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The term **magnetic potential** can be used for either of two quantities in classical electromagnetism: the *magnetic vector potential*, or simply *vector potential*, **A**; and the *magnetic scalar potential**ψ*. Both quantities can be used in certain circumstances to calculate the magnetic field **B**.

**Classical electromagnetism** or **classical electrodynamics** is a branch of theoretical physics that studies the interactions between electric charges and currents using an extension of the classical Newtonian model. The theory provides a description of electromagnetic phenomena whenever the relevant length scales and field strengths are large enough that quantum mechanical effects are negligible. For small distances and low field strengths, such interactions are better described by quantum electrodynamics.

A **magnetic field** is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence of electric charges in relative motion and magnetized materials. The effects of magnetic fields are commonly seen in permanent magnets, which pull on magnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. Magnetic fields surround and are created by magnetized material and by moving electric charges such as those used in electromagnets. They exert forces on nearby moving electrical charges and torques on nearby magnets. In addition, a magnetic field that varies with location exerts a force on magnetic materials. Both the strength and direction of a magnetic field vary with location. As such, it is described mathematically as a vector field.

- Magnetic vector potential
- Gauge choices
- Maxwell's equations in terms of vector potential
- Calculation of potentials from source distributions
- Depiction of the A-field
- Electromagnetic four-potential
- Magnetic scalar potential
- See also
- Notes
- References

The more frequently used magnetic vector potential is defined so that its curl is equal to the magnetic field: . Together with the electric potential *φ*, the magnetic vector potential can be used to specify the electric field **E** as well. Therefore, many equations of electromagnetism can be written either in terms of the fields **E** and **B**, or equivalently in terms of the potentials **A** and *φ*. In more advanced theories such as quantum mechanics, most equations use potentials rather than fields.

In vector calculus, the **curl** is a vector operator that describes the infinitesimal rotation of a vector field in three-dimensional Euclidean space. At every point in the field, the curl of that point is represented by a vector. The attributes of this vector characterize the rotation at that point.

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. Typically, the reference point is the Earth or a point at infinity, although any point can be used.

An **electric field** surrounds an electric charge, and exerts force on other charges in the field, attracting or repelling them. Electric field is sometimes abbreviated as **E**-field. The electric field is defined mathematically as a vector field that associates to each point in space the force per unit of charge exerted on an infinitesimal positive test charge at rest at that point. The SI unit for electric field strength is volt per meter (V/m). Newtons per coulomb (N/C) is also used as a unit of electric field strength. Electric fields are created by electric charges, or by time-varying magnetic fields. Electric fields are important in many areas of physics, and are exploited practically in electrical technology. On an atomic scale, the electric field is responsible for the attractive force between the atomic nucleus and electrons that holds atoms together, and the forces between atoms that cause chemical bonding. Electric fields and magnetic fields are both manifestations of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.

The magnetic scalar potential *ψ* is sometimes used to specify the magnetic **H**-field in cases when there are no free currents, in a manner analogous to using the electric potential to determine the electric field in electrostatics. One important use of *ψ* is to determine the magnetic field due to permanent magnets when their magnetization is known. With some care the scalar potential can be extended to include free currents as well.^{[ citation needed ]}

**Electrostatics** is a branch of physics that studies electric charges at rest.

In classical electromagnetism, **magnetization** or **magnetic polarization** is the vector field that expresses the density of permanent or induced magnetic dipole moments in a magnetic material. The origin of the magnetic moments responsible for magnetization can be either microscopic electric currents resulting from the motion of electrons in atoms, or the spin of the electrons or the nuclei. Net magnetization results from the response of a material to an external magnetic field, together with any unbalanced magnetic dipole moments that may be inherent in the material itself; for example, in ferromagnets. Magnetization is not always uniform within a body, but rather varies between different points. Magnetization also describes how a material responds to an applied magnetic field as well as the way the material changes the magnetic field, and can be used to calculate the forces that result from those interactions. It can be compared to electric polarization, which is the measure of the corresponding response of a material to an electric field in electrostatics. Physicists and engineers usually define magnetization as the quantity of magnetic moment per unit volume. It is represented by a pseudovector **M**.

