# potential difference

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Related to Electric Potential Difference: electric current, Electric potential energy

## potential difference

## Potential Difference

The potential difference between two points of a steady-state electric or gravitational field is defined as the work done by the forces of the field when a unit positive charge or unit mass, respectively, is moved from the point with the higher potential to the point with the lower potential. If *Φ*_{1} and *Φ*_{2} are the potentials at the initial and the final points of the trajectory of the charge or mass being moved, then the potential difference is *u = Φ*_{1} - *Φ*_{2}, and the change in the potential is Δ*Φ* = *Φ*_{2} - *Φ*_{1} = - *u*.

The work done by an arbitrary electric field in moving a positive unit charge from one point to another is called the voltage between the points. In the case of a steady-state field, the voltage is the same as the potential difference.