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Not to be confused with Electric potential energy.

An electric potential (also called the electric field potential or the electrostatic potential) is the amount of electric potential energy that a unitary point electric charge would have if located at any point in space, and is equal to the work done by an electric field in carrying a unit positive charge from infinity to that point.

According to theoretical electromagnetics, electric potential is a scalar quantity denoted by Φ(Phi), ΦE or V, equal to the electric potential energy of any charged particle at any location (measured in joules) divided by the charge of that particle (measured in coulombs). By dividing out the charge on the particle a remainder is obtained that is a property of the electric field itself.

This value can be calculated in either a static (time-invariant) or a dynamic (varying with time) electric field at a specific time in units of joules per coulomb (J C), or volts (V). The electric potential at infinity is assumed to be zero.

A generalized electric scalar potential is also used in electrodynamics when time-varying electromagnetic fields are present, but this can not be so simply calculated. The electric potential and the magnetic vector potential together form a four vector, so that the two kinds of potential are mixed under Lorentz transformations.


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