Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Multiple Choice Questions on Magnetic Force on Moving Charges

Questions involving magnetic force on moving charges are included in most of the medical, engineering and other degree entrance examinations. Here are some simple questions which may easily tempt you to commit mistakes:

(1) The magnetic Lorentz force equation is F = q v×B. In this equation

(a) F, v and B must be mutually perpendicular.

(b) F must be perpendicular to v but not necessarily to B.

(c) F must be perpendicular to B but not necessarily to v.

(d) v must be perpendicular to both F and B

(e) F must be perpendicular to both B and v.

The equation F = q v×B gives the magnetic force F on a charge ‘q’ when it moves with velocity v in a magnetic field B. The angle between the velocity v and the field B can be any value, but the magnetic force F is at right angles to both v and B. So the correct option is (e).

[The vector product v×B which gives the force F indeed demands that F is at right angles to both v and B].

(2) A charged particle moving in the north east direction at right angles to a magnetic field experiences a force vertically upwards. This charged particle will not experience any force if it moves towards

(a) south west direction

(b) north

(c) east

(d) west

(e) north west

Since the magnetic force is vertical, the magnetic field must be horizontal.

Since the charged particle is moving in the north east direction at right angles to the magnetic field, it follows that the magnetic field must be directed either north west or south east (Fig.). So it will not experience any force if it moves towards north west or south east. The correct option is (e).

[You can use Fleming’s left hand rule to obtain the directions easily. See yourself that if the magnetic field in the above question is along the north west direction, the charge on the particle must be positive to obtain a vertically upward magnetic force. If the magnetic field in the above question is along the south east direction, the charge on the particle must be negative].

(3) A proton traveling vertically downwards experiences a southward force due to a magnetic field directed at right angles to its path.. An electron traveling northward in the same magnetic field will experience a magnetic force directed

(a) downwards

(b) upwards

(c) towards east

(d) towards west

(e) towards south east

Since the proton (which is positively charged) experiences a southward force while traveling vertically downwards, the perpendicular magnetic field must be acting towards the east.

[As required by Fleming’s left hand rule, hold the fore-finger, middle finger and thumb of your left hand in mutually perpendicular directions, with the middle finger pointing downwards (in the present case) and the thumb pointing southwards. The fore-finger then points towards the east].

If the proton were to move northward in this magnetic field, it would experience a downward magnetic force. Since the electron is negatively charged, it will experience an upward magnetic force [Option (b)]..

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