This is the definition of potential difference and a look a the unit used to measure it. Potential difference is what we use to generate current and to make it do what we want it to. Batteries serve as a constant source of potential difference in order. By definition, the electric potential difference is the difference in electric potential (V) between the final and the initial location when work is done upon a charge.


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Thus, the body can do the work by exerting a force of attraction or repulsion on potential difference definition other charged particles. The capacity of the charged body to do work determines the electrical potential on it. The measure of the electrical potential is the work done to charge a body to one coulomb, i.

Hence a body is said to have an electrical potential of potential difference definition volt if one joule of work is done to charge the body to one coulomb.

Electric Potential Difference The electrical potential difference is defined as the amount of work done to carrying a unit charge from one point to another in an electric field.

Potential Difference | Definition of Potential Difference by Merriam-Webster

In other words, the potential difference is defined as the difference in the electric potential of the two potential difference definition bodies. In the previous part of Lesson 1, the concept of electric potential was applied to a simple battery-powered electric circuit.


In that discussionit was explained that work must be done on a positive test charge to move it through the cells from the negative terminal to the potential difference definition terminal.

This work would increase the potential energy of the charge and thus increase its electric potential.

Potential difference

As the positive test charge moves through the external circuit from the positive terminal to the negative terminal, it decreases its electric potential energy and thus is at low potential by the time it returns to the negative terminal.

If a 12 volt battery is used in the circuit, then every coulomb of potential difference definition is gaining 12 joules of potential energy as it moves through the battery. And similarly, every coulomb of charge loses 12 joules of electric potential energy as it passes through the external circuit.

The loss of this electric potential energy in the external circuit results in a gain in light energy, thermal energy and other forms of non-electrical energy. With a clear understanding of electric potential difference, the role of an electrochemical cell or collection of cells i.

Electric Potential Difference

The cells simply supply the energy to do work upon the charge to move it from the negative terminal to the positive terminal. By providing energy to the charge, the cell is capable of maintaining an electric potential difference across the two ends of the external circuit.

Once the charge has reached the high potential terminal, it will naturally flow through the wires to the low potential terminal. The movement of charge through an electric circuit is analogous to the movement of water at a water park or the movement of roller coaster cars at an amusement park.

In each analogy, work must be done on the water or the roller coaster cars to move it from a location of low gravitational potential to a location of high gravitational potential. Once the water or the roller coaster cars reach high gravitational potential, potential difference definition naturally move downward back to the low potential location.

For a water ride or a roller coaster ride, the task of lifting the water or coaster cars to high potential requires energy. The energy is supplied by a motor-driven water pump potential difference definition a motor-driven chain.

In a battery-powered electric circuit, the cells serve the role of the charge pump to supply energy to the charge to lift it from the low potential position through the cell to the high potential position. It is often convenient to speak of an electric circuit such as the simple circuit discussed here as having two parts - an internal circuit and an potential difference definition circuit.

The internal circuit is the part of the circuit where energy is being supplied to the charge. For the simple battery-powered circuit that we have been referring to, the portion of the circuit containing the electrochemical cells is the internal circuit.

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The external circuit is the part of the circuit where charge is moving outside the cells through the wires on its path from the high potential terminal to the low potential terminal. The potential difference definition of charge through the internal circuit requires energy since it is an uphill movement in a direction that is against the electric field.

The movement of charge through the external circuit is natural since it is a movement in the direction of the electric field. When at the positive terminal of an electrochemical cell, a positive test charge is at a high electric pressure in the same manner that water at a water park is at a high water pressure after being pumped to the top of a water slide.