The origin of static electricity deciphered

Everyone has experienced this when taking off a sweater or walking on a carpet in plastic shoes. Friction generates static electricity, especially in dry winter weather, usually accompanied by sparks and small bumps. Already 2,600 years ago the Greek scientist Thales of Miletos had found that rubbing amber on stoles produced such effects – hence the term Triboelectricity” from the Greek tryin what does “rub” mean and êelectron which means “amber”. “It is the oldest observed manifestation of electricityrecalls Philippe Molinié from the Laboratory of Electrical Engineering and Electronics in Paris. Although the phenomenon of triboelectricity is known and used today in various technologies such as photocopiers or laser printers, it is still poorly understood on a microscopic scale. However, researchers at Northwestern University near Chicago (USA) have just shed new light on its origin. In their opinion, imperceptible deformations would play an important role, which until then would be ignored.

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