Tue May 24, 2011 By: Stuti Mishra

Mam,can you please make me understand the difference between Electrostatic potential and potential energy ?

Expert Reply
Tue May 24, 2011
Electrostatics is the branch of science that deals with the phenomena arising from what seems to be stationary electric charges. Since ancient history it is known that some materials attract light particles after rubbing. The greek word for amber, ???????? (electron), gave name for many areas of natural science. Electrostatic phenomena arise from the forces that electric charges carry out on each other. Such forces are described by Coulomb's law. Electrostatic phenomena include such as simple as the attraction of plastic wrap to your hand after you remove it from a package to apparently spontaneous explosion of grain silos, to damage of electronic components during manufacturing, to the operation of photocopiers. Electrostatics involves the buildup of charge on the surface of objects due to contact with other surfaces. Although charge exchange happens whenever any two surfaces contact and separate, the effects of charge exchange are usually only noticed when at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow. This is because the charges that transfer to or from the highly resistive surface are more or less trapped there for a long enough time for their effects to be observed. These charges then remain on the object until they either bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge: e.g., the familiar phenomenon of a static 'shock' is caused by the neutralization of charge built up in the body from contact with nonconductive surfaces.
 Electrostatic potential

Because the electric field is irrotational, it is possible to express the electric field as the gradient of a scalar function, called the electrostatic potential (also known as the voltage). An electric field, E, points from regions of high potential, ?, to regions of low potential.
In physics, potential energy is the energy stored in a body or in a system due to its position in a force field or due to its configuration.The SI unit of measure for energy and work is the joule (symbol J).
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