Sunday, December 30, 2012

Electric Field Intensity due to Sheet of Charge

Field due to a uniformly charged infinite plane sheet

Let σ be the uniform surface charge density of an infinite plane sheet. We take the x-axis normal to the given plane. By symmetry, the electric field will not depend on y and z coordinates and its direction

We can take the Gaussian surface to be a rectangular parallelepiped of cross sectional area A, as shown. (A cylindrical surface will also do.) As seen from the figure, only the two faces 1 and 2 will contribute to the flux; electric field lines are parallel to the other faces and they, therefore, do not contribute to the total flux.

The unit vector normal to surface 1 is in –x direction while the unit vector normal to surface 2 is in the +x direction. Therefore, flux E.ΔS through both the surfaces are equal and add up. Therefore the net flux through the Gaussian surface is 2 EA. The charge enclosed by the closed surface is σ A. Therefore by Gauss’s law,

 where nˆ is a unit vector normal to the plane and going away from it. E is directed away from the plate if σ is positive and toward the plate if σ is negative.

Note that the above application of the Gauss’ law has brought out an additional fact: E is independent of x also


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