Triboelectric effect

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The triboelectric effect (also known as triboelectric charging) is a type of contact electrification on which certain materials become electrically charged after they are separated from a different material with which they were in contact. [1] Rubbing the two materials each with the other increases the contact between their surfaces, and hence the triboelectric effect. Rubbing glass with fur for example, or a plastic comb through the hair, can build up triboelectricity. Most everyday static electricity is triboelectric. The polarity and strength of the charges produced differ according to the materials, surface roughness, temperature, strain, and other properties.

Contact electrification was an erroneous scientific theory from the Enlightenment that attempted to account for all the sources of electric charge known at the time. It has since been superseded by more modern notions. In the late 18th century, scientists developed sensitive instruments for detecting 'electrification', otherwise known as electrostatic charge imbalance. The phenomenon of electrification by contact, or contact tension, was quickly discovered.

Electric charge Physical property that quantifies an objects interaction with electric fields

Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when placed in an electromagnetic field. There are two types of electric charge: positive and negative. Like charges repel and unlike attract. An object with an absence of net charge is referred to as neutral. Early knowledge of how charged substances interact is now called classical electrodynamics, and is still accurate for problems that do not require consideration of quantum effects.

Static electricity imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material

Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy.

Contents

The triboelectric effect is very unpredictable, and only broad generalizations can be made. Amber, for example, can acquire an electric charge by contact and separation (or friction) with a material like wool. This property was first recorded by Thales of Miletus. The word "electricity" is derived from William Gilbert's initial coinage, "electra", which originates in the Greek word for amber, ēlektron. The prefix tribo- (Greek for ‘rub’) refers to ‘friction’, as in tribology. Other examples of materials that can acquire a significant charge when rubbed together include glass rubbed with silk, and hard rubber rubbed with fur.

Amber Fossilized tree resin

Amber is fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into a variety of decorative objects. Amber is used in jewelry. It has also been used as a healing agent in folk medicine.

Friction Force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other

Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:

Wool Textile fibre from the hair of sheep or other mammals

Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, from hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids; additionally, the Highland and the Mangalica breeds of cattle and swine, respectively, possess wooly coats.

A very familiar example could be the rubbing of a plastic pen on a sleeve of almost any typical material like cotton, wool, polyester, or blended fabric used in modern clothing. Such an electrified pen would readily attract and pick up pieces of paper less than a square centimeter when the pen approaches. Also, such a pen will repel a similarly electrified pen. This repulsion is readily detectable in the sensitive setup of hanging both pens on threads and setting them nearby one another. Such experiments readily lead to the theory of two types of quantifiable electric charge, one being effectively the negative of the other, with a simple sum respecting signs giving the total charge. The electrostatic attraction of the charged plastic pen to neutral uncharged pieces of paper (for example) is due to temporary charge separation (electric polarisation or dipole moment) of electric charges within the paper (or perhaps alignments of permanent molecular or atomic electric dipoles). A net force then arises as the slightly nearer charges of the dipole get attracted more strongly in the nonuniform field from the pen which diminishes with distance. In a uniform electric field, for example inside parallel capacitor plates, temporary polarisation would occur in the small pieces of paper but with zero net attraction.

The triboelectric effect is now considered to be related to the phenomenon of adhesion, where two materials composed of different molecules tend to stick together because of attraction between the different molecules.[ citation needed ] While adhesion is not a chemical bond between atoms, there is an exchange of electrons between the different types of molecules, resulting in an electrostatic attraction between the molecules that holds them together. Physical separation of materials that are adhered together results in friction between the materials. Because the electron transfer between molecules in the different materials is not immediately reversible, the excess electrons in one type of molecule remain left behind, while a deficit of electrons occurs in the other. Thus, a material can develop a positive or negative charge (see also static electricity) that dissipates after the materials separate.[ citation needed ]

Adhesion stickiness to a surface

Adhesion is the tendency of dissimilar particles or surfaces to cling to one another. The forces that cause adhesion and cohesion can be divided into several types. The intermolecular forces responsible for the function of various kinds of stickers and sticky tape fall into the categories of chemical adhesion, dispersive adhesion, and diffusive adhesion. In addition to the cumulative magnitudes of these intermolecular forces, there are also certain emergent mechanical effects.

