Voltage

Last updated

Voltage
AA AAA AAAA A23 battery comparison-1.jpg
Batteries are sources of voltage in many electric circuits.
Common symbols
V , V , U , U
SI unit volt
Derivations from
other quantities
Voltage = Energy / charge
Dimension ML2T−3I−1

Voltage, electric potential difference, electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points. The difference in electric potential between two points (i.e., voltage) in a static electric field is defined as the work needed per unit of charge to move a test charge between the two points. In the International System of Units, the derived unit for voltage is named volt . [1] In SI units, work per unit charge is expressed as joules per coulomb, where 1 volt = 1 joule (of work) per 1 coulomb (of charge). The official SI definition for volt uses power and current, where 1 volt = 1 watt (of power) per 1 ampere (of current). [1] This definition is equivalent to the more commonly used 'joules per coulomb'. Voltage or electric potential difference is denoted symbolically by V, but more often simply as V, for instance in the context of Ohm's or Kirchhoff's circuit laws.

Contents

Electric potential differences between points can be caused by electric charge, by electric current through a magnetic field, by time-varying magnetic fields, or some combination of these three. [2] [3] A voltmeter can be used to measure the voltage (or potential difference) between two points in a system; often a common reference potential such as the ground of the system is used as one of the points. A voltage may represent either a source of energy (electromotive force) or lost, used, or stored energy (potential drop).

Definition

Voltage can be understood as a measure of how motivated electrons are to move through a circuit, between negatively and positively charged poles, although this is not a scientifically rigorous definition. [4] The higher the voltage, the more excited electrons are to move around and do work. It is akin to the pressure in a water system or the potential energy in a ball at the top of a hill, though neither of these analogies is perfect. [5] [6]

There are multiple useful ways to define voltage, including the standard definition mentioned at the start of this page. There are also other useful definitions of work per charge (see this section).

Roughly speaking, voltage is defined so that negatively charged objects are pulled towards higher voltages, while positively charged objects are pulled towards lower voltages. Therefore, the conventional current in a wire or resistor always flows from higher voltage to lower voltage.

Historically, voltage has been referred to using terms like "tension" and "pressure". Even today, the term "tension" is still used, for example within the phrase "high tension" (HT) which is commonly used in thermionic valve (vacuum tube) based electronics.

Definition as potential of electric field

The voltage increase from some point to some point is given by

The electric field around the rod exerts a force on the charged pith ball, in an electroscope Opfindelsernes bog3 fig282.png
The electric field around the rod exerts a force on the charged pith ball, in an electroscope

In this case, the voltage increase from point A to point B is equal to the work which would have to be done per unit charge, against the electric field, to move the charge from A to B without causing any acceleration. Mathematically, this is expressed as the line integral of the electric field along that path. Under this definition, the voltage difference between two points is not uniquely defined when there are time-varying magnetic fields since the electric force is not a conservative force in such cases.

In a static field, the work is independent of the path Electrostatic definition of voltage.svg
In a static field, the work is independent of the path

If this definition of voltage is used, any circuit where there are time-varying magnetic fields, [note 1] such as circuits containing inductors, will not have a well-defined voltage between nodes in the circuit. However, if magnetic fields are suitably contained to each component, then the electric field is conservative in the region exterior [note 2] to the components, and voltages are well-defined in that region. [7] In this case, the voltage across an inductor, viewed externally, turns out to be

despite the fact that, internally, the electric field in the coil is zero [7] (assuming it is a perfect conductor).

Definition via decomposition of electric field

Using the above definition, the electric potential is not defined whenever magnetic fields change with time. In physics, it's sometimes useful to generalize the electric potential by only considering the conservative part of the electric field. This is done by the following decomposition used in electrodynamics:

where is the magnetic vector potential. The above decomposition is justified by Helmholtz's theorem.

In this case, the voltage increase from to is given by

where is the rotational electric field due to time-varying magnetic fields. In this case, the voltage between points is always uniquely defined.

