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Physics Lab: Electric Field Lines Essay

In this lab we will study the equipotential lines in an electric field in order to study the structure of the electric lines of force. We will plot the position of electric field lines in a given electric field using both a manual method and a computer software program. There is an electric field in any region where there is a force on an electric charge at rest. It is convenient to represent an electric field by the lines of force. The direction of the lines is the direction of the force on a positive electric charge in the field.

The electric field intensity at any point is the force that would be exerted on a positive test charge, +q, at that point. The electric field intensity is proportional to the number of electric lines of force per unit area. An equipotential line is a set of points that all have the same potential. Since there is no change in potential, no work is required to move a charge on an equipotential line; therefore there is no component of electric force along an equipotential line. Electric lines of force are always perpendicular to equipotential lines.


Applying Coulomb’s Law we have:

Fes=k (Q1Q2)/r2 (1)

The electric field that a test charge (q) experiences is defines as:

E=Fes/q (2)

d=1/ (Q / Q)^(1/2) -1 (3)


Part I: A field pattern template with two circular terminals was attached to the field mapping board. A 9V battery and a voltmeter were then attached to the mapping board with leads. A third lead was then connected to the top of the mapping board. A U-shaped probe was attached to the voltmeter and a piece of white paper was attached to the top of the mapping board. We then traced the board with the probe, marking the paper where the voltage is constant so that field lines could be drawn.

Part II: In this part of the examination of electric fields were examinedby using a computer simulation. To find how electric fields are affected , dipoles were given different values of charges, locations and the number charges that are in a system. Once theses were established the calculation for the electric filed was annualized by typing F this will then show the electric field lines. Once electric field lines plot potential surface was put calculated by clicking S and following the directions displace on the screen so that these could be compared to that of part I. Once that was done one could find the nulls where the electric field equals zero this is found by clicking N and then clicking on where it is expected for there to be a null and then take the value of the location of these given nulls. Voltage was also calculated by finding the electric field at various locations at various locations for a given system these are calculated by clicking on V and then entering the value of X at these given points.

Conclusion: This experiment adequately addressed the relationships between electric field magnitudes and electric potential. The experiment allowed computation of the electric field magnitude using the gathered data from the experiments. The experiment also showed how the different types of charges associated with the electric field produce very different electric field lines and electric potential lines.

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