Historically, Lord Kelvin first introduced vector potential in 1851, along with the formula relating it to the magnetic field.^{ [1] }

The magnetic vector potential **A** is a vector field, defined along with the electric potential *ϕ* (a scalar field) by the equations:^{ [2] }

In vector calculus and physics, a **vector field** is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. A vector field in the plane, can be visualised as a collection of arrows with a given magnitude and direction, each attached to a point in the plane. Vector fields are often used to model, for example, the speed and direction of a moving fluid throughout space, or the strength and direction of some force, such as the magnetic or gravitational force, as it changes from one point to another point.

In mathematics and physics, a **scalar field** associates a scalar value to every point in a space – possibly physical space. The scalar may either be a (dimensionless) mathematical number or a physical quantity. In a physical context, scalar fields are required to be independent of the choice of reference frame, meaning that any two observers using the same units will agree on the value of the scalar field at the same absolute point in space regardless of their respective points of origin. Examples used in physics include the temperature distribution throughout space, the pressure distribution in a fluid, and spin-zero quantum fields, such as the Higgs field. These fields are the subject of scalar field theory.

where **B** is the magnetic field and **E** is the electric field. In magnetostatics where there is no time-varying charge distribution, only the first equation is needed. (In the context of electrodynamics, the terms *vector potential* and *scalar potential* are used for *magnetic vector potential* and * electric potential *, respectively. In mathematics, vector potential and scalar potential can be generalized to higher dimensions.)

**Magnetostatics** is the study of magnetic fields in systems where the currents are steady. It is the magnetic analogue of electrostatics, where the charges are stationary. The magnetization need not be static; the equations of magnetostatics can be used to predict fast magnetic switching events that occur on time scales of nanoseconds or less. Magnetostatics is even a good approximation when the currents are not static — as long as the currents do not alternate rapidly. Magnetostatics is widely used in applications of micromagnetics such as models of magnetic storage devices as in computer memory. Magnetostatic focussing can be achieved either by a permanent magnet or by passing current through a coil of wire whose axis coincides with the beam axis.

In vector calculus, a **vector potential** is a vector field whose curl is a given vector field. This is analogous to a *scalar potential*, which is a scalar field whose gradient is a given vector field.

**Scalar potential**, simply stated, describes the situation where the difference in the potential energies of an object in two different positions depends only on the positions, not upon the path taken by the object in traveling from one position to the other. It is a scalar field in three-space: a directionless value (scalar) that depends only on its location. A familiar example is potential energy due to gravity.

If electric and magnetic fields are defined as above from potentials, they automatically satisfy two of Maxwell's equations: Gauss's law for magnetism and Faraday's Law. For example, if **A** is continuous and well-defined everywhere, then it is guaranteed not to result in magnetic monopoles. (In the mathematical theory of magnetic monopoles, **A** is allowed to be either undefined or multiple-valued in some places; see magnetic monopole for details).

Starting with the above definitions:

Alternatively, the existence of **A** and *ϕ* is guaranteed from these two laws using Helmholtz's theorem. For example, since the magnetic field is divergence-free (Gauss's law for magnetism; i.e., **∇** ⋅ **B** = 0), **A** always exists that satisfies the above definition.

The vector potential **A** is used when studying the Lagrangian in classical mechanics and in quantum mechanics (see Schrödinger equation for charged particles, Dirac equation, Aharonov–Bohm effect).

In the SI system, the units of **A** are V·s·m ^{−1} and are the same as that of momentum per unit charge.

Although the magnetic field **B** is a pseudovector (also called axial vector), the vector potential **A** is a polar vector.^{ [3] } This means that if the right-hand rule for cross products were replaced with a left-hand rule, but without changing any other equations or definitions, then **B** would switch signs, but **A** would not change. This is an example of a general theorem: The curl of a polar vector is a pseudovector, and vice versa.^{ [3] }

The above definition does not define the magnetic vector potential uniquely because, by definition, we can arbitrarily add curl-free components to the magnetic potential without changing the observed magnetic field. Thus, there is a degree of freedom available when choosing **A**. This condition is known as gauge invariance.

