Now a Northwestern University team developed a new model that shows that rubbing two objects together produces static electricity, or triboelectricity, by bending the tiny protrusions on the surface of materials.
This new understanding could have important implications for existing electrostatic applications, such as energy harvesting and printing, as well as for avoiding potential dangers, such as fires started by sparks from static electricity.
Laurence Marks, professor of materials science and engineering in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, led the study.
Marks's team found that these deformations give rise to voltages that ultimately cause static charging.
Using a simple model, the Northwestern team showed that voltages arising from the bending protrusions during rubbing are, indeed, large enough to cause static electricity.
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