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Charges, voltage and current

Lecture 2

Atoms and electrons


-

Atoms are built up from


Positively charged nucleus
Negatively charged electrons
orbiting in shells (or more
accurately clouds or orbitals)

+
-

Negative charge = positive charge


so atoms are
NEUTRAL

Lecture 2

Electric charge
Electric charge is measured in Coulombs
(symbol C)
The charge on the electron is - 1.6021892 x 10-19 C
The charge on the proton is +1.6021892 x 10-19 C
usually referred to as e
This is a fundamental constant of our universe
The symbol that we use
for charge in equations is
usually
Q or q

Charles Augustin de
Coulomb
(1736 1806)
Published the inverse
square law of electrical
attraction
Lecture 2

Free charges
We can remove electrons from (some) atoms quite easily
Heating
The positively charged
Electrical sparks
atom left behind is called
Friction
an ion
Photo-electric effect
Separated electric charges have a very strong force between
them (the electrostatic force)
+
+
Like charges repel
+
Opposite charges attract
The force obeys the inverse square law

Lecture 2

Inverse square law

q1
+
-q1 -

q2
+

r
F

F =

+ +q2

q1 q2
4 0 r 2

Units: Newtons when charges are in


coulombs and distance in metres

0 (epsilon nought) is called the permittivity of free space and


is another fundamental constant of our universe which relates
electrostatic effects to force (and so to energy)
0 = 8.854188 x 10-12 C2 N-1m-2
Lecture 2

Inverse square law


F

q1
+
-q1 -

q2
+

r
F

F =

+ +q2

q1 q2
4 0 r 2

The force between two charges of 1 C separated by 1 metre:


F =

1
4 0

Newtons

approximately 9,000,000,000 N or 916,000 tonnes!!


The electrostatic force is by far the strongest physical force that
we normally experience and is responsible for all of the
macroscopic properties of matter
Lecture 2

Electric field
The electrostatic force can be expressed in terms of ELECTRIC
FIELD (symbol E)
A vector field surrounding charges with
magnitude proportional to the force on a point charge
direction in the direction of the force on a positive charge
(i.e. electric field arrows point towards NEGATIVE charges)

F = qE

(units of E for now, N C-1)

Lecture 2

Electric field surrounding point


charges
E
+

E (r ) =

q
4 0 r 2

Lecture 2

Moving electrons
A free electron in an electrostatic field experiences a force and so
it accelerates and gains kinetic energy.
The further it moves through the field, the more energy it gains.
v
v=0

Lecture 2

Moving electrons
v
v=0

In a uniform field, force is constant, so velocity increases like

v2 =

2 Eqd
m

1 2
mv = Eqd
2
The electron kinetic energy increases linearly with distance
along the electric field
Electronics is all about exploiting energetic electrons
Lecture 2

10

Direct application of fast electrons


the cathode ray tube
Colour TV or monitor tube
A. Electron gun
B. Glass vacuum envelope
C. Beam deflection and focusing
F. Phosphor screen

Carbon nanotubes for a modern Field-Emission Display

Small CRT e.g. for an oscilloscope

Lecture 2

11

Potential differences THE VOLT


K.E.
0

P.E. P.D.
5J
5V

++++
+ Q=1

1J

4J

4V

2J

3J

3V

3J

2J

2V

1J

1V

4J
E
5J

-----

A charge in an electric field has


POTENTIAL ENERGY
As it moves through the field it gains
KINETIC ENERGY
The increase in K.E. for a charge of 1 C is
called the POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE or
ELECTROMOTIVE FORCE (e.m.f.)

This is such an important parameter that it has its own unit


the VOLT (derived from J C-1)
Lecture 2

12

THE VOLT (symbol V)


A potential difference of
1 volt will give 1 joule
of kinetic energy to a
charge of 1 coulomb

Energy = QV

Alessandro Volta (1745-1827)


Credited with constructing the
first chemical battery
Lecture 2

13

A demonstration Voltaic
pile from ~1825
Two dry piles, insulated
with sulphur

The metal ball suspended


on a silk thread alternately
charges + and and
oscillates between the bells
Claimed to be the worlds
most durable battery
(Guinness Book of
Records) or (popularly) a
perpetual motion machine!

Clarendon Laboratory
Museum, Oxford

Lecture 2

14

An analogy
P.E. = mgh

who?

K.E.
0

P.E. P.D.
5J
5V

++++
+ Q=1

1J

4J

4V

2J

3J

3V

3J

2J

2V

1J

1V

F=EQ

4J
F=mg

E
5J

-----

K.E. = mv2

A charged particle moving in an electric field has exactly the


same dynamics as a mass falling under gravity
Lecture 2

15

A new definition for electric field


We can now define electric field in terms of VOLTAGE
Remember that
Field is Force per unit charge
(newtons per coulomb)
Voltage is energy per unit charge (joules per coulomb)
Energy is Force x Distance
(joules = newton.metres)
so Voltage = Field x distance
Field = Voltage / distance:
+V

E=V/l

Units V m-1

In a uniform field, E=-V/l,


In a non-uniform field,

V=-El

E (l ) =

dV
dl

Lecture 2

V = E (l )dl
0

16

Current
Moving charged particles transport charge from one point
to another
The rate of charge transport across any surface is called the
CURRENT [symbol in equations i or I, unit Ampres (A)]
If N particles of charge q
cross a surface in time t, the
current is given by
i=

Nq
Ampres
t

The early experimenters got it wrong. Current is carried by electrons and so


we have to remember that current flow is OPPOSITE to electron flow.
Electrons: Negative to Positive
Current: Positive to Negative
Lecture 2

Statue in Lyon

17

Andr-Marie Ampre (1775-1836)


Investigated the magnetic effects
of electric currents
Lecture 2

18

Current and charge


In practice, the flow of charge carrying particles is not constant
with time so we have to use a differential definition for the
instantaneous current at a particular time t:

dq
i (t ) =
dt

where dq is the small amount of


charge (C) which flows in the small
time from t to t+dt (sec).

To get the total charge that has flowed


in a particular time period we need to
integrate the current:

t2

Q = i (t )dt
t1

If current is constant, charge=current x time


current = charge/time
Lecture 2

19

Current flow and power


Moving electrons carry ENERGY as well as charge, and so an
electric current has POWER (rate of arrival of energy)
[symbol in equations P, unit Watt = 1 Joule per second, W]
Similarly to current we can define the power as

P(t ) =

dE
dt

where dE is the small amount of energy


crossing our surface between t and t+dt

We already know that the energy of a particle of charge q


coulombs with voltage V volts is qV joules, so

P(t ) = Vi (t )
Lecture 2

watts = volts x amps


20

10

James Watt (1736-1819)


Scottish engineer most famous
for the development of steam
power he was the first to use
the term horse-power

Lecture 2

21

Active and passive components


+V

+V
I

Passive:
Current flow is in the direction
of the voltage (+ to -)
Power is absorbed from the
current by the components and
transferred to the surroundings

Active:
Current flow is in the OPPOSITE
direction to the voltage (- to +)
Power is absorbed from the
surrounding by the components and
transferred to the current flow
Lecture 2

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