A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s EquationsMaxwell’s Equations are four of the most influential equations in science: Gauss’sl...
A Student’s Guide toMaxwell’s Equations   DANIEL FLEISCH    Wittenberg University
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESSCambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São PauloCambridge University Pres...
Contents      Preface                                     page vii      Acknowledgments                                   ...
vi                             Contents3     Faraday’s law                                          583.1   The integral f...
PrefaceThis book has one purpose: to help you understand four of the mostinfluential equations in all of science. If you ne...
viii                              Prefaceinteractive format – which means that you’ll be able to view the entiresolution a...
AcknowledgmentsThis book is the result of a conversation with the great Ohio State radioastronomer John Kraus, who taught ...
1              Gauss’s law for electric fieldsIn Maxwell’s Equations, you’ll encounter two kinds of electric field: theelect...
2                   A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsIn other words, if you have a real or imaginary closed surface...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                                      3                                    ~ The electric fie...
4                         A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                    +                                 - ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       5Table 1.1. Electric field equations for simple objectsPoint charge (c...
6                      A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                                       The dot productWhen ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                        7                        ^                        n   The unit norma...
8                 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations          ~ ^          E n       The component of ~ normal to a ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                             9                        R                          S          ...
10                      A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                    R                         ~ n         ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                  11           (a)                                          (b)             ...
12               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equationsthe other. Thus, you must be concerned not only with the speed of...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                     13    H        ~  ^ da      SE    n           The electric flux through ...
14                  A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                                    (b)                   (c) ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                     15that originate in the box is not compensated by any incoming (negativ...
16                  A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                          qenc    The enclosed chargeIf you un...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                           17Dimensions         Terminology                  Symbol         ...
18                A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                   e0   The permittivity of free spaceThe consta...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       19                                            Dielectric             ...
20                  A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations     H         ~  ^ da ¼ qenc =e0 Applying Gauss’s law (integr...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                    21Example 1.2: Given the flux through a closed surface, find the enclosedc...
22                      A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                           R   The electric flux UE is S ~ ...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                              23               Z Z                                       Z  ...
24               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsSolution: Problems like this are best approached by considering t...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       25and, since the area of the curved side of the cylinder is 2prh, thi...
26               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsProblem: Use Gauss’s law to find the electric field at a distance r...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                   27                                       n                    Special    ...
28               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equationsdensity times the volume of your Gaussian surface: qenc ¼ ð4=3Þpr...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                        29            1.2 The differential form of Gauss’s lawThe integral f...
30                 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations   To help you understand the meaning of each symbol in the dif...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       31                      ~                      r    Nabla – the del o...
32               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations                    ~                    r     Del dot – the dive...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       33(a)                (b)                               (c)      4    ...
34                 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations  You can now apply this to the vector fields in Figure 1.13. In...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                                    35and                                                  @...
36               A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations            ~ E            r  ~ The divergence of the electric fie...
Gauss’s law for electric fields                       37   It is worth your time to make sure you understand the significanc...
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)

1,437 views
1,361 views

Published on

Published in: Technology, Education
0 Comments
2 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,437
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
109
Comments
0
Likes
2
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

[Daniel fleisch] a_student's_guide_to_maxwell's_eq(book_fi.org)

  1. 1. A Student’s Guide to Maxwell’s EquationsMaxwell’s Equations are four of the most influential equations in science: Gauss’slaw for electric fields, Gauss’s law for magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, and theAmpere–Maxwell law. In this guide for students, each equation is the subject ofan entire chapter, with detailed, plain-language explanations of the physicalmeaning of each symbol in the equation, for both the integral and differentialforms. The final chapter shows how Maxwell’s Equations may be combined toproduce the wave equation, the basis for the electromagnetic theory of light. This book is a wonderful resource for undergraduate and graduate courses inelectromagnetism and electromagnetics. A website hosted by the author, andavailable through www.cambridge.org/9780521877619, contains interactivesolutions to every problem in the text. Entire solutions can be viewedimmediately, or a series of hints can be given to guide the student to the finalanswer. The website also contains audio podcasts which walk students througheach chapter, pointing out important details and explaining key concepts.da n i e l fl eis ch is Associate Professor in the Department of Physics atWittenberg University, Ohio. His research interests include radar cross-sectionmeasurement, radar system analysis, and ground-penetrating radar. He is amember of the American Physical Society (APS), the American Association ofPhysics Teachers (AAPT), and the Institute of Electrical and ElectronicsEngineers (IEEE).
  2. 2. A Student’s Guide toMaxwell’s Equations DANIEL FLEISCH Wittenberg University
  3. 3. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESSCambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São PauloCambridge University PressThe Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UKPublished in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New Yorkwww.cambridge.orgInformation on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521877619© D. Fleisch 2008This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision ofrelevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take placewithout the written permission of Cambridge University Press.First published in print format 2008ISBN-13 978-0-511-39308-2 eBook (EBL)ISBN-13 978-0-521-87761-9 hardbackCambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of urlsfor external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does notguarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
  4. 4. Contents Preface page vii Acknowledgments ix1 Gauss’s law for electric fields 11.1 The integral form of Gauss’s law 1 The electric field 3 The dot product 6 The unit normal vector 7 ~ The component of E normal to a surface 8 The surface integral 9 The flux of a vector field 10 The electric flux through a closed surface 13 The enclosed charge 16 The permittivity of free space 18 Applying Gauss’s law (integral form) 201.2 The differential form of Gauss’s law 29 Nabla – the del operator 31 Del dot – the divergence 32 The divergence of the electric field 36 Applying Gauss’s law (differential form) 382 Gauss’s law for magnetic fields 432.1 The integral form of Gauss’s law 43 The magnetic field 45 The magnetic flux through a closed surface 48 Applying Gauss’s law (integral form) 502.2 The differential form of Gauss’s law 53 The divergence of the magnetic field 54 Applying Gauss’s law (differential form) 55 v
  5. 5. vi Contents3 Faraday’s law 583.1 The integral form of Faraday’s law 58 The induced electric field 62 The line integral 64 The path integral of a vector field 65 The electric field circulation 68 The rate of change of flux 69 Lenz’s law 71 Applying Faraday’s law (integral form) 723.2 The differential form of Faraday’s law 75 Del cross – the curl 76 The curl of the electric field 79 Applying Faraday’s law (differential form) 804 The Ampere–Maxwell law 834.1 The integral form of the Ampere–Maxwell law 83 The magnetic field circulation 85 The permeability of free space 87 The enclosed electric current 89 The rate of change of flux 91 Applying the Ampere–Maxwell law (integral form) 954.2 The differential form of the Ampere–Maxwell law 101 The curl of the magnetic field 102 The electric current density 105 The displacement current density 107 Applying the Ampere–Maxwell law (differential form) 1085 From Maxwell’s Equations to the wave equation 112 The divergence theorem 114 Stokes’ theorem 116 The gradient 119 Some useful identities 120 The wave equation 122 Appendix: Maxwell’s Equations in matter 125 Further reading 131 Index 132
