General, Research, Technology

What causes static electricity?

Perhaps there is no man on the planetwhich in one way or another did not encounter the manifestation of static electricity in everyday life: a wool sweater, a TV, or even a plastic comb, combing which hair literally stands on end, can become its source. However, is there a scientific explanation for such an unusual process and can it be used with advantage in everyday life?

Manifestations of static electricity can often be found in everyday life.

What is static electricity?

The existence of electricity was still knownseveral thousand years ago, when the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician Thales of Miletus was the first who was able to describe in detail the manifestations of a static charge. At the same time, only modern researchers working at the nanoscale have made a huge step forward in searching for an understanding of why the friction of two surfaces against each other can lead to current.

No matter how smooth it canone or another surface looks, with a certain approximation, even on the smoothest structure, you can notice irregularities and roughness. Every surface, from balloons to fibers, such as wool or hair, is covered with microscopic pits, which are responsible for the occurrence of static electricity. Christopher Mizzy, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering at Northwestern University of Illinois, argues that absolutely all objects in the universe can be compared to our planet, which, although it seems like an absolutely smooth blue ball from space, is actually a place with extremely diverse the landscape.

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According to an article published on the portallivescience.com, namely the presence of roughnesses, elements of the “landscape” of the material, together with their active interaction with each other, creates the very type of energy during friction, which is called triboelectricity in official science.

Static electricity is one of the most common types of energy in nature.

One of the most unusual qualities of staticelectricity is the ease of its production using materials that limit electricity and are known to mankind as insulators. The most common insulators on Earth are rubber, wool and hair, which do not allow charged electrons to move further, but suppress them. At the same time, static electricity also arises when sharpnesses in insulators rub against each other, creating interference for electronic clouds. Since electrons in insulators cannot easily move, this friction can distort electronic clouds, deforming them and giving them an asymmetric shape. So, in some circumstances, the resulting shape of the electron cloud can unevenly distribute the voltage across the entire surface of the material. In everyday life, this phenomenon can clearly manifest itself if you decide to walk in woolen socks on the carpet. In this case, the friction of materials will cause roughness to bend on both active surfaces, deforming the electron clouds and causing a slight difference in stress, which can occur just when you touch a door handle or another person.

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The authors of the study believe that the newfoundUnderstanding the work of static electricity can help develop a new type of useful tissue that can produce friction energy to recharge mobile devices and other small equipment. In addition, it is static electricity that can help us in creating safe production environments with the best fire suppression due to the presence of fine dust in the premises.