Energy in Materials

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Energies in Spring Systems

In a simple spring system under a load, the spring oscillates. The total energy of the system remains constant, but the components of this energy (kinetic, gravitational potential and elastic potential) can vary.

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Total energy

  • A spring system obeys the law of conservation of energy.
  • The total energy at all points in an oscillation is the same.
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Elastic potential energy

  • Elastic potential energy stored in a spring is:
    • E=12FΔLE = \frac{1}{2} F \Delta L
  • This is equal to the area under a force-extension graph.
  • Using Hooke's law (F=kΔLF = k\Delta L):
    • E=12k(ΔL)2E = \frac{1}{2} k (\Delta L)^2

Energy Conservation in Transport Design

Safety features of vehicles rely on specific material properties.

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Energy issues

  • In an impact (such as a car crash), a great deal of energy can be transferred to the passengers.
  • This could cause significant injury. Vehicles are designed to redirect this energy away from passengers.
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Crumple zones

  • Crumple zones are parts of a vehicle which permanently deform.
  • Crumple zones show plastic behaviour.
  • The energy of impact is redirected towards plastically deforming the crumple zones. So people are less likely to be injured.

Jump to other topics

1Measurements & Errors

2Particles & Radiation


4Mechanics & Materials


6Further Mechanics & Thermal Physics (A2 only)

7Fields & Their Consequences (A2 only)

8Nuclear Physics (A2 only)

9Option: Astrophysics (A2 only)

10Option: Medical Physics (A2 only)

11Option: Engineering Physics (A2 only)

12Option: Turning Points in Physics (A2 only)

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