# The electric field of a capacitor

Just a quick update on this blog post on visualizing the electric field of a multipole arrangement of electric charges to visualize the electric field of a capacitor (two oppositely-charged plates, separated by a distance $d$). The code, which uses Matplotlib's streamplot function to visualize the electric field from the plates, modelled as rows of discrete point charges, is below.

The electric field of a capacitor (plates separated by $d=2$): import sys
import numpy as np
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt
from matplotlib.patches import Circle

WIDTH, HEIGHT, DPI = 700, 700, 100

def E(q, r0, x, y):
"""Return the electric field vector E=(Ex,Ey) due to charge q at r0."""
den = ((x-r0)**2 + (y-r0)**2)**1.5
return q * (x - r0) / den, q * (y - r0) / den

# Grid of x, y points
nx, ny = 128, 128
x = np.linspace(-5, 5, nx)
y = np.linspace(-5, 5, ny)
X, Y = np.meshgrid(x, y)

# Create a capacitor, represented by two rows of nq opposite charges separated
# by distance d. If d is very small (e.g. 0.1), this looks like a polarized
# disc.
nq, d = 20, 2
charges = []
for i in range(nq):
charges.append((1, (i/(nq-1)*2-1, -d/2)))
charges.append((-1, (i/(nq-1)*2-1, d/2)))

# Electric field vector, E=(Ex, Ey), as separate components
Ex, Ey = np.zeros((ny, nx)), np.zeros((ny, nx))
for charge in charges:
ex, ey = E(*charge, x=X, y=Y)
Ex += ex
Ey += ey

fig = plt.figure(figsize=(WIDTH/DPI, HEIGHT/DPI), facecolor='k')

# Plot the streamlines with an appropriate colormap and arrow style
color = np.log(np.sqrt(Ex**2 + Ey**2))
ax.streamplot(x, y, Ex, Ey, color=color, linewidth=1, cmap=plt.cm.plasma,
density=3, arrowstyle='->')

# Add filled circles for the charges themselves
charge_colors = {True: '#aa0000', False: '#0000aa'}
for q, pos in charges:

ax.set_xlabel('$x$')
ax.set_ylabel('$y$')
ax.set_xlim(-5,5)
ax.set_ylim(-5,5)
ax.set_aspect('equal')
plt.savefig('capacitor.png', dpi=DPI)
plt.show()


The electric field of a polarized disc (plates separated by $d=0.1$): Current rating: 4.8 #### Baudouin DILLMANN 9 months ago

Great job,

by

Currently unrated #### christian 9 months ago

Thank you.

It shouldn't be necessary to specify 111 for the add_subplot function (this is the default), but I did want the background colour of the Axes to be black. If the code is not working for you, you might need to upgrade your version of Matplotlib.
Cheers, Christian