  6. 6. PrefaceThis book has one purpose: to help you understand four of the mostinfluential equations in all of science. If you need a testament to thepower of Maxwell’s Equations, look around you – radio, television,radar, wireless Internet access, and Bluetooth technology are a fewexamples of contemporary technology rooted in electromagnetic fieldtheory. Little wonder that the readers of Physics World selected Maxwell’sEquations as “the most important equations of all time.” How is this book different from the dozens of other texts on electricityand magnetism? Most importantly, the focus is exclusively on Maxwell’sEquations, which means you won’t have to wade through hundreds ofpages of related topics to get to the essential concepts. This leaves roomfor in-depth explanations of the most relevant features, such as the dif-ference between charge-based and induced electric fields, the physicalmeaning of divergence and curl, and the usefulness of both the integraland differential forms of each equation. You’ll also find the presentation to be very different from that of otherbooks. Each chapter begins with an “expanded view” of one of Maxwell’sEquations, in which the meaning of each term is clearly called out. Ifyou’ve already studied Maxwell’s Equations and you’re just looking for aquick review, these expanded views may be all you need. But if you’re abit unclear on any aspect of Maxwell’s Equations, you’ll find a detailedexplanation of every symbol (including the mathematical operators) inthe sections following each expanded view. So if you’re not sure of the ~ ^meaning of E n in Gauss’s Law or why it is only the enclosed currentsthat contribute to the circulation of the magnetic field, you’ll want to readthose sections. As a student’s guide, this book comes with two additional resourcesdesigned to help you understand and apply Maxwell’s Equations: aninteractive website and a series of audio podcasts. On the website, you’llfind the complete solution to every problem presented in the text in vii
  7. 7. viii Prefaceinteractive format – which means that you’ll be able to view the entiresolution at once, or ask for a series of helpful hints that will guide you tothe final answer. And if you’re the kind of learner who benefits fromhearing spoken words rather than just reading text, the audio podcasts arefor you. These MP3 files walk you through each chapter of the book,pointing out important details and providing further explanations of keyconcepts. Is this book right for you? It is if you’re a science or engineeringstudent who has encountered Maxwell’s Equations in one of your text-books, but you’re unsure of exactly what they mean or how to use them.In that case, you should read the book, listen to the accompanyingpodcasts, and work through the examples and problems before taking astandardized test such as the Graduate Record Exam. Alternatively, ifyou’re a graduate student reviewing for your comprehensive exams, thisbook and the supplemental materials will help you prepare. And if you’re neither an undergraduate nor a graduate science student,but a curious young person or a lifelong learner who wants to know moreabout electric and magnetic fields, this book will introduce you to thefour equations that are the basis for much of the technology you useevery day. The explanations in this book are written in an informal style in whichmathematical rigor is maintained only insofar as it doesn’t get in the wayof understanding the physics behind Maxwell’s Equations. You’ll findplenty of physical analogies – for example, comparison of the flux ofelectric and magnetic fields to the flow of a physical fluid. James ClerkMaxwell was especially keen on this way of thinking, and he was carefulto point out that analogies are useful not because the quantities are alikebut because of the corresponding relationships between quantities. Soalthough nothing is actually flowing in a static electric field, you’re likelyto find the analogy between a faucet (as a source of fluid flow) andpositive electric charge (as the source of electric field lines) very helpful inunderstanding the nature of the electrostatic field. One final note about the four Maxwell’s Equations presented in thisbook: it may surprise you to learn that when Maxwell worked out his theoryof electromagnetism, he ended up with not four but twenty equations thatdescribe the behavior of electric and magnetic fields. It was Oliver Heavisidein Great Britain and Heinrich Hertz in Germany who combined and sim-plified Maxwell’s Equations into four equations in the two decades afterMaxwell’s death. Today we call these four equations Gauss’s law for electricfields, Gauss’s law for magnetic fields, Faraday’s law, and the Ampere–Maxwell law. Since these four laws are now widely defined as Maxwell’sEquations, they are the ones you’ll find explained in the book.
  8. 8. AcknowledgmentsThis book is the result of a conversation with the great Ohio State radioastronomer John Kraus, who taught me the value of plain explanations.Professor Bill Dollhopf of Wittenberg University provided helpful sug-gestions on the Ampere–Maxwell law, and postdoc Casey Miller of theUniversity of Texas did the same for Gauss’s law. The entire manuscriptwas reviewed by UC Berkeley graduate student Julia Kregenow andWittenberg undergraduate Carissa Reynolds, both of whom made sig-nificant contributions to the content as well as the style of this work.Daniel Gianola of Johns Hopkins University and Wittenberg graduateMelanie Runkel helped with the artwork. The Maxwell Foundation ofEdinburgh gave me a place to work in the early stages of this project, andCambridge University made available their extensive collection of JamesClerk Maxwell’s papers. Throughout the development process, Dr. JohnFowler of Cambridge University Press has provided deft guidance andpatient support. ix
  9. 9. 1 Gauss’s law for electric fieldsIn Maxwell’s Equations, you’ll encounter two kinds of electric field: theelectrostatic field produced by electric charge and the induced electric fieldproduced by a changing magnetic field. Gauss’s law for electric fieldsdeals with the electrostatic field, and you’ll find this law to be a powerfultool because it relates the spatial behavior of the electrostatic field to thecharge distribution that produces it. 1.1 The integral form of Gauss’s lawThere are many ways to express Gauss’s law, and although notationdiffers among textbooks, the integral form is generally written like this: I ~ ^ da ¼ qenc Gauss’s law for electric fields (integral form). E n S e0The left side of this equation is no more than a mathematical descriptionof the electric flux – the number of electric field lines – passing through aclosed surface S, whereas the right side is the total amount of chargecontained within that surface divided by a constant called the permittivityof free space. If you’re not sure of the exact meaning of ‘‘field line’’ or ‘‘electric flux,’’don’t worry – you can read about these concepts in detail later in thischapter. You’ll also find several examples showing you how to useGauss’s law to solve problems involving the electrostatic field. Forstarters, make sure you grasp the main idea of Gauss’s law: Electric charge produces an electric field, and the flux of that field passing through any closed surface is proportional to the total charge contained within that surface. 1
  10. 10. 2 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsIn other words, if you have a real or imaginary closed surface of any sizeand shape and there is no charge inside the surface, the electric fluxthrough the surface must be zero. If you were to place some positivecharge anywhere inside the surface, the electric flux through the surfacewould be positive. If you then added an equal amount of negative chargeinside the surface (making the total enclosed charge zero), the flux wouldagain be zero. Remember that it is the net charge enclosed by the surfacethat matters in Gauss’s law. To help you understand the meaning of each symbol in the integralform of Gauss’s law for electric fields, here’s an expanded view: Reminder that the Dot product tells you to find The amount of electric field is a ˆ the part of E parallel to n charge in coulombs vector (perpendicular to the surface) Reminder that this The unit vector normal Reminder that only integral is over a to the surface the enclosed charge qenc ∫E closed surface contributes n da = ˆ S 0 The electric An increment of The electric field in N/C surface area in m2 permittivity Tells you to sum up the of the free space contributions from each Reminder that this is a surface portion of the surface integral (not a volume or a line integral)How is Gauss’s law useful? There are two basic types of problems thatyou can solve using this equation:(1) Given information about a distribution of electric charge, you can find the electric flux through a surface enclosing that charge.(2) Given information about the electric flux through a closed surface, you can find the total electric charge enclosed by that surface.The best thing about Gauss’s law is that for certain highly symmetricdistributions of charges, you can use it to find the electric field itself,rather than just the electric flux over a surface. Although the integral form of Gauss’s law may look complicated, it iscompletely understandable if you consider the terms one at a time. That’sexactly what you’ll find in the following sections, starting with ~ the E,electric field.
  11. 11. Gauss’s law for electric fields 3 ~ The electric field ETo understand Gauss’s law, you first have to understand the concept ofthe electric field. In some physics and engineering books, no direct def-inition of the electric field is given; instead you’ll find a statement that anelectric field is ‘‘said to exist’’ in any region in which electrical forces act.But what exactly is an electric field? This question has deep philosophical significance, but it is not easy toanswer. It was Michael Faraday who first referred to an electric ‘‘field offorce,’’ and James Clerk Maxwell identified that field as the space aroundan electrified object – a space in which electric forces act. The common thread running through most attempts to define theelectric field is that fields and forces are closely related. So here’s a verypragmatic definition: an electric field is the electrical force per unit chargeexerted on a charged object. Although philosophers debate the truemeaning of the electric field, you can solve many practical problems bythinking of the electric field at any location as the number of newtons ofelectrical force exerted on each coulomb of charge at that location. Thus,the electric field may be defined by the relation ~ ~ Fe ; E ð1:1Þ q0where ~e is the electrical force on a small1 charge q0 . This definition Fmakes clear two important characteristics of the electric field:(1) ~ is a vector quantity with magnitude directly proportional to force E and with direction given by the direction of the force on a positive test charge.(2) ~ has units of newtons per coulomb (N/C), which are the same as E volts per meter (V/m), since volts ¼ newtons · meters/coulombs.In applying Gauss’s law, it is often helpful to be able to visualize theelectric field in the vicinity of a charged object. The most commonapproaches to constructing a visual representation of an electric field areto use a either arrows or ‘‘field lines’’ that point in the direction ofthe field at each point in space. In the arrow approach, the strength of thefield is indicated by the length of the arrow, whereas in the field line1 Why do physicists and engineers always talk about small test charges? Because the job of this charge is to test the electric field at a location, not to add another electric field into the mix (although you can’t stop it from doing so). Making the test charge infinitesimally small minimizes the effect of the test charge’s own field.
