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Electric potential and potential difference

Tutormate > CBSE Syllabus-Class 10th Physics > Electric potential and potential difference

03 Electricity


  • The electric potential (or potential) at a point in an electric field is defined as the work done in moving a unit positive charge from infinity to that point, without any acceleration.
  • Electric Potential is similar to flow of water from one end of a tube connected to a tank at a higher level to another tank at the other end of the tube at a lower level.
  • Charge flows from a point of higher potential to a point of lower potential.
  • For any charge, electric potential is the electric potential energy divided by the quantity of charge.
  • As an object is lifted against gravity, it gains gravitational potential energy which is proportional to the work done to raise the object against gravitational pull.
  • Similarly, an object gains some electric potential energy as it is moved against the electric field.
  • This energy is proportional to the amount of work done in moving the object from one point to another against the electric field. The electric potential is taken as zero at infinity.


  • The potential difference between two points in an electric circuit is defined as the amount of work in moving a unit charge from one point to the other point.
  • It is expressed as:
    Potential difference = Work doneQuantity of charge moved
 Potential difference,       V = WQ


  • The SI unit of potential difference is volt.
  • The Potential difference between two points is said to be 1 volt if 1 joule of work is done in moving 1 coulomb of electric charge from one point to the other.
    1V = 1 J C1
  • Voltmeter: The potential difference is measured by means of an instrument called voltmeter whose terminals are connected across the points or parallel to the element whose potential is to be measured.

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