potential difference ⇝
(Or "potential difference", "electro-motive force" (EMF)) A quantity measured as a signed difference between two points in an electrical circuit which, when divided by the resistance in Ohms between those points, gives the current flowing between those points in Amperes, according to Ohm's Law. Voltage is expressed as a signed number of Volts (V). The voltage gradient in Volts per metre is proportional to the force on a charge.Voltages are often given relative to "earth" or "ground" which is taken to be at zero Volts. A circuit's earth may or may not be electrically connected to the actual earth. The voltage between two points is also given by the charge present between those points in Coulombs divided by the capacitance in Farads. The capacitance in turn depends on the dielectric constant of the insulators present. Yet another law gives the voltage across a piece of circuit as its inductance in Henries multiplied by the rate of change of current flow through it in Amperes per second. A simple analogy likens voltage to the pressure of water in a pipe. Current is likened to the amount of water (charge) flowing per unit time.
Last updated: 1995-12-04