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• A-Level Further Maths

Elasticity & Collisions

According to Hooke's Law, tension, T, is directly proportional to extension, x, in elastic strings and springs:

T = kx

The constant of proportionality, k, depends on two things: the modulus of elasticity, λ, of the material, and its unstretched, natural length, l:

• Note: natural length is noted with a lowercase 'L' - do not confuse this with an uppercase 'i'. The font of these note sheets is not massively helpful here, so sorry!

Tension, T, is a force so is measured in Newtons. Extension and length are both distances, measured in metres. This gives the modulus of elasticity must also be measured in Newtons.

Strings can be compressed as well as stretched. In this instance, Hooke's law still applies but the force in the spring, thrust (helpfully also written as T), acts the other way.

Modelling

For all questions, strings and springs are modelled as light. This means you do not take into account its weight. See the notes sheet on modelling in mechanics for single maths - the same rules apply.

Elastic Potential Energy

When an elastic string or spring is stretched or compressed, it stores elastic potential energy within it. This is equal to the work done in stretching/compressing the string/spring.

The work done is represented by the area under a force-extension graph:

Using the equation for the area of a right-angled triangle, A = ½ab, we can find the equation for the elastic potential energy stored in an elastic system: