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Electric Potential and Potential Difference

The electric (or "electrostatic") potential is analogous to temperature: There is a different temperature at every point in space, and the temperature difference tells you where heat flows. If there is no pressure difference then no water will flow from the water tank. Similarly, there is an electric potential at every point in space, and its difference (the electric field) tells you where the charges move.
 


If the electrical force moves the charge through a certain distance, then it is said to do work on that charge. The change in electric potential over this distance is defined as the work done by this force. Hence the electric potential difference between the two points can be defined as the work done to move a unit charge from one point to the other.




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

Definition of one Volt

One volt is the potential difference between the two points in a current carrying conductor when one joule of work is done to move a charge of one coulomb from one point to another point.




1V = 1 J C-1
 

A voltmeter can be used to measure the potential difference between the two points of a conductor in an electric circuit.





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