Understanding Static Electricity

Buzzle Staff Feb 17, 2019
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Static electricity, which explicitly means 'electricity at rest', is defined as the deposition of electrical charges or electrons on the surface of a material.
Static electricity is generally caused when a material is rubbed against the surface of another material. Though electrical charges are present, they do not constitute to form alternating current or direct current. Hence, these are referred to as 'static' which, as mentioned before, explicitly means 'electricity at rest'.

Causes

When two materials come into physical contact against each other, electrons are shifted from the surface of one material to the other. The material which supplies the electrons attains extra positive charges called protons, and the material which gains the electrons attains extra negative charges called neutrons.
The process doesn't purely mean the conduction of electricity. It is found that most materials that have the ability to exhibit static are nonconductors of electricity.

Proof

It is well known that opposite charges attract each other, whereas like charges repel each other. Therefore, the existence can be proved if an object with static electrons on its surface attracts another object which has electrons of the opposite charge.
Consider a metal rod which is initially neutral with equal amounts of positive and negative charges. When the rod is rubbed against a rough surface for a while, it is bound to achieve positive charges on its surface.
Now, it is taken near a small metal bead which is neutral. The rod is found to attract the bead. The same rod, when taken near another metal bead which has been rubbed against a metal surface and made to conduct negative charges, is found to push away the bead.

Effects

With the help of experiments, it has been found that an object which has electrons deposited on it attracts an oppositely charged object with a greater attraction than an object with neutral charges. This is because the strong molecular bonding of the electrons with the surface of the material keeps the electrons intact.
But when an oppositely charged object is brought near it, the electrons are attracted with a greater force and they break the strong molecular bonding and jump across to the other object.
When more and more electrons move across the objects, the air surrounded by them heats up and this induces the other electrons to switch over to the receptor object. This eventually leads to a situation where both elements acquire neutral charges.
Since static electricity is an inter - combination of electric charges on two materials that are separated from each other, there is a high probability of small electrical and electronic components getting damaged due to its impact. Hence, manufacturers of such devices have started using a number of anti - static devices to avoid the effect.