  12. 12. 4 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations + - Positive point charge Negative point charge Infinite line of positive charge Infinite plane of Positively charged Electric dipole with negative charge conducting sphere positive charge on left Figure 1.1 Examples of electric fields. Remember that these fields exist inthree dimensions; full three-dimensional (3-D) visualizations are available on the book’s website.approach, it is the spacing of the lines that tells you the field strength(with closer lines signifying a stronger field). When you look at a drawingof electric field lines or arrows, be sure to remember that the field existsbetween the lines as well. Examples of several electric fields relevant to the application of Gauss’slaw are shown in Figure 1.1. Here are a few rules of thumb that will help you visualize and sketchthe electric fields produced by charges2: Electric field lines must originate on positive charge and terminate on negative charge. The net electric field at any point is the vector sum of all electric fields present at that point. Electric field lines can never cross, since that would indicate that the field points in two different directions at the same location (if two or more different sources contribute electric fields pointing in different directions at the same location, the total electric field is the vector sum2 In Chapter 3, you can read about electric fields produced not by charges but by changing magnetic fields. That type of field circulates back on itself and does not obey the same rules as electric fields produced by charge.
  13. 13. Gauss’s law for electric fields 5Table 1.1. Electric field equations for simple objectsPoint charge (charge ¼ q) ~ ¼ 1 q ^ (at distance r from q) E r 4pe0 r 2Conducting sphere (charge ¼ Q) ~ ¼ 1 Q ^ (outside, distance r from E r 4pe0 r 2 center) ~ ¼ 0 (inside) EUniformly charged insulating ~ ¼ 1 Q ^ (outside, distance r from E r sphere (charge ¼ Q, radius ¼ r0) 4pe0 r 2 center) ~ ¼ 1 Qr ^ (inside, distance r from E r 3 4pe0 r0 center)Infinite line charge (linear ~ ¼ 1 k ^ (distance r from line) E r charge density ¼ k) 2pe0 rInfinite flat plane (surface ~¼ r ^ E n charge density ¼ r) 2e0 of the individual fields, and the electric field lines always point in the single direction of the total field). Electric field lines are always perpendicular to the surface of a conductor in equilibrium. Equations for the electric field in the vicinity of some simple objectsmay be found in Table 1.1. So exactly what does the ~ in Gauss’s law represent? It represents the Etotal electric field at each point on the surface under consideration. The sur-face may be real or imaginary, as you’ll see when you read about themeaning of the surface integral in Gauss’s law. But first you should considerthe dot product and unit normal that appear inside the integral.
  14. 14. 6 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations The dot productWhen you’re dealing with an equation that contains a multiplicationsymbol (a circle or a cross), it is a good idea to examine the terms onboth sides of that symbol. If they’re printed in bold font or are wearingvector hats (as are ~ and ^ in Gauss’s law), the equation involves vector E nmultiplication, and there are several different ways to multiply vectors(quantities that have both magnitude and direction). In Gauss’s law, the circle between ~ and ^ represents the dot product E n(or ‘‘scalar product’’) between the electric field vector ~ and the unit Enormal vector ^ (discussed in the next section). If you know the Cartesian ncomponents of each vector, you can compute this as ~ ~ ¼ A x Bx þ Ay By þ Az Bz : A B ð1:2Þ Or, if you know the angle h between the vectors, you can use ~ ~ ¼ j~ ~ cos h; A B AjjBj ð1:3Þwhere j~ and j~ represent the magnitude (length) of the vectors. Notice Aj Bjthat the dot product between two vectors gives a scalar result. To grasp the physical significance of the dot product, consider vectors~ and ~ that differ in direction by angle h, as shown in Figure 1.2(a).A B For these vectors, the projection of ~ onto ~ is j~ cos h, as shown A B Ajin Figure 1.2(b). Multiplying this projection by the length of ~ gives Bj~ ~ cos h. Thus, the dot product ~ ~ represents the projection of ~ AjjBj A B A ~ multiplied by the length of ~ 3 The usefulness ofonto the direction of B B.this operation in Gauss’s law will become clear once you understand themeaning of the vector ^. n (a) A (b) A B B u u The projection of A onto B: |A| cos u multiplied by the length of B: 3|B| gives the dot product A B: |A||B|cos u Figure 1.2 The meaning of the dot product.3 You could have obtained the same result by finding the projection of ~ onto the direction B of ~ and then multiplying by the length of ~ A A.
  15. 15. Gauss’s law for electric fields 7 ^ n The unit normal vectorThe concept of the unit normal vector is straightforward; at any point on asurface, imagine a vector with length of one pointing in the direction per-pendicular to the surface. Such a vector, labeled ^, is called a ‘‘unit’’ vector nbecause its length is unity and ‘‘normal’’ because it is perpendicular to thesurface. The unit normal for a planar surface is shown in Figure 1.3(a). Certainly, you could have chosen the unit vector for the plane inFigure 1.3(a) to point in the opposite direction – there’s no fundamentaldifference between one side of an open surface and the other (recall thatan open surface is any surface for which it is possible to get from one sideto the other without going through the surface). For a closed surface (defined as a surface that divides space into an‘‘inside’’ and an ‘‘outside’’), the ambiguity in the direction of the unitnormal has been resolved. By convention, the unit normal vector for aclosed surface is taken to point outward – away from the volume enclosedby the surface. Some of the unit vectors for a sphere are shown in Figure1.3(b); notice that the unit normal vectors at the Earth’s North and SouthPole would point in opposite directions if the Earth were a perfect sphere. You should be aware that some authors use the notation d~ rather athan ^ da. In that notation, the unit normal is incorporated into the nvector area element d~ which has magnitude equal to the area da and a,direction along the surface normal ^. Thus d~ and ^ da serve the same n a npurpose. Figure 1.3 Unit normal vectors for planar and spherical surfaces.
  16. 16. 8 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations ~ ^ E n The component of ~ normal to a surface EIf you understand the dot product and unit normal vector, the meaning of~ ^ should be clear; this expression represents the component of theE nelectric field vector that is perpendicular to the surface under consideration. If the reasoning behind this statement isn’t apparent to you, recall thatthe dot product between two vectors such as ~ and ^ is simply the pro- E njection of the first onto the second multiplied by the length of the second.Recall also that by definition the length of the unit normal is one ðj^j ¼ 1), nso that ~ ^ ¼ j~ nj cos h ¼ j~ cos h; E n Ejj^ Ej ð1:4Þwhere h is the angle between the unit normal n and ~ This is the com- ^ E.ponent of the electric field vector perpendicular to the surface, as illus-trated in Figure 1.4. Thus, if h ¼ 90 , ~ is perpendicular to ^, which means that the electric E nfield is parallel to the surface, and ~ ^ ¼ j~ cosð90 Þ ¼ 0. So in this case E n Ejthe component of E ~ perpendicular to the surface is zero. Conversely, if h ¼ 0 , ~ is parallel to ^, meaning the electric field is E nperpendicular to the surface, and E n ~ ^ ¼ j~ cosð0 Þ ¼ j~ In this case, Ej Ej.the component of ~ perpendicular to the surface is the entire length of ~ E E. The importance of the electric field component normal to the surfacewill become clear when you consider electric flux. To do that, youshould make sure you understand the meaning of the surface integralin Gauss’s law. Component of E normal to surface is E ^ n ^ n E Surface Figure 1.4 Projection of ~ onto direction of ^. E n
  17. 17. Gauss’s law for electric fields 9 R S ðÞda The surface integralMany equations in physics and engineering – Gauss’s law among them –involve the area integral of a scalar function or vector field over a spe-cified surface (this type of integral is also called the ‘‘surface integral’’).The time you spend understanding this important mathematical oper-ation will be repaid many times over when you work problems inmechanics, fluid dynamics, and electricity and magnetism (EM). The meaning of the surface integral can be understood by considering athin surface such as that shown in Figure 1.5. Imagine that the areadensity (the mass per unit area) of this surface varies with x and y, andyou want to determine the total mass of the surface. You can do this bydividing the surface into two-dimensional segments over each of whichthe area density is approximately constant. For individual segments with area density ri and area dAi, the mass ofeach segment is ri dAi, and the mass of the entire surface of N segments is PNgiven by i¼1 ri dAi . As you can imagine, the smaller you make the areasegments, the closer this gets to the true mass, since your approximationof constant r is more accurate for smaller segments. If you let the seg-ment area dA approach zero and N approach infinity, the summationbecomes integration, and you have Z Mass ¼ rðx; yÞ dA: SThis is the area integral of the scalar function r(x, y) over the surface S. Itis simply a way of adding up the contributions of little pieces of afunction (the density in this case) to find a total quantity. To understandthe integral form of Gauss’s law, it is necessary to extend the concept ofthe surface integral to vector fields, and that’s the subject of the nextsection. Density approximately constant over each of these areas (dA1, dA2, . . . , dAN) Area density (s) varies across surface s1 s2 s3 sΝ y x Density = s(x,y) Mass = s1 dA1+ s2 dA2+ . . . + sN dAN. Figure 1.5 Finding the mass of a variable-density surface.
  18. 18. 10 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations R ~ n s A ^ da The flux of a vector fieldIn Gauss’s law, the surface integral is applied not to a scalar function(such as the density of a surface) but to a vector field. What’s a vectorfield? As the name suggests, a vector field is a distribution of quantities inspace – a field – and these quantities have both magnitude and direction,meaning that they are vectors. So whereas the distribution of temperaturein a room is an example of a scalar field, the speed and direction of theflow of a fluid at each point in a stream is an example of a vector field. The analogy of fluid flow is very helpful in understanding the meaningof the ‘‘flux’’ of a vector field, even when the vector field is static andnothing is actually flowing. You can think of the flux of a vector fieldover a surface as the ‘‘amount’’ of that field that ‘‘flows’’ through thatsurface, as illustrated in Figure 1.6. In the simplest case of a uniform vector field ~ and a surface S per- Apendicular to the direction of the field, the flux U is defined as the productof the field magnitude and the area of the surface: U ¼ j~ · surface area: Aj ð1:5ÞThis case is shown in Figure 1.6(a). Note that if ~ is perpendicular to the Asurface, it is parallel to the unit normal ^: n If the vector field is uniform but is not perpendicular to the surface, asin Figure 1.6(b), the flux may be determined simply by finding thecomponent of ~ perpendicular to the surface and then multiplying that Avalue by the surface area: U ¼ ~ ^ · ðsurface areaÞ: A n ð1:6Þ While uniform fields and flat surfaces are helpful in understanding theconcept of flux, many EM problems involve nonuniform fields andcurved surfaces. To work those kinds of problems, you’ll need tounderstand how to extend the concept of the surface integral to vectorfields. (a) (b) A n A n Figure 1.6 Flux of a vector field through a surface.
  19. 19. Gauss’s law for electric fields 11 (a) (b) ni Component of A perpendicular to this surface element is A ° ni u A A Surface S A Figure 1.7 Component of ~ perpendicular to surface. A Consider the curved surface and vector field ~ shown in Figure 1.7(a). AImagine that ~ represents the flow of a real fluid and S a porous mem- Abrane; later you’ll see how this applies to the flux of an electric fieldthrough a surface that may be real or purely imaginary. Before proceeding, you should think for a moment about how youmight go about finding the rate of flow of material through surface S.You can define ‘‘rate of flow’’ in a few different ways, but it will help toframe the question as ‘‘How many particles pass through the membraneeach second?’’ To answer this question, define ~ as the number density of the fluid A(particles per cubic meter) times the velocity of the flow (meters persecond). As the product of the number density (a scalar) and the velocity(a vector), ~ must be a vector in the same direction as the velocity, with Aunits of particles per square meter per second. Since you’re trying tofind the number of particles per second passing through the surface,dimensional analysis suggests that you multiply ~ by the area of the Asurface. But look again at Figure 1.7(a). The different lengths of the arrows aremeant to suggest that the flow of material is not spatially uniform,meaning that the speed may be higher or lower at various locationswithin the flow. This fact alone would mean that material flows throughsome portions of the surface at a higher rate than other portions, but youmust also consider the angle of the surface to the direction of flow. Anyportion of the surface lying precisely along the direction of flow willnecessarily have zero particles per second passing through it, since theflow lines must penetrate the surface to carry particles from one side to
  20. 20. 12 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equationsthe other. Thus, you must be concerned not only with the speed of flowand the area of each portion of the membrane, but also with the com-ponent of the flow perpendicular to the surface. Of course, you know how to find the component of ~ perpendicular Ato the surface; simply form the dot product of ~ and ^, the unit normal to A nthe surface. But since the surface is curved, the direction of ^ depends on nwhich part of the surface you’re considering. To deal with the different ^ n(and ~ at each location, divide the surface into small segments, as shown A)in Figure 1.7(b). If you make these segments sufficiently small, you canassume that both ^ and ~ are constant over each segment. n A Let ^i represent the unit normal for the ith segment (of area dai); the nflow through segment i is (~i ^i ) dai, and the total is A n P flow through entire surface ¼ ~i ^i dai : A n i It should come as no surprise that if you now let the size of eachsegment shrink to zero, the summation becomes integration. Z Flow through entire surface ¼ ~ ^ da: A n ð1:7Þ SFor a closed surface, the integral sign includes a circle: I ~ ^ da: A n ð1:8Þ SThis flow is the particle flux through a closed surface S, and the similarityto the left side of Gauss’s law is striking. You have only to replace thevector field ~ with the electric field ~ to make the expressions identical. A E
  21. 21. Gauss’s law for electric fields 13 H ~ ^ da SE n The electric flux through a closed surfaceOn the basis of the results of the previous section, you should understandthat the flux UE of vector field ~ through surface S can be determined Eusing the following equations: UE ¼ j~ · ðsurface areaÞ ~ is uniform and perpendicular to S; Ej E ð1:9Þ UE ¼ ~ ^ · ðsurface areaÞ ~ is uniform and at an angle to S; E n E ð1:10Þ Z UE ¼ ~ ^ da ~ is non-uniform and at a variable angle to S: ð1:11Þ E n E SThese relations indicate that electric flux is a scalar quantity and has unitsof electric field times area, or Vm. But does the analogy used in theprevious section mean that the electric flux should be thought of as a flowof particles, and that the electric field is the product of a density and avelocity? The answer to this question is ‘‘absolutely not.’’ Remember that whenyou employ a physical analogy, you’re hoping to learn something aboutthe relationships between quantities, not about the quantities themselves.So, you can find the electric flux by integrating the normal component ofthe electric field over a surface, but you should not think of the electricflux as the physical movement of particles. How should you think of electric flux? One helpful approach followsdirectly from the use of field lines to represent the electric field. Recallthat in such representations the strength of the electric field at any point isindicated by the spacing of the field lines at that location. More specif-ically, the electric field strength can be considered to be proportional tothe density of field lines (the number of field lines per square meter) in aplane perpendicular to the field at the point under consideration. Inte-grating that density over the entire surface gives the number of field linespenetrating the surface, and that is exactly what the expression forelectric flux gives. Thus, another way to define electric flux is electric flux ðUE Þ number of field lines penetrating surface.There are two caveats you should keep in mind when you think of electricflux as the number of electric field lines penetrating a surface. The first isthat field lines are only a convenient representation of the electric field,which is actually continuous in space. The number of field lines you
  22. 22. 14 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations (b) (c) (a) Zero net flux Positive flux Negative flux Figure 1.8 Flux lines penetrating closed surfaces.choose to draw for a given field is up to you, so long as you maintainconsistency between fields of different strengths – which means that fieldsthat are twice as strong must be represented by twice as many field linesper unit area. The second caveat is that surface penetration is a two-way street; oncethe direction of a surface normal ^ has been established, field line com- nponents parallel to that direction give a positive flux, while componentsin the opposite direction (antiparallel to ^) give a negative flux. Thus, a nsurface penetrated by five field lines in one direction (say from the topside to the bottom side) and five field lines in the opposite direction (frombottom to top) has zero flux, because the contributions from the twogroups of field lines cancel. So, you should think of electric flux as the netnumber of field lines penetrating the surface, with direction of penetra-tion taken into account. If you give some thought to this last point, you may come to animportant conclusion about closed surfaces. Consider the three boxesshown in Figure 1.8. The box in Figure 1.8(a) is penetrated only byelectric field lines that originate and terminate outside the box. Thus,every field line that enters must leave, and the flux through the box mustbe zero. Remembering that the unit normal for closed surfaces points awayfrom the enclosed volume, you can see that the inward flux (lines enteringthe box) is negative, since ~ ^ must be negative when the angle between E n~ and ^ is greater than 90 . This is precisely cancelled by the outward fluxE n(lines exiting the box), which is positive, since ~ ^ is positive when the E nangle between ~ and ^ is less than 90 . E n Now consider the box in Figure 1.8(b). The surfaces of this box arepenetrated not only by the field lines originating outside the box, but alsoby a group of field lines that originate within the box. In this case, the netnumber of field lines is clearly not zero, since the positive flux of the lines
  23. 23. Gauss’s law for electric fields 15that originate in the box is not compensated by any incoming (negative)flux. Thus, you can say with certainty that if the flux through any closedsurface is positive, that surface must contain a source of field lines. Finally, consider the box in Figure 1.8(c). In this case, some of the fieldlines terminate within the box. These lines provide a negative flux at thesurface through which they enter, and since they don’t exit the box, theircontribution to the net flux is not compensated by any positive flux.Clearly, if the flux through a closed surface is negative, that surface mustcontain a sink of field lines (sometimes referred to as a drain). Now recall the first rule of thumb for drawing charge-induced electricfield lines; they must originate on positive charge and terminate onnegative charge. So, the point from which the field lines diverge in Figure1.8(b) marks the location of some amount of positive charge, and thepoint to which the field lines converge in Figure 1.8(c) indicates theexistence of negative charge at that location. If the amount of charge at these locations were greater, there would bemore field lines beginning or ending on these points, and the flux throughthe surface would be greater. And if there were equal amounts of positiveand negative charge within one of these boxes, the positive (outward) fluxproduced by the positive charge would exactly cancel the negative(inward) flux produced by the negative charge. So, in this case the fluxwould be zero, just as the net charge contained within the box would bezero. You should now see the physical reasoning behind Gauss’s law: theelectric flux passing through any closed surface – that is, the number ofelectric field lines penetrating that surface – must be proportional to thetotal charge contained within that surface. Before putting this concept touse, you should take a look at the right side of Gauss’s law.
  24. 24. 16 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations qenc The enclosed chargeIf you understand the concept of flux as described in the previous section,it should be clear why the right side of Gauss’s law involves only theenclosed charge – that is, the charge within the closed surface over whichthe flux is determined. Simply put, it is because any charge located out-side the surface produces an equal amount of inward (negative) flux andoutward (positive) flux, so the net contribution to the flux through thesurface must be zero. How can you determine the charge enclosed by a surface? In someproblems, you’re free to choose a surface that surrounds a knownamount of charge, as in the situations shown in Figure 1.9. In each ofthese cases, the total charge within the selected surface can be easilydetermined from geometric considerations. For problems involving groups of discrete charges enclosed by surfacesof any shape, finding the total charge is simply a matter of adding theindividual charges. X Total enclosed charge ¼ qi : iWhile small numbers of discrete charges may appear in physics andengineering problems, in the real world you’re far more likely to encountercharged objects containing billions of charge carriers lined along a wire,slathered over a surface, or arrayed throughout a volume. In such cases,counting the individual charges is not practical – but you can determinethe total charge if you know the charge density. Charge density may bespecified in one, two, or three dimensions (1-, 2-, or 3-D). Point Charged Multiple charge line Charged point charges plane Enclosing enclosing pillbox Enclosing Enclosing cube sphere cylinder Figure 1.9 Surface enclosing known charges.
  25. 25. Gauss’s law for electric fields 17Dimensions Terminology Symbol Units1 Linear charge k C/m density2 Area charge density r C/m23 Volume charge q C/m3 densityIf these quantities are constant over the length, area, or volume underconsideration, finding the enclosed charge requires only a single multi-plication: 1-D : qenc ¼ k L ðL ¼ enclosed length of charged lineÞ; ð1:12Þ 2-D : qenc ¼ rA ðA ¼ enclosed area of charged surfaceÞ; ð1:13Þ 3-D : qenc ¼ qV ðV ¼ enclosed portion of charged volumeÞ: ð1:14Þ You are also likely to encounter situations in which the charge densityis not constant over the line, surface, or volume of interest. In such cases,the integration techniques described in the ‘‘Surface Integral’’ section ofthis chapter must be used. Thus, Z 1-D : qenc ¼ k dl where k varies along a line; ð1:15Þ L Z 2-D : qenc ¼ r da where r varies over a surface; ð1:16Þ S Z 3-D : qenc ¼ q dV where q varies over a volume: ð1:17Þ VYou should note that the enclosed charge in Gauss’s law for electric fieldsis the total charge, including both free and bound charge. You can readabout bound charge in the next section, and you’ll find a version ofGauss’s law that depends only on free charge in the Appendix. Once you’ve determined the charge enclosed by a surface of any sizeand shape, it is very easy to find the flux through that surface; simplydivide the enclosed charge by e0, the permittivity of free space. Thephysical meaning of that parameter is described in the next section.
  26. 26. 18 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations e0 The permittivity of free spaceThe constant of proportionality between the electric flux on the left sideof Gauss’s law and the enclosed charge on the right side is e0, thepermittivity of free space. The permittivity of a material determinesits response to an applied electric field – in nonconducting materials(called ‘‘insulators’’ or ‘‘dielectrics’’), charges do not move freely, butmay be slightly displaced from their equilibrium positions. The relevantpermittivity in Gauss’s law for electric fields is the permittivity of freespace (or ‘‘vacuum permittivity’’), which is why it carries the subscriptzero. The value of the vacuum permittivity in SI units is approximately8.85 · 10À12 coulombs per volt-meter (C/Vm); you will sometimes see theunits of permittivity given as farads per meter (F/m), or, more funda-mentally, (C2s2/kg m3). A more precise value for the permittivity of freespace is e0 ¼ 8.8541878176 · 10À12 C/Vm.Does the presence of this quantity mean that this form of Gauss’s law isonly valid in a vacuum? No, Gauss’s law as written in this chapter isgeneral, and applies to electric fields within dielectrics as well as those infree space, provided that you account for all of the enclosed charge,including charges that are bound to the atoms of the material. The effect of bound charges can be understood by considering whathappens when a dielectric is placed in an external electric field. Inside thedielectric material, the amplitude of the total electric field is generally lessthan the amplitude of the applied field. The reason for this is that dielectrics become ‘‘polarized’’ when placedin an electric field, which means that positive and negative charges aredisplaced from their original positions. And since positive charges aredisplaced in one direction (parallel to the applied electric field) andnegative charges are displaced in the opposite direction (antiparallel tothe applied field), these displaced charges give rise to their own electricfield that opposes the external field, as shown in Figure 1.10. This makesthe net field within the dielectric less than the external field. It is the ability of dielectric materials to reduce the amplitude of anelectric field that leads to their most common application: increasing thecapacitance and maximum operating voltage of capacitors. As youmay recall, the capacitance (ability to store charge) of a parallel-platecapacitor is
  27. 27. Gauss’s law for electric fields 19 Dielectric Induced No dielectric present field – + External – + electric field – + – + Displaced charges Figure 1.10 Electric field induced in a dielectric. eA C¼ ; dwhere A is the plate area, d is the plate separation, and e is the permittivityof the material between the plates. High-permittivity materials canprovide increased capacitance without requiring larger plate area ordecreased plate spacing. The permittivity of a dielectric is often expressed as the relative per-mittivity, which is the factor by which the material’s permittivity exceedsthat of free space: relative permittivity er ¼ e=e0 :Some texts refer to relative permittivity as ‘‘dielectric constant,’’ althoughthe variation in permittivity with frequency suggests that the word ‘‘con-stant’’ is better used elsewhere. The relative permittivity of ice, for example,changes from approximately 81 at frequencies below 1 kHz to less than 5 atfrequencies above 1 MHz. Most often, it is the low-frequency value ofpermittivity that is called the dielectric constant. One more note about permittivity; as you’ll see in Chapter 5, thepermittivity of a medium is a fundamental parameter in determining thespeed with which an electromagnetic wave propagates through thatmedium.
