In electrodynamics, Poynting's theorem is a statement of conservation of energy for electromagnetic fields developed by British physicist John Henry Poynting. It states that in a given volume, the stored energy changes at a rate given by the work done on the charges within the volume, minus the rate at which energy leaves the volume. It is only strictly true in media which is not dispersive, but can be extended for the dispersive case. The theorem is analogous to the work-energy theorem in classical mechanics, and mathematically similar to the continuity equation.
Poynting's theorem states that the rate of energy transfer per unit volume from a region of space equals the rate of work done on the charge distribution in the region, plus the energy flux leaving that region.
- is the rate of change of the energy density in the volume.
- ∇•S is the energy flow out of the volume, given by the divergence of the Poynting vector S.
- J•E is the rate at which the fields do work on charges in the volume (J is the current density corresponding to the motion of charge, E is the electric field, and • is the dot product).
Using the divergence theorem, Poynting's theorem can also be written in integral form:
- S is the energy flow, given by the Poynting Vector.
- is the energy density in the volume.
- is the boundary of the volume. The shape of the volume is arbitrary but fixed for the calculation.
Continuity Equation Analog
- ε0 is the vacuum permittivity and μ0 is the vacuum permeability.
- is the density of reactive power driving the build-up of electric field,
- is the density of reactive power driving the build-up of magnetic field, and
- is the density of electric power dissipated by the Lorentz force acting on charge carriers.
For an individual charge in an electromagnetic field, the rate of work done by the field on the charge is given by the Lorentz Force Law as:
Extending this to a continuous distribution of charges, moving with current density J, gives:
Substituting this into the expression for rate of work gives:
Using the vector identity :
By Faraday's Law:
Continuing the derivation requires the following assumptions:
- the charges are moving in a medium which is not dispersive.
- the total electromagnetic energy density, even for time-varying fields, is given by
It can be shown that:
Returning to the equation for rate of work,
Since the volume is arbitrary, this can be cast in differential form as:
Poynting vector in macroscopic media
In a macroscopic medium, electromagnetic effects are described by spatially averaged (macroscopic) fields. The Poynting vector in a macroscopic medium can be defined self-consistently with microscopic theory, in such a way that the spatially averaged microscopic Poynting vector is exactly predicted by a macroscopic formalism. This result is strictly valid in the limit of low-loss and allows for the unambiguous identification of the Poynting vector form in macroscopic electrodynamics.
It is possible to derive alternative versions of Poynting's theorem. Instead of the flux vector E × H as above, it is possible to follow the same style of derivation, but instead choose E × B, the Minkowski form D × B, or perhaps D × H. Each choice represents the response of the propagation medium in its own way: the E × B form above has the property that the response happens only due to electric currents, while the D × H form uses only (fictitious) magnetic monopole currents. The other two forms (Abraham and Minkowski) use complementary combinations of electric and magnetic currents to represent the polarization and magnetization responses of the medium.
The derivation of the statement is dependent on the assumption that the materials the equation models can be described by a set of susceptibility properties that are linear, isotropic, homogenous and independent of frequency. The assumption that the materials have no absorption must also be made. A modification to Poynting's theorem to account for variations includes a term for the rate of non-Ohmic absorption in a material, which can be calculated by a simplified approximation based on the Drude model.
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- Freeman, Richard; King, James; Lafyatis, Gregory (2019), "Essentials of Electricity and Magnetism", Electromagnetic Radiation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/oso/9780198726500.001.0001/oso-9780198726500-chapter-1#oso-9780198726500-chapter-1-displaymaths-20, ISBN 978-0-19-872650-0, retrieved 2022-02-18
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