If a negatively charged object is brought near a neutral conductor, there would be an excess of positive charges on the side of the conductor near the charged object, while there would be an excess of negative charges on the other side.

Although I understand the concept of induction, but I am confused by the potential inside the conductor: would it have any potential difference between the two ends? I feel that the difference of charges would create an electric field, hence creating a potential difference, but the potential should be the same throughout a conductor. Where do I make a mistake? My guess is that because an arbitrary Gaussian surface inside the conductor does not include charges, so there is no actual electric field created.

Thanks in advance!


1 Answer 1


The electric field inside a conductor is zero (as long as no current is flowing).

Electric fields add, so the field inside the conductor is the sum of the external field plus the field created by the charge separation induced in the conductor. Everywhere inside the conductor the two fields have equal and opposite values so they sum to zero.

So you are quite correct that the charge separation in the conductor does produce an electric field. It's just that it produces exactly the field needed to cancel the external field everywhere in the conductor.


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