  28. 28. 20 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations H ~ ^ da ¼ qenc =e0 Applying Gauss’s law (integral form) sE nA good test of your understanding of an equation like Gauss’s law iswhether you’re able to solve problems by applying it to relevant situ-ations. At this point, you should be convinced that Gauss’s law relatesthe electric flux through a closed surface to the charge enclosed by thatsurface. Here are some examples of what can you actually do with thatinformation.Example 1.1: Given a charge distribution, find the flux through a closedsurface surrounding that charge.Problem: Five point charges are enclosed in a cylindrical surface S. If thevalues of the charges are q1 ¼ þ3 nC, q2 ¼ À2 nC, q3 ¼ þ2 nC, q4 ¼ þ4 nC,and q5 ¼ À1 nC, find the total flux through S. S q3 q5 q1 q2 q4Solution: From Gauss’s law, I UE ¼ ~ ^ da ¼ qenc : E n S e0For discrete charges, you know that the total charge is just the sum of theindividual charges. Thus, X qenc ¼ Total enclosed charge ¼ i qi ¼ ð3 À 2 þ 2 þ 4 À 1Þ · 10À9 C ¼ 6 · 10À9 Cand qenc 6 · 10À9 C UE ¼ ¼ ¼ 678 Vm: e0 8:85 · 10À12 C=VmThis is the total flux through any closed surface surrounding this group ofcharges.
  29. 29. Gauss’s law for electric fields 21Example 1.2: Given the flux through a closed surface, find the enclosedcharge.Problem: A line charge with linear charge density k ¼ 10À12 C/m passesthrough the center of a sphere. If the flux through the surface of thesphere is 1.13 · 10À3 Vm, what is the radius R of the sphere? Charged line L Sphere encloses portion of lineSolution: The charge on a line charge of length L is given by q ¼ kL. Thus, qenc kL UE ¼ ¼ ; e0 e0and U E e0 L¼ : kSince L is twice the radius of the sphere, this means U E e0 UE e0 2R ¼ or R ¼ : k 2kInserting the values for UE, e0 and k, you will find that R ¼ 5 · 10À3 m.Example 1.3: Find the flux through a section of a closed surface.Problem: A point source of charge q is placed at the center of curvature ofa spherical section that extends from spherical angle h1 to h2 and from u1to u2. Find the electric flux through the spherical section.Solution: Since the surface of interest in this problem is open, you’ll haveto find the electric flux by integrating the normal component of theelectric field over the surface. You can then check your answer usingGauss’s law by allowing the spherical section to form a complete spherethat encloses the point charge.
  30. 30. 22 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations R The electric flux UE is S ~ ^ da, where S is the spherical section of E n ~ is the electric field on the surface due to the point chargeinterest and Eat the center of curvature, a distance r from the section of interest.From Table 1.1, you know that the electric field at a distance r from apoint charge is ~ ¼ 1 q ^: E r 4pe0 r 2Before you can integrate this over the surface of interest, you have toconsider ~ ^ (that is, you must find the component of the electric field E nperpendicular to the surface). That is trivial in this case, because the unitnormal ^ for a spherical section points in the outward radial direction n(the ^ direction), as may be seen in Figure 1.11. This means that ~ and ^ r E nare parallel, and the flux is given by Z Z Z Z ~ ^ da ¼ 1 q UE ¼ E n j~ nj cosð0 Þ da ¼ Ejj^ j~ da ¼ Ej da: S S S S 4pe0 r 2Since you are integrating over a spherical section in this case, the logicalchoice for coordinate system is spherical. This makes the area element r2sin h dh dU, and the surface integral becomes rs da in u n r du u u df r sin du da = (rdu)(r sin udf) df f Figure 1.11 Geomentry of sperical section.
  31. 31. Gauss’s law for electric fields 23 Z Z Z Z 1 q 2 q UE ¼ r sin h dh df ¼ sin h dh df; h f 4pe0 r 2 4pe0 h fwhich is easily integrated to give q UE ¼ ðcos h1 À cos h2 Þðf2 À f1 Þ: 4pe0As a check on this result, take the entire sphere as the section (h1 ¼ 0,h2 ¼ p, u1 ¼ 0, and u2 ¼ 2p). This gives q q UE ¼ ð1 À ðÀ1ÞÞ ð2p À 0Þ ¼ ; 4pe0 e0exactly as predicted by Gauss’s law.Example 1.4: Given ~ over a surface, find the flux through the surface Eand the charge enclosed by the surface.Problem: The electric field at distance r from an infinite line charge withlinear charge density k is given in Table 1.1 as ~ ¼ 1 k ^: E r 2pe0 r r hUse this expression to find the electric flux through a cylinder of radius rand height h surrounding a portion of an infinite line charge, and then useGauss’s law to verify that the enclosed charge is kh.
  32. 32. 24 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsSolution: Problems like this are best approached by considering the fluxthrough each of three surfaces that comprise the cylinder: the top, bot-tom, and curved side surfaces. The most general expression for theelectric flux through any surface is Z UE ¼ ~ ^ da; E n Swhich in this case gives Z 1 k UE ¼ ^ ^ da: r n S 2pe0 r n n n n n n nConsider now the unit normal vectors of each of the three surfaces: sincethe electric field points radially outward from the axis of the cylinder, ~ is Eperpendicular to the normal vectors of the top and bottom surfaces andparallel to the normal vectors for the curved side of the cylinder. Youmay therefore write Z 1 k UE; top ¼ ^ ^top da ¼ 0; r n S 2pe0 r Z 1 k UE; bottom ¼ ^ ^bottom da ¼ 0; r n S 2pe0 r Z Z 1 k 1 k UE; side ¼ ^ ^side da ¼ r n da; S 2pe0 r 2pe0 r S
  33. 33. Gauss’s law for electric fields 25and, since the area of the curved side of the cylinder is 2prh, this gives 1 k kh UE;side ¼ ð2prhÞ ¼ : 2pe0 r e0Gauss’s law tells you that this must equal qenc /e0, which verifies that theenclosed charge qenc ¼ kh in this case.Example 1.5: Given a symmetric charge distribution, find ~ E:Finding the electric field using Gauss’s law may seem to be a hopelesstask. After all, while the electric field does appear in the equation, it is onlythe normal component that emerges from the dot product, and it is onlythe integral of that normal component over the entire surface that is propo-rtional to the enclosed charge. Do realistic situations exist in which it ispossible to dig the electric field out of its interior position in Gauss’s law? Happily, the answer is yes; you may indeed find the electric fieldusing Gauss’s law, albeit only in situations characterized by high sym-metry. Specifically, you can determine the electric field whenever you’reable to design a real or imaginary ‘‘special Gaussian surface’’ thatencloses a known amount of charge. A special Gaussian surface is one onwhich(1) the electric field is either parallel or perpendicular to the surface normal (which allows you to convert the dot product into an algebraic multiplication), and(2) the electric field is constant or zero over sections of the surface (which allows you to remove the electric field from the integral).Of course, the electric field on any surface that you can imagine aroundarbitrarily shaped charge distributions will not satisfy either of theserequirements. But there are situations in which the distribution of chargeis sufficiently symmetric that a special Gaussian surface may be imagined.Specifically, the electric field in the vicinity of spherical charge distribu-tions, infinite lines of charge, and infinite planes of charge may bedetermined by direct application of the integral form of Gauss’s law.Geometries that approximate these ideal conditions, or can be approxi-mated by combinations of them, may also be attacked using Gauss’s law. The following problem shows how to use Gauss’s law to find theelectric field around a spherical distribution of charge; the other cases arecovered in the problem set, for which solutions are available on thewebsite.
