Electric Field Generated by a Conducting Spherical Shell Enclosing a Charge

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This Demonstration shows a conducting spherical shell surrounding a charge. We can determine the surface density of the charge . The magnitude of the field outside the conductor is given by , where is the total charge on the outer surface of the sphere, is the permittivity of free space and is the distance from the center of the sphere to the point of measurement. The electric field inside the cavity is given by , where is the charge inside the cavity. Drag the locator to vary the point of measurement.

Contributed by: Jhon Chiliquinga (August 2020)
Additional contributions by: Fis. Fernando Moncada
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



It is well known that the electric field inside a conductor equals zero. By using Gauss's law, we can show that the excess charge in a conductor is located on its surface. If a conductor surrounds a cavity containing a charge, the conductor will be polarized in order to maintain a zero internal electric field. As a result, the cavity's surface acquires a charge equal in magnitude but with opposite sign from the inside charge.

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