Using the above definition of the potentials and applying it to the other two Maxwell's equations (the ones that are not automatically satisfied) results in a complicated differential equation that can be simplified using the Lorenz gauge where **A** is chosen to satisfy:

^{ [2] }

Using the Lorenz gauge, Maxwell's equations can be written compactly in terms of the magnetic vector potential **A** and the electric scalar potential *ϕ*:^{ [2] }

In other gauges, the equations are different. A different notation to write these same equations (using four-vectors) is shown below.

The solutions of Maxwell's equations in the Lorenz gauge (see Feynman^{ [2] } and Jackson^{ [4] }) with the boundary condition that both potentials go to zero sufficiently fast as they approach infinity are called the retarded potentials, which are the magnetic vector potential **A**(**r**, *t*) and the electric scalar potential *ϕ*(**r**, *t*) due to a current distribution of current density **J**(**r**′, *t*′), charge density *ρ*(**r**′, *t*′), and volume Ω, within which *ρ* and **J** are non-zero at least sometimes and some places):

where the fields at position vector **r** and time *t* are calculated from sources at distant position **r**′ at an earlier time *t*′. The location **r**′ is a source point in the charge or current distribution (also the integration variable, within volume Ω). The earlier time *t*′ is called the * retarded time *, and calculated as

- .

There are a few notable things about **A** and *ϕ* calculated in this way:

- (The Lorenz gauge condition): is satisfied.
- The position of
**r**, the point at which values for*ϕ*and**A**are found, only enters the equation as part of the scalar distance from**r**′ to**r**. The direction from**r**′ to**r**does not enter into the equation. The only thing that matters about a source point is how far away it is. - The integrand uses
*retarded time*,*t*′. This simply reflects the fact that changes in the sources propagate at the speed of light. Hence the charge and current densities affecting the electric and magnetic potential at**r**and*t*, from remote location**r**′ must also be at some prior time*t*′. - The equation for
**A**is a vector equation. In Cartesian coordinates, the equation separates into three scalar equations:^{ [5] }

- In this form it is easy to see that the component of
**A**in a given direction depends only on the components of**J**that are in the same direction. If the current is carried in a long straight wire, the**A**points in the same direction as the wire.

In other gauges, the formula for **A** and *ϕ* is different; for example, see Coulomb gauge for another possibility.

See Feynman^{ [6] } for the depiction of the **A** field around a long thin solenoid.

Since

assuming quasi-static conditions, i.e.

the lines and contours of **A** relate to **B** like the lines and contours of **B** relate to **j**. Thus, a depiction of the **A** field around a loop of **B** flux (as would be produced in a toroidal inductor) is qualitatively the same as the **B** field around a loop of current.

The figure to the right is an artist's depiction of the **A** field. The thicker lines indicate paths of higher average intensity (shorter paths have higher intensity so that the path integral is the same). The lines are drawn to (aesthetically) impart the general look of the **A**-field.

The drawing tacitly assumes **∇** ⋅ **A** = 0, true under one of the following assumptions:

- the Coulomb gauge is assumed
- the Lorenz gauge is assumed and there is no distribution of charge,
*ρ*= 0, - the Lorenz gauge is assumed and zero frequency is assumed
- the Lorenz gauge is assumed and a non-zero frequency that is low enough to neglect is assumed

In the context of special relativity, it is natural to join the magnetic vector potential together with the (scalar) electric potential into the electromagnetic potential, also called *four-potential*.

One motivation for doing so is that the four-potential is a mathematical four-vector. Thus, using standard four-vector transformation rules, if the electric and magnetic potentials are known in one inertial reference frame, they can be simply calculated in any other inertial reference frame.

Another, related motivation is that the content of classical electromagnetism can be written in a concise and convenient form using the electromagnetic four potential, especially when the Lorenz gauge is used. In particular, in abstract index notation, the set of Maxwell's equations (in the Lorenz gauge) may be written (in Gaussian units) as follows:

where □ is the d'Alembertian and *J* is the four-current. The first equation is the Lorenz gauge condition while the second contains Maxwell's equations. The four-potential also plays a very important role in quantum electrodynamics.

