {}

Work is W = Fd cos θ size 12{W= ital "Fd""cos"?} {} ; here cos θ = 1 , since the path is parallel to the field, and so W = Fd . Since F = qE , we see that W = qEd . Substituting this expression for work into the previous equation gives

qEd = qV AB . size 12{qEd= ital "qV" rSub { size 8{ ital "AB"} } } {}

The charge cancels, and so the voltage between points A and B is seen to be

V AB = Ed E = V AB d (uniform E - field only),

where d size 12{d} {} is the distance from A to B, or the distance between the plates in [link] . Note that the above equation implies the units for electric field are volts per meter. We already know the units for electric field are newtons per coulomb; thus the following relation among units is valid:

1 N / C = 1 V / m . size 12{"1 N"/C="1 V"/m} {}

Voltage between points a and b

V AB = Ed E = V AB d (uniform E - field only),

where d size 12{d} {} is the distance from A to B, or the distance between the plates.

What is the highest voltage possible between two plates?

Dry air will support a maximum electric field strength of about 3.0 × 10 6 V/m size 12{3×"10" rSup { size 8{6} } " V/m"} {} . Above that value, the field creates enough ionization in the air to make the air a conductor. This allows a discharge or spark that reduces the field. What, then, is the maximum voltage between two parallel conducting plates separated by 2.5 cm of dry air?

Strategy

We are given the maximum electric field E size 12{E} {} between the plates and the distance d between them. The equation V AB = Ed size 12{V rSub { size 8{"AB"} } =Ed} {} can thus be used to calculate the maximum voltage.

Solution

The potential difference or voltage between the plates is

V AB = Ed . size 12{V rSub { size 8{"AB"} } =Ed} {}

Entering the given values for E size 12{E} {} and d size 12{d} {} gives

V AB = ( 3.0 × 10 6 V/m ) ( 0.025 m ) = 7.5 × 10 4 V

or

V AB = 75 kV . size 12{V rSub { size 8{"AB"} } ="75" "kV"} {}

(The answer is quoted to only two digits, since the maximum field strength is approximate.)

Discussion

One of the implications of this result is that it takes about 75 kV to make a spark jump across a 2.5 cm (1 in.) gap, or 150 kV for a 5 cm spark. This limits the voltages that can exist between conductors, perhaps on a power transmission line. A smaller voltage will cause a spark if there are points on the surface, since points create greater fields than smooth surfaces. Humid air breaks down at a lower field strength, meaning that a smaller voltage will make a spark jump through humid air. The largest voltages can be built up, say with static electricity, on dry days.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

write an expression for a plane progressive wave moving from left to right along x axis and having amplitude 0.02m, frequency of 650Hz and speed if 680ms-¹
Gabriel Reply
how does a model differ from a theory
Friday Reply
what is vector quantity
Ridwan Reply
Vector quality have both direction and magnitude, such as Force, displacement, acceleration and etc.
Besmellah
Is the force attractive or repulsive between the hot and neutral lines hung from power poles? Why?
Jack Reply
what's electromagnetic induction
Chinaza Reply
electromagnetic induction is a process in which conductor is put in a particular position and magnetic field keeps varying.
Lukman
wow great
Salaudeen
what is mutual induction?
je
mutual induction can be define as the current flowing in one coil that induces a voltage in an adjacent coil.
Johnson
how to undergo polarization
Ajayi Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y³ towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v²k² and distance uk²/√u-vk as origin
Gabriel Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y^3 towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v^2k^2 and distance uk^2/√u-k as origin
Gabriel Reply
No idea.... Are you even sure this question exist?
Mavis
I can't even understand the question
Ademiye
yes it was an assignment question "^"represent raise to power pls
Gabriel
mu/y³ u>v²k² uk²/√u-vk please help me out
Gabriel
An engineer builds two simple pendula. Both are suspended from small wires secured to the ceiling of a room. Each pendulum hovers 2 cm above the floor. Pendulum 1 has a bob with a mass of 10kg . Pendulum 2 has a bob with a mass of 100 kg . Describe how the motion of the pendula will differ if the bobs are both displaced by 12º .
Imtiaz Reply
no ideas
Augstine
if u at an angle of 12 degrees their period will be same so as their velocity, that means they both move simultaneously since both both hovers at same length meaning they have the same length
Ademiye
Modern cars are made of materials that make them collapsible upon collision. Explain using physics concept (Force and impulse), how these car designs help with the safety of passengers.
Isaac Reply
calculate the force due to surface tension required to support a column liquid in a capillary tube 5mm. If the capillary tube is dipped into a beaker of water
Mildred Reply
find the time required for a train Half a Kilometre long to cross a bridge almost kilometre long racing at 100km/h
Ademiye
method of polarization
Ajayi
What is atomic number?
Makperr Reply
The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom
Deborah
type of thermodynamics
Yinka Reply
oxygen gas contained in a ccylinder of volume has a temp of 300k and pressure 2.5×10Nm
Taheer Reply
why the satellite does not drop to the earth explain
Emmanuel Reply
what is a matter
Yinka
what is matter
Yinka
what is matter
Yinka
what is a matter
Yinka
I want the nuclear physics conversation
Mohamed
because space is a vacuum and anything outside the earth 🌎 can not come back without an act of force applied to it to leave the vacuum and fall down to the earth with a maximum force length of 30kcm per second
Clara
Practice Key Terms 2

Get Jobilize Job Search Mobile App in your pocket Now!

Get it on Google Play Download on the App Store Now




Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask