# Electric Fields. Goals. Introduction

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1 Lab 2. Electric Fields Goals To understand how contour lines of equal voltage, which are easily measured, relate to the electric field produced by electrically charged objects. To learn how to identify regions of strong and weak electric fields from maps of electric field lines. To quantitatively estimate the magnitude and direction of an electric field using experimental voltage measurements. Introduction The concept of the electric field is useful in determining the force on a charged object due to the presence of other charges. The purpose of this laboratory is to quantitatively map, in two dimensions, a set of equipotential lines for two different charge distributions using a voltmeter. An equipotential line connects the set of points for which the potential difference or voltage has a constant value. The two-dimensional charge distributions will be established by applying a potential difference between a pair of conducting electrodes. The electrodes are attached to a board covered with conducting paper. From these equipotential lines the electric field can be determined. Electric field lines always cross equipotential lines at right angles as a consequence of the definition of electric potential. By convention, electric field lines start on positive charges and end on negative charges. You will use a voltmeter to locate different points on the black conducting paper for which the voltage differences between the points in question and a reference point (say, at zero potential) are the same. These points are recorded on a white sheet of paper with the same grid pattern as the conducting paper. Then connect these points of equal voltage to form an equipotential line. From a set of equipotential lines you can create a map of the vector electric field following the rules stated in the previous paragraph. Since electric field lines start from and end on electrical charges, higher densities of field lines near the electrodes indicate regions of higher charge concentration. From a complete electric field map, the charge densities on the electrodes themselves can be deduced. 5

2 6 CHAPTER 2. ELECTRIC FIELDS Electric field of a long plate parallel to a long rod Equipment set-up Power Supply Conducting Paper Circle-Shaped Electrode Probe Digital Multimeter Bar-Shaped Electrode Figure 2.1. Electrical connections. 1. On the white paper grids provided, carefully draw the outlines of the brass electrodes at the same positions as they appear on the black conductive paper. 2. Connect the positive terminal (red jack) of the power supply to the circle-shaped electrode on the conductive paper, as shown in Figure 2.1. This will produce a net positive charge on the circular electrode. Connect the negative terminal (black jack) of the power supply to the bar-shaped electrode on the conductive paper. This will produce a net negative charge on the bar electrode. Use alligator clips to connect the wires from the power supply to the electrodes. This configuration simulates the electric field between a positively charged rod and a negatively charged plate. 3. Adjust the current knob on the power supply to the straight-up or 12 o clock position. Then turn the power supply on and adjust the COARSE voltage control knob to set the voltage to about 5 V as read on the voltmeter on the front of the power supply. 4. Connect the common (COM) terminal of the digital multimeter (DMM) to the bar-shaped electrode. Connect the wire lead with the probe to the V-Ω (volt-ohm) terminal of the DMM, and set the range knob to 20 DCV. 5. Now fine tune the adjustment of the power supply by: (1) touching the probe to the circleshaped electrode, and (2) turning the FINE voltage control knob on the power supply until the voltage reading on the DMM lies between 4.90 and 5.10 V, making sure that the reading is stable. Once set, this voltage should remain constant for the mapping of all the equipotential lines for a given electrode configuration. Check it from time to time as you make your map,

5 Before you leave the lab please: Straighten up your lab station. Report any problems or suggest improvements to your TA. 9

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