  34. 34. 26 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s EquationsProblem: Use Gauss’s law to find the electric field at a distance r from thecenter of a sphere with uniform volume charge density q and radius a.Solution: Consider first the electric field outside the sphere. Since thedistribution of charge is spherically symmetric, it is reasonable to expectthe electric field to be entirely radial (that is, pointed toward or awayfrom the sphere). If that’s not obvious to you, imagine what would ^happen if the electric field had a nonradial component (say in the h or ’ ^direction); by rotating the sphere about some arbitrary axis, you’d be ableto change the direction of the field. But the charge is uniformly distrib-uted throughout the sphere, so there can be no preferred direction ororientation – rotating the sphere simply replaces one chunk of chargewith another, identical chunk – so this can have no effect whatsoever onthe electric field. Faced with this conundrum, you are forced to concludethat the electric field of a spherically symmetric charge distribution mustbe entirely radial. To find the value of this radial field using Gauss’s law, you’ll have toimagine a surface that meets the requirements of a special Gaussiansurface; ~ must be either parallel or perpendicular to the surface normal Eat all locations, and ~ must be uniform everywhere on the surface. For a Eradial electric field, there can be only one choice; your Gaussian surfacemust be a sphere centered on the charged sphere, as shown in Figure 1.12.Notice that no actual surface need be present, and the special Gaussiansurface may be purely imaginary – it is simply a construct that allows youto evaluate the dot product and remove the electric field from the surfaceintegral in Gauss’s law. Since the radial electric field is everywhere parallel to the surfacenormal, the ~ ^ term in the integral in Gauss’s law becomes E n ~ nj cosð0 Þ, and the electric flux over the Gaussian surface S isjEjj^ I I UE ¼ ~ ^ da ¼ E n E da S SSince ~ has no h or u dependence, it must be constant over S, which Emeans it may be removed from the integral: I I UE ¼ E da ¼ E da ¼ Eð4pr 2 Þ; S Swhere r is the radius of the special Gaussian surface. You can now useGauss’s law to find the value of the electric field:
  35. 35. Gauss’s law for electric fields 27 n Special Gaussian surface Radial electric field n Charged n sphere n Figure 1.12 A special Gaussian around a charged sphere. qenc UE ¼ Eð4pr 2 Þ ¼ ; e0or qenc E¼ ; 4pe0 r 2where qenc is the charge enclosed by your Gaussian surface. You can usethis expression to find the electric field both outside and inside the sphere. To find the electric field outside the sphere, construct your Gaussiansurface with radius r a so that the entire charged sphere is within theGaussian surface. This means that the enclosed charge is just the chargedensity times the entire volume of the charged sphere: qenc ¼ ð4=3Þpa3 q.Thus, ð4=3Þpa3 q qa3 E¼ 2 ¼ ðoutside sphereÞ: 4pe0 r 3e0 r 2To find the electric field within the charged sphere, construct yourGaussian surface with r a. In this case, the enclosed charge is the charge
  36. 36. 28 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equationsdensity times the volume of your Gaussian surface: qenc ¼ ð4=3Þpr 3 q.Thus, ð4=3Þpr 3 q qr E¼ ¼ ðinside sphereÞ: 4pe0 r 2 3e0The keys to successfully employing special Gaussian surfaces are torecognize the appropriate shape for the surface and then to adjust its sizeto ensure that it runs through the point at which you wish to determinethe electric field.
  37. 37. Gauss’s law for electric fields 29 1.2 The differential form of Gauss’s lawThe integral form of Gauss’s law for electric fields relates the electric fluxover a surface to the charge enclosed by that surface – but like all ofMaxwell’s Equations, Gauss’s law may also be cast in differential form.The differential form is generally written as ~ E q r~¼ Gauss’s law for electric fields ðdifferential formÞ: e0The left side of this equation is a mathematical description of thedivergence of the electric field – the tendency of the field to ‘‘flow’’ awayfrom a specified location – and the right side is the electric charge densitydivided by the permittivity of free space. ~ Don’t be concerned if the del operator (r) or the concept of divergenceisn’t perfectly clear to you – these are discussed in the following sections.For now, make sure you grasp the main idea of Gauss’s law in differentialform: The electric field produced by electric charge diverges from positive charge and converges upon negative charge.In other words, the only places at which the divergence of the electric fieldis not zero are those locations at which charge is present. If positivecharge is present, the divergence is positive, meaning that the electric fieldtends to ‘‘flow’’ away from that location. If negative charge is present, thedivergence is negative, and the field lines tend to ‘‘flow’’ toward thatpoint. Note that there’s a fundamental difference between the differentialand the integral form of Gauss’s law; the differential form deals with thedivergence of the electric field and the charge density at individual pointsin space, whereas the integral form entails the integral of the normalcomponent of the electric field over a surface. Familiarity with both formswill allow you to use whichever is better suited to the problem you’retrying to solve.
  38. 38. 30 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations To help you understand the meaning of each symbol in the differentialform of Gauss’s law for electric fields, here’s an expanded view: Reminder that del is Reminder that the electric a vector operator field is a vector The charge density in coulombs per cubic meter E= 0 The differential The electric The electric operator called field in N/C permittivity of “del” or “nabla” free space The dot product turns the del operator into the divergenceHow is the differential form of Gauss’s law useful? In any problem inwhich the spatial variation of the vector electric field is known at aspecified location, you can find the volume charge density at that locationusing this form. And if the volume charge density is known, thedivergence of the electric field may be determined.
  39. 39. Gauss’s law for electric fields 31 ~ r Nabla – the del operatorAn inverted uppercase delta appears in the differential form of all four ofMaxwell’s Equations. This symbol represents a vector differential operatorcalled ‘‘nabla’’ or ‘‘del,’’ and its presence instructs you to take derivativesof the quantity on which the operator is acting. The exact form of thosederivatives depends on the symbol following the del operator, with ‘‘r’’ ~ ~ ~signifying divergence, ‘‘r ·’’ indicating curl, and r signifying gradient.Each of these operations is discussed in later sections; for now we’ll justconsider what an operator is and how the del operator can be written inCartesian coordinates. Like all good mathematical operators, del is an action waiting tohappen. Just as H tells you to take the square root of anything that ~appears under its roof, r is an instruction to take derivatives in threedirections. Specifically, ~ i@ j@ k@ r ^ þ^ þ ^ ; ð1:18Þ @x @y @zwhere ^ ^ and ^ are the unit vectors in the direction of the Cartesian i, j, kcoordinates x, y, and z. This expression may appear strange, since in thisform it is lacking anything on which it can operate. In Gauss’s law forelectric fields, the del operator is dotted into the electric field vector,forming the divergence of ~ That operation and its results are described E.in the next section.
  40. 40. 32 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations ~ r Del dot – the divergenceThe concept of divergence is important in many areas of physics andengineering, especially those concerned with the behavior of vector fields.James Clerk Maxwell coined the term ‘‘convergence’’ to describe themathematical operation that measures the rate at which electric field lines‘‘flow’’ toward points of negative electric charge (meaning that positiveconvergence was associated with negative charge). A few years later,Oliver Heaviside suggested the use of the term ‘‘divergence’’ for the samequantity with the opposite sign. Thus, positive divergence is associatedwith the ‘‘flow’’ of electric field lines away from positive charge. Both flux and divergence deal with the ‘‘flow’’ of a vector field, butwith an important difference; flux is defined over an area, while diver-gence applies to individual points. In the case of fluid flow, the divergenceat any point is a measure of the tendency of the flow vectors to divergefrom that point (that is, to carry more material away from it than isbrought toward it). Thus points of positive divergence are sources (fau-cets in situations involving fluid flow, positive electric charge in electro-statics), while points of negative divergence are sinks (drains in fluid flow,negative charge in electrostatics). The mathematical definition of divergence may be understood byconsidering the flux through an infinitesimal surface surrounding thepoint of interest. If you were to form the ratio of the flux of a vector field~ through a surface S to the volume enclosed by that surface as theAvolume shrinks toward zero, you would have the divergence of ~ A: I 1 AÞ ~ A divð~ ¼ r ~ lim ~ ^ da: A n ð1:19Þ DV!0 DV SWhile this expression states the relationship between divergence and flux,it is not particularly useful for finding the divergence of a given vectorfield. You’ll find a more user-friendly mathematical expression fordivergence later in this section, but first you should take a look at thevector fields shown in Figure 1.13. To find the locations of positive divergence in each of these fields, lookfor points at which the flow vectors either spread out or are largerpointing away from the location and shorter pointing toward it. Someauthors suggest that you imagine sprinkling sawdust on flowing water toassess the divergence; if the sawdust is dispersed, you have selected apoint of positive divergence, while if it becomes more concentrated,you’ve picked a location of negative divergence.
