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What Is Potential Difference In Physics

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What Is Electromotive Force

Physics – What is Potential Difference – Electricity – Part 6 – English

The electromotive force E of the source is the energy supplied to the unit charge by the cell.When a source of electrical energy is connected across a resistance R, it maintains a steady current through the resistance. The battery makes the positive charge to flow in the external circuit.

Suppose a charge q passed through the circuit in time t. This charge enters the cell at its lower potential and leaves at its positive end , then the source must do work W on the charge q in taking it to the positive terminal which is at the higher potential.Thus, the emf of the source is defined as the energy supplied to unit charge by the cell.

E = Energy/unit charge

E = W/q

The above relation is the electromotive force formula.SI unit of emf is Joule/Coulomb which is equal to volt.

What Is Potential Difference Physics

Definition of potential difference. : the difference in potential between two points that represents the work involved or the energy released in the transfer of a unit quantity of electricity from one point to the other.

In this way, what is potential difference GCSE physics?

Measuring potential differencePotential difference is a measure of how much energy is transferred between two points in a circuit.

Additionally, what is a potential in physics? Potential means ability and in physics ability of a system to perform a work . So , in electrical system a force which cause movement of charge to some distance in presence of another force is called potential .

One may also ask, what is potential difference in simple words?

Potential difference is the work done in moving a unit of positive electric charge from one point to another. Ohm’s law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference or voltage across the two points.

How is potential difference created?

To create and sustain a potential difference you need something to move charges “the wrong way”. That is, towards the point of higher potential. Inside the battery a chemical process creates such a force which pushes the electrons back up to the higher potential point .

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Potential Difference & Energy

  • The potential difference between two points in a circuit is the amount of energy transferred by each unit of charge passing between those two points
  • The unit of voltage, the volt , is the same as ajoule per coulomb

1 V = 1 J/C

  • So, for example:
  • If a bulb has a voltage of 3 V, every coulomb of charge passing through the bulb will lose 3 J of energy

Exam Tip

Think of potential difference as being the energy per coulomb.

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Making Connections: Energy Units

The electron volt is the most common energy unit for submicroscopic processes. This will be particularly noticeable in the chapters on modern physics. Energy is so important to so many subjects that there is a tendency to define a special energy unit for each major topic. There are, for example, calories for food energy, kilowatt-hours for electrical energy, and therms for natural gas energy.

The electron volt is commonly employed in submicroscopic processeschemical valence energies and molecular and nuclear binding energies are among the quantities often expressed in electron volts. For example, about 5 eV of energy is required to break up certain organic molecules. If a proton is accelerated from rest through a potential difference of 30 kV, it is given an energy of 30 keV and it can break up as many as 6000 of these molecules . Nuclear decay energies are on the order of 1 MeV per event and can, thus, produce significant biological damage.

What Is Potential Difference In Physics

GCSE Physics Potential difference, current and resistance ...

The potential difference across the two points of a conductor causes the dissipation of electrical energy into other forms of energy as charges flow through the circuit.When one end A of a conductor is connected to the positive terminal and its other end B is connected to the negative terminal of the battery, then the potential at A becomes higher than the potential at the B.

This causes a potential difference between the two points of the conductor. The flow of current continues as long as there is a potential difference. The agency which provides the potential difference for the steady flow of current in the copper wire is the battery. As the current flows from higher potential to the lower potential through the conductor, the electrical energy is converted into other forms .

When current flows through the conductor, it experiences resistance in the conductor by collisions with an atom of the conductor. This energy supplied by the battery is utilized in overcoming this resistance and is dissipated as heat and other forms of energy. The dissipation of this energy is accounted for by the potential difference across the two ends of the light bulb.

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Example 1 Calculating Energy

Suppose you have a 12.0 V motorcycle battery that can move 5000 C of charge, and a 12.0 V car battery that can move 60,000 C of charge. How much energy does each deliver?


To say we have a 12.0 V battery means that its terminals have a 12.0 V potential difference. When such a battery moves charge, it puts the charge through a potential difference of 12.0 V, and the charge is given a change in potential energy equal to PE = qV.

So to find the energy output, we multiply the charge moved by the potential difference.


For the motorcycle battery, q = 5000 C and V = 12.0 V. The total energy delivered by the motorcycle battery is

\begin\Delta\text_}& =& \left\left\\\text& =& \left\left\\\text& =& 6.00\times10^4\text\end\\

Similarly, for the car battery, q = 60,000 C and

\begin\Delta\text_}& =& \left\left\\\text& =& 7.20\times10^5\text\end\\


While voltage and energy are related, they are not the same thing. The voltages of the batteries are identical, but the energy supplied by each is quite different. Note also that as a battery is discharged, some of its energy is used internally and its terminal voltage drops, such as when headlights dim because of a low car battery. The energy supplied by the battery is still calculated as in this example, but not all of the energy is available for external use.

