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Chapter 2 – Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:

Introduction

Have you noticed a comb run through one’s dry hair attracts small bits of paper? Why? Does this phenomenon question your brain and the forces acting behind the actions? Then you are at the right space to find the answers.

This happens due to the presence of Electrostatic energy, which is created due to the friction of comb and dry hair. The comb gets charged by friction, and the molecules in the comb are polarised due to the charged comb. On a rainy day or when the hair is wet, this friction does not take place, resulting in no charge production in the comb. This is the phenomenon of Electrostatic potential or energy, which will further be discussed in the chapter Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance.

This blog will discuss Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance. Electrostatics can be defined as the study of forces between the charges according to Coulomb’s Law. This section will cover topics such as Potential, Equipotential Surface, Potential Energy, etc.

It can be defined as the amount of work that is required to be done in order to move an electric charge say q from a reference point to a specific point in an electric field without the production of any acceleration.

V = k*charge/distance of separation where,
V = Electric Potential
K = Coulomb constant
Q = Charge
R = Distance of separation

Potential can also be discussed as the difference in potential energy per unit charge between two locations in an electric field.

Any surface having a constant potential is known as Equipotential Surface. The potential difference is determined to be zero between any two points when on an equipotential surface.
Properties of an equipotential surface are as below:

  • When a charge is moved from one point to another on an equipotential surface, the work done is zero.
  • The electric field is always perpendicular to an equipotential surface.
  • The regions of strong and weak fields can be identified with the spacing between equipotential surfaces.
  • Two equipotential surfaces can never intersect. If two equipotential surfaces could intersect, then at the point of intersection there would be two values of electric potential, which is not possible.
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Do you ever wonder why a spring elongates when stretched or springs back up when pressure is exerted on it? This may be caused due to the presence of Kinetic energy used to compress a spring, which is stored as potential energy until released. The potential energy of an object is based on the position, state, and the arrangement in which the object is kept. It can be defined as energy that is stored, or conserved, in an object or substance.

W = mass×acceleration due to gravity×height = mgh where,

  • m is the mass in kilograms
  • g is the acceleration due to gravity
  • h is the height in meters

This energy has the potential to do work, and when the position, arrangement, or state of the object is changed, the stored energy is released. There are two different types of potential energy:

  • Gravitational Potential Energy can be defined as energy, which is stored in an object that is placed vertically, due to the force of gravity acting to pull it down.
  • Elastic Potential Energy can be defined as energy stored in objects, which can be stretched or compressed. Examples: rubber bands and trampolines.

Whether polar or nonpolar, a dielectric develops a net dipole moment in the presence of an external field. The dipole moment per unit volume is called polarisation and is denoted by P for linear isotropic dielectrics.

P E = χe where,
χe is a constant characteristic of the dielectric and is known as the electric susceptibility of the dielectric medium.

A capacitor is a system of two conductors separated by an insulator. It can be defined as a simple passive device, which stores an electric charge on their plates when connected to a voltage source.

  • They have the capacity to store energy in the form of electrical charge.
  • They produce potential differences across their plates.
  • A capacitor consists of two or more parallel conductive (metal) plates.
  • Not connected.
  • These plates are electrically separated.
  • A dielectric is an insulating layer between capacitor plates.

Capacitance can be defined by the property of a capacitor to store charge on its plates in an electrostatic field form. The resistance of change of voltage across a capacitor is also defined as the capacitance of a capacitor.

It is the ability of a capacitor to store electric charge on its two plates. The unit of Capacitance is known as Farad (F) that is named after Michael Faraday.

Ø  Standard Units of Capacitance

  • Microfarad (μF) 1μF = 1/1,000,000 = 0.000001 = 10-6 F
  • Nanofarad (nF) 1nF = 1/1,000,000,000 = 0.000000001 = 10-9 F
  • Picofarad (pF) 1pF = 1/1,000,000,000,000 = 0.000000000001 = 10-12 F

Ø  Parallel Plate Capacitor

A parallel plate capacitor consists of two large plane parallel conducting plates separated by a small distance.

Ø  Combination of Capacitor

We can combine several capacitors of capacitance C1, C2,…, Cn to obtain a system with some effective capacitance C. Effective Capacitance depends on the way the individual capacitors are combined. Capacitors can be placed in two combinations such as Capacitors in Series and Capacitors in Parallel.

Hope to have solved your queries regarding the Electrostatic Potential And Capacitance. For a detailed explanation for such content keep visiting www.MSVgo.com!

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