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Post  Post subject: Electric Potential  |  Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:14 am

Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:53 am
Posts: 2

So I have just learned that electric potential is the work needed per unit charge to move from infinity to a distance away from a point charge. In my understanding, it does not make sense to show the amount of electric potential of something without specifying its location in space, since electric charge is inversely proportional to space.

But I noticed that many things has a specified electric potential without specifying its location in space. For instance, batteries. What does it actually mean if a battery has some amount of electric potential?

Thanks in advance!

Post  Post subject: Re: Electric Potential  |  Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:01 am

Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:44 am
Posts: 514
Location: Newcastle-upon-Tyne

I think you are confusing electric potential energy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_potential_energy) and cell potential (http://chem.libretexts.org/Core/Analyti ... _Potential) these are not the same thing...

"The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart"

- Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

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Post  Post subject: Re: Electric Potential  |  Posted: Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:12 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:05 am
Posts: 96

Yes, in electronics, where one is looking at differences in voltage, (otherwise known as potential difference), between elements in a circuit connected together with conductors, distance is not really relevant in that context.

In broadcasting, where one is considering electric fields, distance is relevant.

In the case of the battery, think of potential difference, or voltage as a pressure. Imagine the battery as a pressurised tank. The pressure inside stays constant unless a hole is made to release the gas. The battery has a certain voltage which will not reduce* unless its electrons are given a route to flow out, so it has a 'potential'. If one measures the voltage across the battery, then one terminal will have a different voltage compared to the other. - i.e. there is a potential difference across the battery.

*Most batteries will self discharge to some degree, owing to undesirable leakage paths within their construction, so they will not retain all their potential indefinitely.


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