potential energy

Potential energy is energy stored within a physical system. A mass held above the surface of the Earth has gravitational potential energy, two atoms bound in a molecule have chemical potential energy, and two electric charges separated by some distance have electric potential energy. Potential energy can be converted into other forms of energy. If you release the mass, its gravitational potential energy will be converted into kinetic energy as the mass accelerates downward. In the process, the gravitational force will do work on the mass. The force is proportional to the rate at which the potential energy changes. It is common practice to write physical theories in terms of potential energy, and derive forces and interactions from the potential.