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Potential energy

Potential energy $$(E_{\text{p}})$$ or $$(U)$$ is the energy stored in a system due to the arrangement of objects or particles within it.

Subcategories of potential energy include gravitational potential energy, electric potential energy and elastic potential energy.

  • The gravitational potential energy is the energy possessed by a mass due to its position in the gravitational field of other masses.

    Picking up a glass from the floor and placing it on a table increases its gravitational potential energy.

  • Similarly the electric potential energy is the energy possessed by a charge due to its position in the electric field of other charges.

    An electron that is bound to an atom has electric potential energy.

  • The elastic potential energy is the energy stored in a system (typically a solid) due to its deformation (i.e. change in volume or shape).

    A stretched rubber band stores elastic potential energy.