While determining the electric field due to a uniformly charged conducting or non-conducting sphere,does the sphere is considered hollow or it is considered solid?

Can anyone really state , what is meant by "thin spherical shell/thin sphere"?


2 Answers 2


Before we talk about the term "spherical shell" and "thin sphere", let us talk about the possible cases of the sphere itself.

Generally speaking, it depends on what is given to you.

  • If you have been given $\rho _s$, then probably it will be hallow.
  • If you have been given $\rho _v$, then definitely it will be solid.

Keep in mind that whether it was hallow or not, for a conducting sphere you will always have $\rho _v=0$ and all the charge distributed at the surface as $\rho _s$.

Now, a spherical-shell is simply a 3-D spherical shape defined as the region between two concentric (empty) spheres. Just like the area between two circles but in 3-D.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes,exactly for a conducting sphere the charges are always distributed at the surface,whether it is hollow or solid. Isnot it? $\endgroup$
    – user146181
    Sep 14, 2014 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ Yes , i got what a "spherical-shell" is.But i want to know what the word "thin" used to indicate when used before "spherical-shell"? $\endgroup$
    – user146181
    Sep 14, 2014 at 8:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In polar coordinates, a spherical shell is a region describable as $a<r<b$ i.e. it has finite "width" in the $r$ direction. Thin means that the shell is, well, thin, and we can treat it as a surface $r=c$. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Sep 14, 2014 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly Michael, nice explanation. $\endgroup$
    – Meshal
    Sep 14, 2014 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Can u state what does a and b signifies here?Does the r signifies radius? $\endgroup$
    – user146181
    Sep 15, 2014 at 19:20

A Charged Spherical shell

A charged spherical shell cut-away section may look like the image here, with thickness being very small relative to the diameter.The thickness is the conducting portion and the charges should be accumulated on the outside of this hollow sphere, with zero charge inside the hollow portion.


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