  41. 41. Gauss’s law for electric fields 33(a) (b) (c) 4 6 3 5 2 7 1 Figure 1.13 Vector fields with various values of divergence.Using such tests, it is clear that locations such as 1 and 2 in Figure 1.13(a)and location 3 in Figure 1.13(b) are points of positive divergence, whilethe divergence is negative at point 4. The divergence at various points in Figure 1.13(c) is less obvious.Location 5 is obviously a point of positive divergence, but what aboutlocations 6 and 7? The flow lines are clearly spreading out at those loca-tions, but they’re also getting shorter at greater distance from the center.Does the spreading out compensate for the slowing down of the flow? Answering that question requires a useful mathematical form of thedivergence as well as a description of how the vector field varies fromplace to place. The differential form of the mathematical operation of ~divergence or ‘‘del dot’’ (r) on a vector ~ in Cartesian coordinates is A @ @ @ À Á ~ A r ~ ¼ ^ þ^ þ ^ i j k ^ x þ^ y þ ^ z ; iA jA kA @x @y @z and, since ^ ^ ¼ ^ ^ ¼ ^ ^ ¼ 1; this is i i j j k k ~ A @Ax @Ay @Az r~ ¼ þ þ : ð1:20Þ @x @y @zThus, the divergence of the vector field ~ is simply the change in its Ax-component along the x-axis plus the change in its y-component alongthe y-axis plus the change in its z-component along the z-axis. Note thatthe divergence of a vector field is a scalar quantity; it has magnitude butno direction.
  42. 42. 34 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations You can now apply this to the vector fields in Figure 1.13. In Figure1.13(a), assume that the magnitude of the vector field varies sinusoidallyalong the x-axis (which is vertical in this case) as ~ ¼ sinðpxÞ^ while A iremaining constant in the y- and z-directions. Thus, ~ A @Ax ¼ p cosðpxÞ; r~ ¼ @xsince Ay and Az are zero. This expression is positive for 0 x 1, 0 at 2x ¼ 1, and negative for 1 x 3, just as your visual inspection suggested. 2 2 2 Now consider Figure 1.13(b), which represents a slice through aspherically symmetric vector field with amplitude increasing as the squareof the distance from the origin. Thus ~ ¼ r 2^. Since r2 ¼ (x2 þ y2 þ z2) and A r x^ þ y^ þ z^ i j k ^ ¼ pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ; r x 2 þ y2 þ z2this means x^ þ y^ þ z^ i j k ~ ¼ r 2^ ¼ ðx2 þ y2 þ z2 Þ pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ; A r x2 þ y2 þ z2and @Ax À 2 Á 2 ð1=2Þ 1 À 2 ÁÀð1=2Þ ¼ x þy þz 2 þx x þ y2 þ z2 ð2xÞ: @x 2Doing likewise for the y- and z-components and adding yields À Áð1=2Þ x2 þ y2 þ z2 À Á1=2 ~ A r ~ ¼ 3 x2 þ y2 þ z2 þ pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ¼ 4 x2 þ y2 þ z2 ¼ 4r: x 2 þ y2 þ z2Thus, the divergence in the vector field in Figure 1.13(b) is increasinglinearly with distance from the origin. Finally, consider the vector field in Figure 1.13(c), which is similar tothe previous case but with the amplitude of the vector field decreasing asthe square of the distance from the origin. The flow lines are spreadingout as they were in Figure 1.13(b), but in this case you might suspect thatthe decreasing amplitude of the vector field will affect the value of thedivergence. Since ~ ¼ ð1=r 2 Þ^, A r ~¼ 1 x^ þ y^ þ z^ i j k x^ þ y^ þ z^ i j k A pffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ¼ ; ðx2 þy2 þ z2 Þ x2 þ y2 þ z2 ðx2 þ y2 þ z2 Þð3=2Þ
  43. 43. Gauss’s law for electric fields 35and @Ax 1 3 À 2 ÁÀð5=2Þ ¼ –x x þ y2 þ z2 ð2xÞ; @x ðx 2 þ y2 þ z2 Þð3=2Þ 2Adding in the y- and z-derivatives gives À Á ~ A 3 3 x2 þ y 2 þ z2 r~ ¼ ð3=2Þ À ð5=2Þ ¼ 0: ðx 2 þ y 2 þ z2 Þ ðx2 þ y2 þ z2 ÞThis validates the suspicion that the reduced amplitude of the vector fieldwith distance from the origin may compensate for the spreading out ofthe flow lines. Note that this is true only for the case in which theamplitude of the vector field falls off as 1/r2 (this case is especially rele-vant for the electric field, which you’ll find in the next section). As you consider the divergence of the electric field, you shouldremember that some problems may be solved more easily using non-Cartesian coordinate systems. The divergence may be calculated incylindrical and spherical coordinate systems using ~ A 1@ 1 @Af @Az r~ ¼ ðrAr Þ þ þ ðcylindricalÞ; ð1:21Þ r @r r @f @zand ~ A 1 @ r ~ ¼ 2 ðr 2 Ar Þ þ 1 @ ðAh sin hÞ r @r r sin h @h ð1:22Þ 1 @Af þ ðsphericalÞ: r sin h @fIf you doubt the efficacy of choosing the proper coordinate system, youshould rework the last two examples in this section using sphericalcoordinates.
  44. 44. 36 A student’s guide to Maxwell’s Equations ~ E r ~ The divergence of the electric fieldThis expression is the entire left side of the differential form of Gauss’slaw, and it represents the divergence of the electric field. In electrostatics,all electric field lines begin on points of positive charge and terminateon points of negative charge, so it is understandable that this expressionis proportional to the electric charge density at the location underconsideration. Consider the electric field of the positive point charge; the electric fieldlines originate on the positive charge, and you know from Table 1.1 thatthe electric field is radial and decreases as 1/r2: ~ ¼ 1 q ^: E r 4pe0 r 2This is analogous to the vector field shown in Figure 1.13(c), for whichthe divergence is zero. Thus, the spreading out of the electric field lines isexactly compensated by the 1/r2 reduction in field amplitude, and thedivergence of the electric field is zero at all points away from the origin. The reason the origin (where r ¼ 0) is not included in the previousanalysis is that the expression for the divergence includes terms con-taining r in the denominator, and those terms become problematic as rapproaches zero. To evaluate the divergence at the origin, use the formaldefinition of divergence: I ~ E 1 r ~ lim ~ ^ da: E n DV!0 DV SConsidering a special Gaussian surface surrounding the point chargeq, this is 0 1 I ~ E 1 q 1 q r ~ lim @ daA ¼ lim ð4pr 2 Þ DV!0 DV 4pe0 r 2 DV!0 DV 4pe0 r 2 S 1 q ¼ lim : DV!0 DV e0But q/DV is just the average charge density over the volume DV, and asDV shrinks to zero, this becomes equal to q, the charge density at theorigin. Thus, at the origin the divergence is ~ E q r~ ¼ ; e0in accordance with Gauss’s law.
  45. 45. Gauss’s law for electric fields 37 It is worth your time to make sure you understand the significance ofthis last point. A casual glance at the electric field lines in the vicinity of apoint charge suggests that they ‘‘diverge’’ everywhere (in the sense ofgetting farther apart). But as you’ve seen, radial vector fields thatdecrease in amplitude as 1/r2 actually have zero divergence everywhereexcept at the source. The key factor in determining the divergence at anypoint is not simply the spacing of the field lines at that point, but whetherthe flux out of an infinitesimally small volume around the point is greaterthan, equal to, or less than the flux into that volume. If the outward fluxexceeds the inward flux, the divergence is positive at that point. If theoutward flux is less than the inward flux, the divergence is negative, and ifthe outward and inward fluxes are equal the divergence is zero at thatpoint. In the case of a point charge at the origin, the flux through an infini-tesimally small surface is nonzero only if that surface contains the pointcharge. Everywhere else, the flux into and out of that tiny surface must bethe same (since it contains no charge), and the divergence of the electricfield must be zero.

×