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CONCEPTUAL PROBLEMS

Chapters covered :
Electric charges and fields
Electrostatic potential and Capacitance
Current Electricity

1. Explain the underlying principle for the working of a parallel plate
capacitor.
Ans. The principle of capacitor is based on the fact that the potential
of a conductor is greatly reduced and its capacity is increased without
affecting the electric charge in it by placing another earth connected
conductor or an oppositely charged conductor in its neighborhood. This
arrangement is therefore able to store electric charge.
2. What is the physical significance of lim q>0?
Ans. Taking lim q>0 signifies that the presence of small electric field
does not affect the existing electric field.
3. How does the flux of a sphere change with increase in its size?
Ans. There wont be any change in flux. Because it does not depend on
radius.
4. Define dielectric constant of a medium. Why does the capacitance
of a parallel plate capacitor increases by introducing a dielectric
medium in between the plates?
Ans. The dielectric constant is the ratio of the permittivity of a
substance to the permittivity of free space. The molecules of the
dielectric material are readily polarized by the electric field between
the capacitor plates. Polarized molecules have a distorted charge
distribution that gives opposite 'ends' of the molecules an opposite
charge. These charge distributions are aligned by the capacitor field
and create their own induced electric field.
This induced field is opposite in direction to the original field. As a
consequence the net field strength between the plates is reduced
enabling more separated charge to be stored for the same capacitor pd
(V) - hence the capacitance has been increased. (C = Q/V)
5. Why does the electric field inside a dielectric decrease when it is
placed in an external electric field?
Ans. If a material contains polar molecules, they will generally be in
random orientations when no electric field is applied. An applied
electric field will polarize the material by orienting the dipole moment
of polar molecules. This decreases the effective electric field between
the plates.
6. Draw V-I graph for ohmic and non-ohmic materials. Give one example
of each.
Ans. For ohmic materials, the graph follows a linear trend.
Eg: Nickel, Copper


For non-ohmic materials, the graph shows a gradual curved slope.
Eg: Thermistor, Diode

7. Using a suitable diagram, show that an electric dipole held in a
uniform electric field does not undergo any translatory motion.
Ans.
Consider a dipole of length 2a and constituting of charges +q and -q.
Let the dipole be kept in a uniform electric field of magnitude E as
shown in the figure.
Force on +q due to the electric field,
F = +qE --------------(1)

Force on -q due to the electric field,
F = -qE ---------------(2)
From (1) and (2), it is clear that net force on the dipole
F=+qE + -qE
F=0
Thus net force on the dipole is zero.
Hence it does not undergo translatory motion.
8. State the principle of a potentiometer.
Ans. The potential difference across any length of a wire of uniform
cross-section and uniform composition is proportional to its length
when a constant current flows through it.
9. How can the sensitivity of a potentiometer be increased?
Ans. It can be achieved by :-
1) Increasing the length of potentiometer wire.
2) If the potentiometer wire is of fixed length, the potential gradient
can be decreased by reducing the current in the potentiometer wire
circuit with the help of rheostat.
10. Why cannot an electrostatic field line be discontinuous?
Ans. The electric lines of force are discontinuous. The lines of force
diverge out from a positively charged body. These lines of force are
supposed to end at a negative induced charge on the surroundings. If
the body is negatively charged, then the lines of force are directed
towards the body.
11. Define the term temperature coefficient of resistivity.
Ans. A ratio of increased conductor resistance per degree Celsius rise
in temperature. Most metals increase in resistance as temperature
increases, giving them a positive temperature coefficient.
12. How does a capacitor store energy on charging?
Ans. Storing energy on the capacitor involves doing work to transport
charge from one plate of the capacitor to the other against the
electrical forces. As the charge builds up in the charging process, each
successive element of charge dq requires more work to force it onto
the positive plate. Summing these continuously changing quantities
requires an integral.

