Ask a Physicist Answers

What is an electric dipole?


Electric dipole: A physical dipole with charge, equipotentials and electric fields indicated.
Generated by []
This file is licensed under the Creative CommonsAttribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

Answer: An electric dipole is two charged objects, with equal but opposite electric charges, that are separated by a distance. The electric field caused by a dipole falls off as the cube (third power) of the distance from the dipole, and has a directional variation that depends on whether you’re moving along the line separating the two charges or perpendicular to it. A dipole can be created, for example, when you place a neutral atom in an electric field, because the positively-charged constituents of the atom will be pulled one way, and the negatively-charged constituents the other way, creating a separation of charge in the direction of the field.

Answered by: 

Alan Chodos, PhD
Associate Executive Officer
The American Physical Society  

Submitted by: 

Mayank from India