What Is Electric Potential Difference In Physics

4.7/5electric potential differencedifferenceelectric potentialpotential

Potential difference is the difference in the amount of energy that charge carriers have between two points in a circuit. A potential difference of one Volt is equal to one Joule of energy being used by one Coulomb of charge when it flows between two points in a circuit.

One may also ask, what is electric potential in simple words? electric potential. n. The work per unit of charge required to move a charge from a reference point to a specified point, measured in joules per coulomb or volts. The static electric field is the negative of the gradient of the electric potential.

Moreover, what do you mean by electric potential difference?

The electrical potential difference is defined as the amount of work done to carrying a unit charge from one point to another in an electric field. In other words, the potential difference is defined as the difference in the electric potential of the two charged bodies.

What is electric potential in physics?

An electric potential is the amount of work needed to move a unit of charge from a reference point to a specific point inside the field without producing an acceleration.

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Treatment In Circuit Theory

In circuit analysis and electrical engineering, lumped element models are used to represent and analyze circuits. These elements are idealized and self-contained circuit elements used to model physical components.

When using a lumped element model, it is assumed that the effects of changing magnetic fields produced by the circuit are suitably contained to each element. Under these assumptions, the electric field in the region exterior to each component is conservative, and voltages between nodes in the circuit are well-defined, where

d =-\int _ _}^ _}\mathbf \cdot \mathrm }}

as long as the path of integration does not pass through the inside of any component. The above is the same formula used in electrostatics. This integral, with the path of integration being along the test leads, is what a voltmeter will actually measure.

If uncontained magnetic fields throughout the circuit are not negligible, then their effects can be modelled by adding mutual inductance elements. In the case of a physical inductor though, the ideal lumped representation is often accurate. This is because the external fields of inductors are generally negligible, especially if the inductor has a closed magnetic path. If external fields are negligible, we find that

d t =-\int _ }\mathbf \cdot \mathrm }=L}}

Selected Solutions To Problems & Exercises

What is Potential Difference? | Electricity | Physics

1. 42.8

4. 1.00 × 105 K

6. 4 × 104 W A defibrillator does not cause serious burns because the skin conducts electricity well at high voltages, like those used in defibrillators. The gel used aids in the transfer of energy to the body, and the skin doesnt absorb the energy, but rather lets it pass through to the heart.

8. 7.40 × 103 C 1.54 × 1020 electrons per second

9. 3.89 × 106 C

11. 1.44 × 1012 V This voltage is very high. A 10.0 cm diameter sphere could never maintain this voltage it would discharge An 8.00 C charge is more charge than can reasonably be accumulated on a sphere of that size.

  • College Physics. : OpenStax College. Located at: . License: CC BY: Attribution. License Terms: Located at License

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What Is The Formula For Calculating Potential Difference

The formula for measuring potential difference is V=W/Q and this formula is known as Ohms law. In this equation, V is equal to the potential difference, W is the energy transferred or work done and Q is the amount of the charge. Potential difference can also be measured using the formula V=IR, where I is the current charge and R is the resistance.

Potential difference affects how current flows from one point of a circuit to another. The larger the potential difference, the quicker the flow of the current through a circuit. Potential difference is measured in either volts or Joules per coulomb. In practice, the potential difference within a circuit can be measured using tools, such as a voltmeter.

Electric Potential And Potential Difference

All of us know that the like charges repel each other and unlike charges attract each other. Some work is always involved in moving a charge in the area of another charge. What makes the charge to flow? Well, this basically happens because of the Electric Potential. Let us study more about it below.

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Galvani Potential Vs Electrochemical Potential

Inside a conductive material, the energy of an electron is affected not only by the average electric potential but also by the specific thermal and atomic environment that it is in.When a voltmeter is connected between two different types of metal, it measures not the electrostatic potential difference, but instead something else that is affected by thermodynamics.The quantity measured by a voltmeter is the negative of the difference of the electrochemical potential of electrons divided by the electron charge and commonly referred to as the voltage difference, while the pure unadjusted electrostatic potential is sometimes called Galvani potential.The terms “voltage” and “electric potential” are ambiguous in that, in practice, they can refer to either of these in different contexts.

Voltage And Potential Difference

Potential Difference

is more approachable than the phrase potential difference so is probably enough for 1114 year old children. A more sophisticated development that justifies the term potential difference is probably not appropriate for a class of 1114 year-olds. Voltage drops and gains, later referred to as potential drops and rises, by analogy with gravitational potential difference, might also best be excised from the classroom for now. Indeed, the whole idea of potential difference is one that is hard for post-16 students. We’d suggest leaving the hills analogy to then. There may be a case for introducing it subtly in 1416 teaching. But you should beware of the difficulties, as the electrical hills are only there when there is a loop with current in the circuit elements. It’s not much like a circular route in the fells, where the hills are there, whether or not there is a flow of walkers along the path. You always need to take care not to lead pupils off along the wrong tracks by injecting a half-developed analogy.

