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Voltage (Electric Potential)
If the path by which charged particles follow an electric field does not matter, such as for
electrons in an electrical circuit, it would be more convenient to have a nonvector
quantity that essentially indicates how much potential there is for charged particles to be
pushed around. The physics quantity meeting this description is often referred to as
electric potential
, but most of us are more familiar with the term
voltage
, and this avoids
the risk of confusing it with
electric potential energy
, which is not the same thing at all.
Obviously voltage must be closely related to the electric field. The simple equation for
finding the electric field from a linear voltage is
E=V/
l
, but the precise equation is a
derivative (
!
E
=
!
ˆ
x
dV
/
dx
) and voltage is a scalar while electric field is a vector. The
true equation, then, for finding voltage from electric field intensity is not
V=E
l
, but
V
=
!
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This note was uploaded on 04/05/2012 for the course PHYS 131 taught by Professor Tibbets during the Spring '11 term at Cuyamaca College.
 Spring '11
 Tibbets
 Charge, Electric Potential

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