13. With respect to Gausss theorem for a uniformly charged sphere,
draw the field lines when the charge density of the sphere is (i)
positive (ii) negative
Ans. (i) When the charge density of sphere is +ve


(ii) When the charge density of sphere is ve

14. Can two equipotential surfaces intersect each other? Give reasons.
Ans. If two equipotential surfaces intersect each other, that would
mean that you have a point in plane where there are two (or generally
more) values of potential, which is physically impossible.
15. Draw a graph of electric field E(r) with distance r from the center
of the shell for 0<=r<=infinity.
Ans.

16. In which orientation, a dipole placed in a uniform electric field is in
(i) stable (ii) unstable equilibrium?
Ans. (i) As we keep the dipole with its dipole moment along the
direction of the electric field then it will be in stable equilibrium. i.e.
=0
(ii) If we keep the same dipole inverted i.e. its dipole moment opposite
to the external field then the dipole will be in unstable equilibrium. i.e.,
=180
17. Depict the equipotential surface for a system of two identical
positive point charges placed a distance d apart.

18. Write the factors on which the internal resistance of a cell
depends.
Ans. Factors affecting Internal Resistance of a cell:
i) Larger the separation between the electrodes of the cell, more the
length of the electrolyte through which current has to flow and
consequently a higher value of internal resistance.
ii) Greater the conductivity of the electrolyte, lesser is the internal
resistance of the cell. i.e. internal resistance depends on the nature of
the electrolyte.
iii) The internal resistance of a cell is inversely proportional to the
common area of the electrodes dipping in the electrolyte.
iv) The internal resistance of a cell depends on the nature of the
electrodes.
19. Why must electrostatic field be normal to the surface at every
point of a charged conductor?
Ans. Charged surfaces align themselves perpendicularly relative
to electric fields to achieve electrostatic equilibrium. If charges are
not distributed as such, they will exert net force upon one another,
which will move them. In such an instance, the charges will not be
at static equilibrium.
20. When electrons drift in a metal from a lower to higher potential,
does it mean that all the free electrons of the metal are moving in the
same direction?
Ans. No. When electric field is applied, the electrons will have net
drift from lower to higher field but locally electrons may collide with
ions and may change its direction of motion.
21. Is there any restriction on the upper limit of the high voltages set
up in Van de Graff generator? Explain.
Ans. One limit on the maximum voltage that a Van de Graaff generator
can reach is when the electric field strength at the surface of the
sphere exceeds the breakdown for the insulating gas it is immersed in.
22. Why are the connections between the resistors in a meter bridge
made of thick copper strips?
Ans. The specific resistance of copper is small, thus when current
flows through the copper wire heat generated will be less and energy
losses will be reduced.
23. Why is it generally preferred to obtain the balance point in the
middle of the meter bridge wire?
Ans. Meter bridge is based on the principle of Wheatstone bridge.
When null point is obtained in the middle the ratio arms resistances is
of the same order and sensitivity of potentiometer is maximum.
24. Which material is used for the meter bridge and why?
Ans. Normally we use Manganin or Constantan because they have high
specific resistance.
Specific resistance is same as the resistivity.
25. What is the geometrical shape of equipotential surfaces due to a
single isolated charge?
Ans. They are in the shape of concentric spherical surfaces.
26. The emf of a cell is always greater than its terminal voltage. Why?
Ans. Terminal potential difference is less than emf because when the
cell is sending charge around the closed circuit, the electrolyte
between cell electrodes bearing some finite resistance(internal
resistance), opposes the flow of ionic current inside the cell due to
which there is some potential drop inside the cell (equal to Ir).
Therefore a part of electromotive force is lost inside the cell, the
remaining electromotive force (called terminal p.d) is equal to the
potential drop across external resistor (IR)
In case when no current is drawn from the cell (in open circuit), the
terminal p.d. is equal to the emf.
27. Write two possible causes for one sided deflection in a
potentiometer experiment.
Ans. 1-The emf of the cell connected in main circuit may not be more
than the emf of the primary cells whose emf's are to be compared.
2-The positive ends of all cells are not connected to the same end of
the wire.