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Jackson 1.

8 Homework Problem Solution


Dr. Christopher S. Baird
University of Massachusetts Lowell

PROBLEM:
(a) For the three capacitor geometries in Problem 1.6 calculate the total electrostatic energy and express
it alternatively in terms of the equal and opposite charges Q and -Q placed on the conductors and the
potential difference between them.

(b) Sketch the energy density of the electrostatic field in each case as a function of the appropriate
linear coordinate.

SOLUTION:
(a) For a simple capacitor, the total energy is given by W = QV. In problem 1.6, we found the
following results.
Qd Q
Parallel plates capacitor: V = and E=
A 0 A 0

1 Q
Concentric spheres capacitor: V =
Q
( ) and
1 1

4 0 a b
E=
4 0 r 2

Q
Concentric cylinders capacitor: V =
Q
2 0 L
ln()
b
a
and E=
2 r 0 L

It is straight-forward to substitute these equations into the energy equation and find the following:

Q2 d V 2 A 0
Parallel plates capacitor: W = and W =
2 A 0 2d

Q2 1 1 V 2 2 0 a b
Concentric spheres capacitor: W = ( )

8 0 a b
and W =
ba

2
V 2 0 L
Concentric cylinders capacitor: W =
Q
4 0 L
ln
b
a () and W =
ln ( b/a )

(b) The energy density is defined as w= 2 E 2 . A simple substitution of the fields found in problem 1.6
0

reveals:
w

Q2 /20 A2
Parallel plates capacitor:

2
Q
w= 2 0 z
2 0 A 0 d

w
Q2 /32 2 0 a 4
Concentric spheres capacitor:

2
Q
w= 2
r 4 Q2 /32 2 0 b 4
32 0
0 z
0 a b

Q2 /8 2 0 L2 a 2
Concentric cylinders capacitor:

Q2 Q2 /8 2 0 L2 b 2
w= 2 2
r 2
8 0 L
0 z
0 a b