Copyright

Superposition Theorem: Definition, Application & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Ampere: Definition & Calculation

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Superposition Theorem…
  • 2:21 Other Superposition…
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Malec

Chris has a PhD in Physics

This lesson describes the superposition theorem, an important concept in physics in general. Here, we will apply the theorem to electricity in general and point out some important applications.

Superposition Theorem Definition

The superposition principle applies to many areas of physics, but basically, it's a way to combine the electric fields of many charges together to make up a more complicated electric field. It is a great theorem because it makes things simpler instead of more complicated. How often does that happen! You can see the superposition principle in action when you watch multiple rain drops in a lake, or listen to multiple voices in a room.

In the case of rain on a lake, the ripples all go through each other; you can see many separate, circular ripples in the pond. Likewise, all the voices of people talking in a room can be heard at the same time. You can usually pay attention to only one, but any person you listen to will come through clearly. The sound waves do not run into each other. The superposition principle also applies to things we can't see, like electric fields.

Anything with an electric charge creates an electric field. An electric field is invisible, but applies force to anything else with an electric charge. You can think of it like there are many little notecards hanging in space, saying 'a charge q will experience a force qE at this point.' Remember, the electric field E is a vector and has both magnitude and direction. The electric field due to a charge q is easy to calculate, it is E = qr / (4 * pi * epsilon_0 * r^3) where epsilon_0 is a constant and r is the vector between the field point and the charge.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support