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Find out about the power-house of all energy: Static Electricity

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What is static electricity?

If you rub a plastic scale and hold it near torn bits of paper, the scale attracts the pieces of paper. This happens due to static electricity. Static electricity is opposite to current electricity because it does not flow.

Materials are made of atoms, these atoms are electrically neutral due to the perfect balance of protons and electrons, the positive and negative charge. The phenomenon of static electricity requires a separation of positive and negative charges.

When two materials are in contact, electrons move from one material to the other, leaving the excess of positive charge on one material and an equal negative charge on the other. When the materials are separated they retain this charge imbalance. The charge remains stable until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge.

The surface that has a higher resistance to electric current is an electrical insulator. One can feel, hear, and even see the spark as the excess charge is neutralized in the presence of a conductor nearby.


Lightning is the most natural form of static electricity. The charge separation between ice particles and storm clouds creates a charge that can be seen as a live example of static electricity. The static charge in air typically breaks down to 10,000 volts per centimeter. The discharge creates a heated flash with a creaking sound.

Usage of Static Electricity:

? Pollution control: Static electricity charges dirt particles in the air and helps collect them on the opposite electrical charge. Such devices are often called electrostatic precipitators.

? Xerography: A Xerox machine uses static electricity by electrically charging the ink so that it will stick to the paper in the designated areas.

? Painting cars: The paint is given an electrical charge and sprayed into the booth that carries the car on a moving plate. The charged paint particles are attracted to the car and stick to the body, just like a charged balloon sticks to a wall. The absence of static electricity can cause unevenness on the surface of the paint.

How is static electricity different from current electricity?

Current electricity takes form when electrons start moving in a particular path, or a direction. The most common source of current electricity is batteries. These batteries rely on the chemical reactions within them to produce current electricity. Power plants generate large electricity that can be channeled to power large cities.

A career in Electrical Engineering:

Professionals with an electrical engineering master's degree work with electricity, electrical technology, and systems design. A master's degree in electrical engineering design helps in learning new technologies, work with circuits, motors, renewable energy sources, or communication systems.

Research Institutes in India working on Electrical engineering in the area of ?Static electricity?:

University of Banja Luka

New Possibilities For The Passive Elimination Of Static Electricity

RWTH Aachen University

Biological effects of exposure to static electric fields in humans and vertebrates: a systematic review


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