Treatment in circuit theory

In circuit analysis and electrical engineering, the voltage across an inductor is not considered to be zero or undefined, as the standard definition would suggest. This is because electrical engineers use a lumped element model to represent and analyze circuits.

When using a lumped element model, it is assumed that there are no magnetic fields in the region surrounding the circuit and that the effects of these are contained in 'lumped elements', which are idealized and self-contained circuit elements used to model physical components. [8] If the assumption of negligible leaked fields is too inaccurate, their effects can be modelled by parasitic components.

In the case of a physical inductor though, the ideal lumped representation is often accurate. This is because the leaked fields of the inductor are generally negligible, especially if the inductor is a toroid. If leaked fields are negligible, we find that

is path-independent, and there is a well-defined voltage across the inductor's terminals. [7] This is the reason that measurements with a voltmeter across an inductor are often reasonably independent of the placement of the test leads.

Volt

The volt (symbol: V) is the derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference, and electromotive force. The volt is named in honour of the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), who invented the voltaic pile, possibly the first chemical battery.

Hydraulic analogy

A simple analogy for an electric circuit is water flowing in a closed circuit of pipework, driven by a mechanical pump. This can be called a "water circuit". Potential difference between two points corresponds to the pressure difference between two points. If the pump creates a pressure difference between two points, then water flowing from one point to the other will be able to do work, such as driving a turbine. Similarly, work can be done by an electric current driven by the potential difference provided by a battery. For example, the voltage provided by a sufficiently-charged automobile battery can "push" a large current through the windings of an automobile's starter motor. If the pump isn't working, it produces no pressure difference, and the turbine will not rotate. Likewise, if the automobile's battery is very weak or "dead" (or "flat"), then it will not turn the starter motor.

The hydraulic analogy is a useful way of understanding many electrical concepts. In such a system, the work done to move water is equal to the pressure multiplied by the volume of water moved. Similarly, in an electrical circuit, the work done to move electrons or other charge-carriers is equal to "electrical pressure" multiplied by the quantity of electrical charges moved. In relation to "flow", the larger the "pressure difference" between two points (potential difference or water pressure difference), the greater the flow between them (electric current or water flow). (See "electric power".)

Applications

Working on high voltage power lines US Navy 110315-N-0278E-002 High-voltage electricians from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii reconfigure electrical circuitry and.jpg
Working on high voltage power lines

Specifying a voltage measurement requires explicit or implicit specification of the points across which the voltage is measured. When using a voltmeter to measure potential difference, one electrical lead of the voltmeter must be connected to the first point, one to the second point.

A common use of the term "voltage" is in describing the voltage dropped across an electrical device (such as a resistor). The voltage drop across the device can be understood as the difference between measurements at each terminal of the device with respect to a common reference point (or ground). The voltage drop is the difference between the two readings. Two points in an electric circuit that are connected by an ideal conductor without resistance and not within a changing magnetic field have a voltage of zero. Any two points with the same potential may be connected by a conductor and no current will flow between them.

Addition of voltages

The voltage between A and C is the sum of the voltage between A and B and the voltage between B and C. The various voltages in a circuit can be computed using Kirchhoff's circuit laws.

When talking about alternating current (AC) there is a difference between instantaneous voltage and average voltage. Instantaneous voltages can be added for direct current (DC) and AC, but average voltages can be meaningfully added only when they apply to signals that all have the same frequency and phase.

Measuring instruments

Multimeter set to measure voltage 9VBatteryWithMeter.jpg
Multimeter set to measure voltage

Instruments for measuring voltages include the voltmeter, the potentiometer, and the oscilloscope. Analog voltmeters, such as moving-coil instruments, work by measuring the current through a fixed resistor, which, according to Ohm's Law, is proportional to the voltage across the resistor. The potentiometer works by balancing the unknown voltage against a known voltage in a bridge circuit. The cathode-ray oscilloscope works by amplifying the voltage and using it to deflect an electron beam from a straight path, so that the deflection of the beam is proportional to the voltage.

Typical voltages

A common voltage for flashlight batteries is 1.5 volts (DC). A common voltage for automobile batteries is 12 volts (DC).