The scalar potential is another useful quantity in describing the magnetic field, especially for permanent magnets.

In a simply connected domain where there is no free current,

hence we can define a *magnetic scalar potential*, *ψ*, as^{ [7] }

Using the definition of **H**:

it follows that

Here, ∇ ⋅ **M** acts as the source for magnetic field, much like ∇ ⋅ **P** acts as the source for electric field. So analogously to bound electric charge, the quantity

is called the *bound magnetic charge*.

If there is free current, one may subtract the contribution of free current per Biot–Savart law from total magnetic field and solve the remainder with the scalar potential method. To date there has not been any reproducible evidence for the existence of magnetic monopoles.^{ [8] }

- ↑ Yang, ChenNing (2014). "The conceptual origins of Maxwell's equations and gauge theory".
*Physics Today*.**67**(11): 45–51. Bibcode:2014PhT....67k..45Y. doi:10.1063/PT.3.2585. - 1 2 3 4 Feynman (1964 , pp. 15–15)
- 1 2 Tensors and pseudo-tensors, lecture notes by Richard Fitzpatrick
- ↑ Jackson (1999 , p. 246)
- ↑ Kraus (1984 , p. 189)
- ↑ Feynman (1964 , p. 11, cpt 15 )
- ↑ Vanderlinde (2005 , pp. 194~199)
- ↑ Griffiths, David (2013).
*Introduction to Electrodynamics*. Pearson. pp. 241–242. ISBN 9780321856562.

In physics the **Lorentz force** is the combination of electric and magnetic force on a point charge due to electromagnetic fields. A particle of charge *q* moving with a velocity **v** in an electric field **E** and a magnetic field **B** experiences a force of

In mathematics, **Poisson's equation** is a partial differential equation of elliptic type with broad utility in mechanical engineering and theoretical physics. It arises, for instance, to describe the potential field caused by a given charge or mass density distribution; with the potential field known, one can then calculate gravitational or electrostatic field. It is a generalization of Laplace's equation, which is also frequently seen in physics. The equation is named after the French mathematician, geometer, and physicist Siméon Denis Poisson.

"**A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field**" is a paper by James Clerk Maxwell on electromagnetism, published in 1865. In the paper, Maxwell derives an electromagnetic wave equation with a velocity for light in close agreement with measurements made by experiment, and deduces that light is an electromagnetic wave.

An **electromagnetic four-potential** is a relativistic vector function from which the electromagnetic field can be derived. It combines both an electric scalar potential and a magnetic vector potential into a single four-vector.

In physics, specifically field theory and particle physics, the **Proca action** describes a massive spin-1 field of mass *m* in Minkowski spacetime. The corresponding equation is a relativistic wave equation called the **Proca equation**. The Proca action and equation are named after Romanian physicist Alexandru Proca.

A **classical field theory** is a physical theory that predicts how one or more physical fields interact with matter through **field equations**. The term 'classical field theory' is commonly reserved for describing those physical theories that describe electromagnetism and gravitation, two of the fundamental forces of nature. Theories that incorporate quantum mechanics are called quantum field theories.

In differential geometry, the **four-gradient** is the four-vector analogue of the gradient from vector calculus.

In electromagnetism, the **Lorenz gauge condition** or **Lorenz gauge** is a partial gauge fixing of the electromagnetic vector potential. The condition is that This does not completely determine the gauge: one can still make a gauge transformation where is a harmonic scalar function.

In the physics of gauge theories, **gauge fixing** denotes a mathematical procedure for coping with redundant degrees of freedom in field variables. By definition, a gauge theory represents each physically distinct configuration of the system as an equivalence class of detailed local field configurations. Any two detailed configurations in the same equivalence class are related by a gauge transformation, equivalent to a shear along unphysical axes in configuration space. Most of the quantitative physical predictions of a gauge theory can only be obtained under a coherent prescription for suppressing or ignoring these unphysical degrees of freedom.

