Electrical Engineering ⇒ Topic : The Superposition Principle
The Superposition Principle
If we are given two charges, the electrostatic force between them can be found by using Coulomb's laws. However, if a number of charges are present, the force on any charge due to the other charges can be found by superposition principle stated below
When a number of charges are present, the total force on a given charge is equal to the vector sum of the forces due to the remaining other charges on the given charge.
This simply means that we first find the force on the given charge (by Coulomb's laws) due to each of the other charges in turn. We then determine the total or net force on the given charge by finding the vector sum of all the forces.
Notes. (1) Consider two charges Q1 and Q2 located in air. If a third charge Q3, is brought nearby, it has been found experimentally that presence of the third charge (Q3) has no effect on the force between Q1 and Q2. This fact permits us to use superposition principle for electric forces.
(2) The superposition principle holds good for electric forces and electric fields. This fact has made the mathematical description of electrostatic phenomena simpler than it otherwise would be.
(3) We can use superposition principle to find (a) net force (b) net field (c) net flux (d) net potent al and (e) net potential energy due to a number of charges
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