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Elastic Potential Energy Spring

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Solids include complex crystalline materials with sometimes complicated behavior. By contrast, the behavior of compressible fluids, and especially gases, demonstrates the essence of elastic energy with negligible complication. The simple thermodynamic formula: dU=−PdV ,{\displaystyle dU=-P\,dV\ ,} where dU is an infinitesimal change in recoverable internal energy U, P is the uniform pressure (a force per unit area) applied to the material sample of interest, and dV is the infinitesimal change in volume that corresponds to the change in internal energy. The minus sign appears because dV is negative under compression by a positive applied pressure which also increases the internal energy. Upon reversal, the work that is done by a system is the negative of the change in its internal energy corresponding to the positive dV of an increasing volume. In other words, the system loses stored internal energy when doing work on its surroundings. Pressure is stress and volumetric change corresponds to changing the relative spacing of points within the material. The stress-strain-internal energy relationship of the foregoing formula is repeated in formulations for elastic energy of solid materials with complicated crystalline structure.

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