The **electric-field integral equation** is a relationship that allows the calculation of an electric field (**E**) generated by an electric current distribution (**J**).

The **Grad–Shafranov equation** is the equilibrium equation in ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) for a two dimensional plasma, for example the axisymmetric toroidal plasma in a tokamak. This equation takes the same form as the Hicks equation from fluid dynamics. This equation is a two-dimensional, nonlinear, elliptic partial differential equation obtained from the reduction of the ideal MHD equations to two dimensions, often for the case of toroidal axisymmetry. Taking as the cylindrical coordinates, the flux function is governed by the equation,

The **electromagnetic wave equation** is a second-order partial differential equation that describes the propagation of electromagnetic waves through a medium or in a vacuum. It is a three-dimensional form of the wave equation. The homogeneous form of the equation, written in terms of either the electric field **E** or the magnetic field **B**, takes the form:

The covariant formulation of classical electromagnetism refers to ways of writing the laws of classical electromagnetism in a form that is manifestly invariant under Lorentz transformations, in the formalism of special relativity using rectilinear inertial coordinate systems. These expressions both make it simple to prove that the laws of classical electromagnetism take the same form in any inertial coordinate system, and also provide a way to translate the fields and forces from one frame to another. However, this is not as general as Maxwell's equations in curved spacetime or non-rectilinear coordinate systems.

In electromagnetism and applications, an **inhomogeneous electromagnetic wave equation**, or **nonhomogeneous electromagnetic wave equation**, is one of a set of wave equations describing the propagation of electromagnetic waves generated by nonzero source charges and currents. The source terms in the wave equations makes the partial differential equations *inhomogeneous*, if the source terms are zero the equations reduce to the homogeneous electromagnetic wave equations. The equations follow from Maxwell's equations.

There are various **mathematical descriptions of the electromagnetic field** that are used in the study of electromagnetism, one of the four fundamental interactions of nature. In this article, several approaches are discussed, although the equations are in terms of electric and magnetic fields, potentials, and charges with currents, generally speaking.

The intent of this article is to highlight the important points of the **derivation of the Navier–Stokes equations** as well as its application and formulation for different families of fluids.

In electrodynamics, the **retarded potentials** are the electromagnetic potentials for the electromagnetic field generated by time-varying electric current or charge distributions in the past. The fields propagate at the speed of light *c*, so the delay of the fields connecting cause and effect at earlier and later times is an important factor: the signal takes a finite time to propagate from a point in the charge or current distribution to another point in space, see figure below.

The theory of special relativity plays an important role in the modern theory of classical electromagnetism. First of all, it gives formulas for how electromagnetic objects, in particular the electric and magnetic fields, are altered under a Lorentz transformation from one inertial frame of reference to another. Secondly, it sheds light on the relationship between electricity and magnetism, showing that frame of reference determines if an observation follows electrostatic or magnetic laws. Third, it motivates a compact and convenient notation for the laws of electromagnetism, namely the "manifestly covariant" tensor form.

**Lagrangian field theory** is a formalism in classical field theory. It is the field-theoretic analogue of Lagrangian mechanics. Lagrangian mechanics is used for discrete particles each with a finite number of degrees of freedom. Lagrangian field theory applies to continua and fields, which have an infinite number of degrees of freedom.

- Duffin, W.J. (1990).
*Electricity and Magnetism, Fourth Edition*. McGraw-Hill.

- Feynman, Richard P; Leighton, Robert B; Sands, Matthew (1964).
*The Feynman Lectures on Physics Volume 2*. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-02117-X.

- Jackson, John David (1999),
*Classical Electrodynamics*(3rd ed.), John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-30932-X

- Kraus, John D. (1984),
*Electromagnetics*(3rd ed.), McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-035423-5

- Ulaby, Fawwaz (2007).
*Fundamentals of Applied Electromagnetics, Fifth Edition*. Pearson Prentice Hall. pp. 226–228. ISBN 0-13-241326-4.

- Vanderlinde, Jack (2005).
*Classical Electromagnetic Theory*. ISBN 1-4020-2699-4.

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