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Potential Difference

It is often more convenient to consider the electrostatic potential V rather than electric field as the motivating influence for the flow of electric charge. The generalized vector properties of are usually unimportant. The change in potential dV across a distance in an electric field is

A positive charge will move from a higher to a lower potential. The potential is also referred to as the potential difference or, incorrectly, as just voltage:

Remember that current flowing in a conductor is due to a potential difference between its ends. Electrons move from a point of less positive potential to more positive potential and the current flows in the opposite direction.

The SI unit of potential difference is the volt (V).

Doug Gingrich
Tue Jul 13 16:55:15 EDT 1999