Teacher Tip:

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Unit Of Potential Difference

The unit of Potential Difference is named after Alessandro Volta. The volt is a measure of electric potential. Electrical potential is a type of potential energy, and refers to the energy that could be released if electric current is allowed to flow.

One volt is defined as the difference in electric potential between two points of a conducting wire when an electric current of one ampere dissipates one watt of power between those points. It is also equal to the potential difference between two parallel, infinite planes spaced 1 meter apart that create an electric field of 1 newton per coulomb.

The SI unit of work is the joule . The SI unit of force is the newton . The SI unit of distance is the meter .

W = N x m

What Happens When The Battery Is In Connection With The Circuit

When a conducting wire is in connection with the terminals of the battery, a potential difference is created between the ends of the conductor. This potential difference sets up an electric field throughout the conductor.The electrons near the positive terminal of the battery are attracted by it and start on the move towards positive terminal.

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Example 3 Electrical Potential Energy Converted To Kinetic Energy

Calculate the final speed of a free electron accelerated from rest through a potential difference of 100 V.


We have a system with only conservative forces. Assuming the electron is accelerated in a vacuum, and neglecting the gravitational force , all of the electrical potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. We can identify the initial and final forms of energy to be KEi = 0, KE_=\fracmv^2\\, PEi = qV, and PEf = 0.


Conservation of energy states that KEi + PE i = KE f + PE f .

Entering the forms identified above, we obtain qV=\frac\\.

We solve this for v:


Entering values for q, V, and m gives

\begin& =& \sqrt\text\right)\left}\text}}\\\text& =& 5.93\times10^6\text\end\\


Note that both the charge and the initial voltage are negative, as in Figure 3. From the discussions in Electric Charge and Electric Field, we know that electrostatic forces on small particles are generally very large compared with the gravitational force. The large final speed confirms that the gravitational force is indeed negligible here. The large speed also indicates how easy it is to accelerate electrons with small voltages because of their very small mass. Voltages much higher than the 100 V in this problem are typically used in electron guns. Those higher voltages produce electron speeds so great that relativistic effects must be taken into account. That is why a low voltage is considered in this example.

Potential Difference And Electrical Potential Energy

GCSE Science Revision Physics “Potential Difference in Series Circuits”

The relationship between potential difference and electrical potential energy is given by

\Delta=\frac}\\ and PE = qV

The second equation is equivalent to the first.

Voltage is not the same as energy. Voltage is the energy per unit charge. Thus a motorcycle battery and a car battery can both have the same voltage , yet one stores much more energy than the other since PE = qV. The car battery can move more charge than the motorcycle battery, although both are 12 V batteries.

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Which Analogy Is Similar To Voltage

Voltage is represented in equations and schematics by the letter V. When describing voltage, current, and resistance, a common analogy is a water tank. In this analogy, charge is represented by the water amount, voltage is represented by the water pressure, and current is represented by the water flow.

Example 2 How Many Electrons Move Through A Headlight Each Second

When a 12.0 V car battery runs a single 30.0 W headlight, how many electrons pass through it each second?


To find the number of electrons, we must first find the charge that moved in 1.00 s. The charge moved is related to voltage and energy through the equation PE = qV. A 30.0 W lamp uses 30.0 joules per second. Since the battery loses energy, we have PE = 30.0 J and, since the electrons are going from the negative terminal to the positive, we see that V = +12.0V.


To find the charge q moved, we solve the equation PE = qV: q=\frac}}\\.

Entering the values for PE and V, we get


The number of electrons ne is the total charge divided by the charge per electron. That is,



This is a very large number. It is no wonder that we do not ordinarily observe individual electrons with so many being present in ordinary systems. In fact, electricity had been in use for many decades before it was determined that the moving charges in many circumstances were negative. Positive charge moving in the opposite direction of negative charge often produces identical effects this makes it difficult to determine which is moving or whether both are moving.

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What Is Potential Difference Gcse Physics

4.2/5potential differencePotential difference

Besides, what is potential difference physics?

Potential difference is the difference in the amount of energy that charge carriers have between two points in a circuit. A potential difference of one Volt is equal to one Joule of energy being used by one Coulomb of charge when it flows between two points in a circuit.

Also Know, what is potential difference in a battery? The electric potential difference or voltage of a battery is the potential energy difference across its terminals for every Coulomb of charge. The negative terminal of the battery is the low voltage location on a circuit. It is considered to be at 0 Volts.

Herein, what is a source of potential difference?

Batteries serve as a constant in order to force the current to flow. It’s like a reward for current. The bigger the potential difference, the more current will flow. So potential difference is used to get us to make current do whatever we want it to do.

What is potential difference of a cell?

The cell potential, , is the measure of the potential difference between two half cells in an electrochemical cell. The potential difference is caused by the ability of electrons to flow from one half cell to the other.

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