A nanogenerator employing the triboelectric effect to generate electricity Lateral sliding mode of triboelectric nanogenerator.tif
A nanogenerator employing the triboelectric effect to generate electricity

Triboelectric series

Triboelectric series:
Most positively charged
+
Hair, oily skin
Nylon, dry skin
Glass
Acrylic, Lucite
Leather
Rabbit's fur
Quartz
Mica
Lead
Cat's fur
Silk
Aluminium
Paper (Small positive charge)
Cotton
Wool (No charge)
0
Steel (No charge)
Wood (Small negative charge)
Amber
Sealing wax
Polystyrene
Rubber balloon
Resins
Hard rubber
Nickel, Copper
Sulfur
Brass, Silver
Gold, Platinum
Acetate, Rayon
Synthetic rubber
Polyester
Styrene and polystyrene
Orlon
Plastic wrap
Polyurethane
Polyethylene (like Scotch tape)
Polypropylene
Vinyl (PVC)
Silicon
Teflon (PTFE)
Silicone rubber
Ebonite
Most negatively charged

Johan Carl Wilcke published the first triboelectric series in a 1757 paper on static charges. [2] [3] Materials are often listed in order of the polarity of charge separation when they are touched with another object. A material towards the bottom of the series, when touched to a material near the top of the series, will acquire a more negative charge. The farther away two materials are from each other on the series, the greater the charge transferred. Materials near to each other on the series may not exchange any charge, or may even exchange the opposite of what is implied by the list. This can be caused by rubbing, by contaminants or oxides, or other variables. Lists vary somewhat as to the exact order of some materials, since the relative charge varies for nearby materials. From actual tests, there is little or no measurable difference in charge affinity between metals, probably because the rapid motion of conduction electrons cancels such differences. [4]

Oxide chemical compound with at least one oxygen atom

An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom and one other element in its chemical formula. "Oxide" itself is the dianion of oxygen, an O2– atom. Metal oxides thus typically contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2. Most of the Earth's crust consists of solid oxides, the result of elements being oxidized by the oxygen in air or in water. Hydrocarbon combustion affords the two principal carbon oxides: carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Even materials considered pure elements often develop an oxide coating. For example, aluminium foil develops a thin skin of Al2O3 (called a passivation layer) that protects the foil from further corrosion. Individual elements can often form multiple oxides, each containing different amounts of the element and oxygen. In some cases these are distinguished by specifying the number of atoms as in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and in other cases by specifying the element's oxidation number, as in iron(II) oxide and iron(III) oxide. Certain elements can form many different oxides, such as those of nitrogen. other examples are silicon, iron, titanium, and aluminium oxides.

Cause

Although the part 'tribo-' comes from the Greek for "rubbing", τρίβω (τριβή: friction), the two materials only need to come into contact for electrons to be exchanged. After coming into contact, a chemical bond is formed between parts of the two surfaces, called adhesion, and charges move from one material to the other to equalize their electrochemical potential. This is what creates the net charge imbalance between the objects. When separated, some of the bonded atoms have a tendency to keep extra electrons, and some a tendency to give them away, though the imbalance will be partially destroyed by tunneling or electrical breakdown (usually corona discharge). In addition, some materials may exchange ions of differing mobility, or exchange charged fragments of larger molecules.

In electrochemistry, the electrochemical potential, μ, sometimes abbreviated to ECP, is a thermodynamic measure of chemical potential that does not omit the energy contribution of electrostatics. Electrochemical potential is expressed in the unit of J/mol.

Electrical breakdown when current flows through an electrical insulator when the voltage applied across it exceeds the breakdown voltage

Electrical breakdown or dielectric breakdown is when current flows through an electrical insulator when the voltage applied across it exceeds the breakdown voltage. This results in the insulator becoming electrically conductive. Electrical breakdown may be a momentary event, or may lead to a continuous arc if protective devices fail to interrupt the current in a power circuit.

Corona discharge electrical discharge brought on by the ionization of a fluid such as air surrounding a conductor that is electrically charged

A corona discharge is an electrical discharge brought on by the ionization of a fluid such as air surrounding a conductor that is electrically charged. Spontaneous corona discharges occur naturally in high-voltage systems unless care is taken to limit the electric field strength. A corona will occur when the strength of the electric field around a conductor is high enough to form a conductive region, but not high enough to cause electrical breakdown or arcing to nearby objects. It is often seen as a bluish glow in the air adjacent to pointed metal conductors carrying high voltages, and emits light by the same property as a gas discharge lamp.

The triboelectric effect is related to friction only because they both involve adhesion. However, the effect is greatly enhanced by rubbing the materials together, as they touch and separate many times. [5]

For surfaces with differing geometry, rubbing may also lead to heating of protrusions, causing pyroelectric charge separation which may add to the existing contact electrification, or which may oppose the existing polarity. Surface nano-effects are not well understood, and the atomic force microscope has enabled rapid progress in this field of physics.

Sparks

Because the surface of the material is now electrically charged, either negatively or positively, any contact with an uncharged conductive object or with an object having substantially different charge may cause an electrical discharge of the built-up static electricity: a spark. A person simply walking across a carpet, removing a nylon[ citation needed ] shirt or rubbing against a car seat can also create a potential difference of many thousands of volts, which is enough to cause a spark one millimeter long or more.

Electrostatic discharge may not be evident in humid climates because surface condensation normally prevents triboelectric charging, while increased humidity increases the electrical conductivity of the air.

Electrostatic discharges (other than lightning which comes from triboelectric charging of ice and water droplets within clouds) cause minimal harm because the energy (1/2 V 2 C) of the spark is very small, being typically several tens of micro joules in cold dry weather, and much less than that in humid conditions; however, such sparks can ignite flammable vapors (see risks and counter-measures). This is not the case when the capacitance of one of the objects is very large.

In aircraft and spacecraft

Aircraft flying in weather will develop a static charge from air friction on the airframe. The static can be discharged with static dischargers or static wicks.

NASA follows what they call the "Triboelectrification Rule" whereby they will cancel a launch if the launch vehicle is predicted to pass through certain types of clouds. Flying through high-level clouds can generate "P-static" (P for precipitation), which can create static around the launch vehicle that will interfere with radio signals sent by or to the vehicle. This may prevent transmitting of telemetry to the ground or, if the need arises, sending a signal to the vehicle, particularly critical signals for the flight termination system. When a hold is put in place due to the triboelectrification rule, it remains until Space Wing and observer personnel, such as those in reconnaissance aircraft, indicate that the skies are clear. [6]

Risks and counter-measures

Ignition

The effect is of considerable industrial importance in terms of both safety and potential damage to manufactured goods. Static discharge is a particular hazard in grain elevators owing to the danger of a dust explosion. The spark produced is fully able to ignite flammable vapours, for example, petrol, ether fumes as well as methane gas. For bulk fuel deliveries and aircraft fueling a grounding connection is made between the vehicle and the receiving tank prior to opening the tanks. When fueling vehicles at a retail station touching metal on the car before opening the gas tank or touching the nozzle may decrease one's risk of static ignition of fuel vapors.[ citation needed ]

In the workplace

Means have to be provided to discharge static from carts which may carry volatile liquids, flammable gasses, or oxygen in hospitals. Even where only a small charge is produced, it can result in dust particles being attracted to the rubbed surface. In the case of textile manufacture this can lead to a permanent grimy mark where the cloth comes in contact with dust accumulations held by a static charge. Dust attraction may be reduced by treating insulating surfaces with an antistatic cleaning agent.

Damage to electronics

Some electronic devices, most notably CMOS integrated circuits and MOSFET transistors, can be accidentally destroyed by high-voltage static discharge. Such components are usually stored in a conductive foam for protection. Grounding oneself by touching the workbench, or using a special bracelet or anklet is standard practice while handling unconnected integrated circuits. Another way of dissipating charge is by using conducting materials such as carbon black loaded rubber mats in operating theatres, for example.

Devices containing sensitive components must be protected during normal use, installation, and disconnection, accomplished by designed-in protection at external connections where needed. Protection may be through the use of more robust devices or protective countermeasures at the device's external interfaces. These may be opto-isolators, less sensitive types of transistors, and static bypass devices such as metal oxide varistors.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Faraday cage enclosure of conductive mesh used to block electric fields

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Electrostatic discharge materials

Electrostatic discharge materials are plastics that reduce static electricity to protect electrostatic-sensitive devices (ESD) or contain flammable liquids or gases.

References

  1. Ghomian, Taher; Mehraeen, Shahab (July 2019). "Survey of energy scavenging for wearable and implantable devices". Energy. 178: 33–49. doi:10.1016/j.energy.2019.04.088. ISSN   0360-5442.
  2. A Natural History: Devin Corbin | The Owls
  3. Disputatio physica experimentalis, de electricitatibus contrariis... Typis Ioannis Iacobi Adleri, 1757.
  4. The TriboElectric Series
  5. Diaz, A.F.; Felix-Navarro, R.M. (2004). "A semi-quantitative tribo-electric series for polymeric materials: the influence of chemical structure and properties" (PDF). Journal of Electrostatics. 62 (4): 277–290. doi:10.1016/j.elstat.2004.05.005. ISSN   0304-3886 . Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  6. Kanigan, Dan (27 October 2009). "Flight Rules and Triboelectrification (What the Heck is That?) | Ares I-X Test Flight". NASA . Retrieved 31 January 2017.
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