Physics 201- Introduction to Electricity & Magnetism
September 23- Electrostatic Potentials

Electrostatic potential energy and work

The diagram show a top view of a positively charged rod.  Points, A, B, C, and D lie in a plane near the center of the rod.  Points B and C and equidistant from the rod, as are points A and D.

A particle with a positive charge +q travels along a straight line from point C to D.  Is the work done by the electric field (on the charged particle) positive, negative or zero?  Explain using a sketch that shows the electric force on the particle and the displacement of the particle.

What about if it travels from D to C?

What about travelling from D to A along the curved path shown in the handout?

What if we change the charge from +q to +1.7q?  How does the work done by the field change for the C to D and D to A paths?

How does the potential energy compare in each of the cases?

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 Jeff Phillips phillips@lmu.edu Loyola Marymount University Fall 2002