The application of an electrical potential between two metal plates or electrodes causes an electric field to be established in the insulation or dielectric between the electrodes, in the manner of figure 4.1a. The electric field is represented by imaginary lines, each of which shows the path that would be traced out by the movement of a free electric charge. The direction of the electric field at any point is given by the direction of the force experienced by a unit positive charge placed at that point.
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