Common voltages supplied by power companies to consumers are 110 to 120 volts (AC) and 220 to 240 volts (AC). The voltage in electric power transmission lines used to distribute electricity from power stations can be several hundred times greater than consumer voltages, typically 110 to 1200 kV (AC).

The voltage used in overhead lines to power railway locomotives is between 12 kV and 50 kV (AC) or between 0.75 kV and 3 kV (DC).

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. [9] The quantity measured by a voltmeter is the negative of the difference of the electrochemical potential of electrons (Fermi level) divided by the electron charge and commonly referred to as the voltage difference, while the pure unadjusted electrostatic potential (not measurable with a voltmeter) 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.

History

The term electromotive force was first used by Volta in a letter to Giovanni Aldini in 1798, and first appeared in a published paper in 1801 in Annales de chimie et de physique . [10] :408 Volta meant by this a force that was not an electrostatic force, specifically, an electrochemical force. [10] :405 The term was taken up by Michael Faraday in connection with electromagnetic induction in the 1820s. However, a clear definition of voltage and method of measuring it had not been developed at this time. [11] :554 Volta distinguished electromotive force (emf) from tension (potential difference): the observed potential difference at the terminals of an electrochemical cell when it was open circuit must exactly balance the emf of the cell so that no current flowed. [10] :405

See also

Related Research Articles

Ammeter electric measuring instrument

An ammeter is a measuring instrument used to measure the current in a circuit. Electric currents are measured in amperes (A), hence the name. Instruments used to measure smaller currents, in the milliampere or microampere range, are designated as milliammeters or microammeters. Early ammeters were laboratory instruments which relied on the Earth's magnetic field for operation. By the late 19th century, improved instruments were designed which could be mounted in any position and allowed accurate measurements in electric power systems. It is generally represented by letter 'A' in a circuit.

The centimetre–gram–second system of units is a variant of the metric system based on the centimetre as the unit of length, the gram as the unit of mass, and the second as the unit of time. All CGS mechanical units are unambiguously derived from these three base units, but there are several different ways in which the CGS system was extended to cover electromagnetism.

Inductor Passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in its magnetic field

An inductor, also called a coil, choke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil around a core.

Volt SI derived unit of voltage

The volt is the derived unit for electric potential, electric potential difference (voltage), and electromotive force. It is named after the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745–1827).

Voltmeter instrument used for measuring electrical potential difference

A voltmeter is an instrument used for measuring electrical potential difference between two points in an electric circuit. Analog voltmeters move a pointer across a scale in proportion to the voltage of the circuit; digital voltmeters give a numerical display of voltage by use of an analog to digital converter.

Ohms law relationship between voltage and current across an ideal resistor

Ohm's law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the voltage across the two points. Introducing the constant of proportionality, the resistance, one arrives at the usual mathematical equation that describes this relationship:

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.

Electromagnetic induction production of voltage by a varying magnetic field

Electromagnetic or magnetic induction is the production of an electromotive force across an electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field.

Magnetic flux surface integral of the magnetic flux density

In physics, specifically electromagnetism, the magnetic flux through a surface is the surface integral of the normal component of the magnetic field flux density B passing through that surface. The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber, and the CGS unit is the maxwell. Magnetic flux is usually measured with a fluxmeter, which contains measuring coils and electronics, that evaluates the change of voltage in the measuring coils to calculate the measurement of magnetic flux.

Electromotive force scalar physical quantity

Electromotive force, is the electrical action produced by a non-electrical source. A device that converts other forms of energy into electrical energy, such as a battery or generator, provides an emf as its output. Sometimes an analogy to water "pressure" is used to describe electromotive force.

Electrostatics branch of physics that studies electric charge at rest

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

Thermoelectric effect direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice versa

The thermoelectric effect is the direct conversion of temperature differences to electric voltage and vice versa via a thermocouple. Thermoelectric devices create a voltage when there is a different temperature on each side. Conversely, when a voltage is applied to it, heat is transferred from one side to the other, creating a temperature difference. At the atomic scale, an applied temperature gradient causes charge carriers in the material to diffuse from the hot side to the cold side.

Faradays law of induction Basic law of electromagnetism of magnetic fields inducing a potential difference

Faraday's law of induction is a basic law of electromagnetism predicting how a magnetic field will interact with an electric circuit to produce an electromotive force (EMF)—a phenomenon known as electromagnetic induction. It is the fundamental operating principle of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors, generators and solenoids.

A magnetic circuit is made up of one or more closed loop paths containing a magnetic flux. The flux is usually generated by permanent magnets or electromagnets and confined to the path by magnetic cores consisting of ferromagnetic materials like iron, although there may be air gaps or other materials in the path. Magnetic circuits are employed to efficiently channel magnetic fields in many devices such as electric motors, generators, transformers, relays, lifting electromagnets, SQUIDs, galvanometers, and magnetic recording heads.

Breakdown voltage

The breakdown voltage of an insulator is the minimum voltage that causes a portion of an insulator to become electrically conductive.

Electrical work is the work done on a charged particle by an electric field. The equation for 'electrical' work is equivalent to that of 'mechanical' work:

Electric power the rate per unit of time at which electrical energy is transferred by an electric circuit

Electric power is the rate, per unit time, at which electrical energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt, one joule per second.

In circuit theory, flux linkage is a property of a two-terminal element. It is an extension rather than an equivalent of magnetic flux and is defined as a time integral

Most of the terms listed in Wikipedia glossaries are already defined and explained within Wikipedia itself. However, glossaries like this one are useful for looking up, comparing and reviewing large numbers of terms together. You can help enhance this page by adding new terms or writing definitions for existing ones.

Electromagnetism is the study of forces between charged particles, electromagnetic fields, electric (scalar) potentials, magnetic vector potentials, the behavior of conductors and insulators in fields, circuits, magnetism, and electromagnetic waves. An understanding of electromagnetism is important for practical applications like electrical engineering and chemistry. In addition, concepts taught in courses on electromagnetism provide a basis for more advanced material in physics, such as quantum field theory and general relativity. This article focuses on a conceptual understanding of the topics rather than the details of the mathematics involved.

References

  1. 1 2 International Bureau of Weights and Measures (2006), The International System of Units (SI) (PDF) (8th ed.), ISBN   92-822-2213-6, archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-08-14, p. 144
  2. Demetrius T. Paris and F. Kenneth Hurd, Basic Electromagnetic Theory, McGraw-Hill, New York 1969, ISBN   0-07-048470-8, pp. 512, 546
  3. P. Hammond, Electromagnetism for Engineers, p. 135, Pergamon Press 1969 OCLC   854336.
  4. Shaked, Uri (2018-10-09). "So what is Voltage, anyway?". Medium. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  5. "Water circuit analogy to electric circuit". hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  6. "Basic electrical quantities: current, voltage, power (article)". Khan Academy. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  7. 1 2 3 R. Feynman; et al. "The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol. II Ch. 22: AC Circuits". Caltech. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  8. A. Agarwal & J. Lang (2007). "Course materials for 6.002 Circuits and Electronics" (PDF). MIT OpenCourseWare. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  9. Bagotskii, Vladimir Sergeevich (2006). Fundamentals of electrochemistry. p. 22. ISBN   978-0-471-70058-6.
  10. 1 2 3 Robert N. Varney, Leon H. Fisher, "Electromotive force: Volta's forgotten concept", American Journal of Physics, vol. 48, iss. 5, pp. 405–408, May 1980.
  11. C. J. Brockman, "The origin of voltaic electricity: The contact vs. chemical theory before the concept of E. M. F. was developed", Journal of Chemical Education, vol. 5, no. 5, pp. 549–555, May 1928

Footnotes

  1. If there are time-varying electric fields or accelerating charges, then there will be time-varying magnetic fields. This means in AC circuits, there are always some non-confined magnetic fields. However, except at higher frequencies, these are neglected.
  2. This relies on the fact that each component has a finite volume. If a component had an infinite extent, the region exterior to the components would not be simply connected, and thus integrals through it would still depend on the path taken.