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What would happen if I bring an electron near a conductor ?? Charges should be induced, but since a charge cannot be smaller than that of an electron, what could possibly happen ??

Eg : Say I bring an electron near a conducting hollow sphere. Now the Electric field inside the sphere should be zero and charges need to be induced on it for this to happen but since the electron is the smallest charge we have, how would the Electric field inside become zero as fractional charges cannot be induced.

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One way of thinking about this kind of problem is that in the case you bring exactly one electron near the conductor, you will begin to see effects from the fact that any real conductor is made of atoms and the classical theory of a conductor is only an approximation.

The classical theory of conductor that you are used to is valid only in the regime in which charges involved are so large that we can have a continuum approximation. With a single electron, you will begin to see the atomic structure of the conductor in detail. The electron will polarize the ions in the conductor, modify the band structure slightly, but a single electron will not have much of an impact.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it, at a minimum, repulse an electron nearby in the conductor creating a positive charge? $\endgroup$ – Bob D May 25 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ Please read the community guidelines for what are called "homework-type questions". $\endgroup$ – StephenG May 25 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenG This is not a homework question. I had a thought of it when my teacher was explaining to me what happens when we bring a charge near a conductor $\endgroup$ – user232243 May 25 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @user232243 Homework problems:"This includes not just questions from actual homework assignments, but also self-study problems, puzzles, etc." $\endgroup$ – user79161 May 25 at 19:42
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If you bring 1 electron assuming very close to a conductor it will create non uniform charge distribution on the surface of the conductor.It(electron) should theoretically create (attract) a charge of 1.6*10^-19c(towards itself) and on the other side -1.6*10^-19c

Say it is placed in a hollow sphere. What would happen then. 

for a conducting sphere +p/+e charge would be induced inside the conductor as net charge inside a conductor = 0 whereas on surface it will create -e charge

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  • $\begingroup$ We are down to the quantum scale with a single electron, so we will have quantum effects rendering classical solutions inaccurate. $\endgroup$ – user79161 May 25 at 19:43

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