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Electric Field

Around every electrically charged object is a force field that can be detected and measured. This force field can cause electric charges to move in the field. When an object is charged electrically, there is either a greater or a smaller concentration of electrons than normal. Thus, a difference of potential exists between a charged object and an uncharged object. An electric field is, therefore, associated with a difference of potential, or a voltage.

This invisible field of force is commonly represented by lines that are drawn to show the paths along which the force acts. The lines representing the electric field are drawn in the direction that a single positive charge would normally move under the influence of that field. A large electric force is shown by a large concentration of lines; a weak force is indicated by a few lines.

When a capacitor is connected across a source of voltage, such as a battery, it is charged by a particular amount, depending on the voltage and the value of capacitance. (See figure 1-25.) Because of the emf (electromotive force) of the battery, negative charges flow to the lower plate, leaving the upper plate positively charged. Along with the growth of charge, the electric field is also building up. The flux lines are directed from the positive to the negative charges and at right angles to the plates. When the capacitor is fully charged, the voltage of the capacitor is equal to the voltage of the source and opposite in polarity. The charged capacitor stores the energy in the form of an electric field. It can be said, therefore, that an electric field indicates voltage.

Figure 1-25. - Electric fields between plates.

If the two plates of the capacitor are spread farther apart, the electric field must curve to meet the plates at right angles (fig. 1-26). The straight lines in view A of figure 1-26 become arcs in view B, and approximately semicircles in view C, where the plates are in a straight line. Instead of flat metal plates, as in the capacitor, the two elements can take the form of metal rods or wires and form the basic antenna.

Figure 1-26. - Electric fields between plates at different angles.

In figure 1-27, two rods replace the plates of the capacitor, and the battery is replaced by an ac source generating a 60-hertz signal. On the positive alternation of the 60-hertz generator, the electric field extends from the positively charged rod to the negatively charged rod, as shown. On the negative alternation, the charge is reversed. The previous explanation of electrons moving from one plate to the other of the capacitor in figure 1-25 can also be applied to the rods in figure 1-27.

Figure 1-27. - Electric fields between elements.

The polarity of charges and the direction of the electric fields will reverse polarity and direction periodically at the frequency of the voltage source. The electric field will build up from zero to maximum in one direction and then collapse back to zero. Next, the field will build up to maximum in the opposite direction and then collapse back to zero. This complete reversal occurs during a single cycle of the source voltage. The HALF-WAVE DIPOLE ANTENNA (two separate rods in line as illustrated in figure 1-27) is the fundamental element normally used as a starting point of reference in any discussion concerning the radiation of electromagnetic energy into space. If rf energy from the ac generator (or transmitter) is supplied to the element of an antenna, the voltage across the antenna lags the current by 90 degrees. The antenna acts as if it were a capacitor.

Magnetic Field

When current flows through a conductor, a magnetic field is set up in the area surrounding the conductor. In fact, any moving electrical charge will create a magnetic field. The magnetic field is a region in space where a magnetic force can be detected and measured. There are two other fields involved - an INDUCTION FIELD, which exists close to the conductor carrying the current, and the RADIATION FIELD, which becomes detached from the current-carrying rod and travels through space.

To represent the magnetic field, lines of force are again used to illustrate the energy. Magnetic lines are not drawn between the rods, nor between high- and low-potential points, as the E lines that were discussed earlier. Magnetic lines are created by the flow of current rather than the force of voltage. The magnetic lines of force, therefore, are drawn at right angles to the direction of current flow.

The magnetic fields that are set up around two parallel rods, as shown in figure 1-28 view A, are in maximum opposition. Rod 1 contains a current flowing from the generator, while rod 2 contains a current flowing toward the generator. As a result, the direction of the magnetic field surrounding rod 1 is opposite the direction of the magnetic field surrounding rod 2. This will cause cancellation of part or all of both magnetic fields with a resultant decrease in radiation of the electromagnetic energy. View B illustrates the fact that if the far ends of rods 1 and 2 are separated from each other while the rods are still connected to the generator at the near ends, more space, and consequently less opposition, will occur between the magnetic fields of the two rods. View C illustrates the fact that placing the rods in line makes the currents through both rods flow in the same direction. Therefore, the two magnetic fields are in the same direction; thus, maximum electromagnetic radiation into space can be obtained.

Figure 1-28. - Magnetic fields around elements.

Magnetic lines of force are indicated by the letter H and are called H lines. The direction of the magnetic lines may be determined by use of the left-hand rule for a conductor: If you grasp the conductor in your left hand with the thumb extended in the direction of the current flow, your fingers will point in the direction of the magnetic lines of force. In view C of figure 1-28, the direction of current flow is upward along both halves of the elements (conductors). The lines of magnetic force (flux) form concentric loops that are perpendicular to the direction of current flow. The arrowheads on the loops indicate the direction of the field. The left-hand rule is used to determine the direction of the magnetic field and is illustrated in figure 1-29. If the thumb of the left hand is extended in the direction of current flow and the fingers clenched, then the rough circles formed by the fingers indicate the direction of the magnetic field.

Figure 1-29. - Left-hand rule for conducting elements.

Q.46 What do we call the field that is created between two rods when a voltage is applied to them? answer.gif (214 bytes)
Q.47 When current flows through a conductor, a field is created around the conductor. What do we call this field? answer.gif (214 bytes)

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