What is Static Electricity?

Static electricity essentially consists of positive and negative charges and the way they interact. When studying static electricity the most important thing to remember is that opposites attract. If we look at charges on an atomic level, we see that nucleons have positive and negative charges. The positively charged nucleons are called protons, and the negatively charged particles are called electrons. When an atom has an equal number of protons and electrons, it has no charge or, it is neutral. When an atom has a greater number of electrons than protons it has a negative charge, and when it has a greater number of protons, it has a positive charge. The reason that atoms with positive and negative charges attract each other is that atoms want to be neutral. They want to have an equal number electrons and protons. Therefore, electrons on a negatively charged object will move to a positively charged object whenever they have the chance. The result is current. Current is simply the movement of electrons across a surface.

Experiments Involving Static Electricity

Discover how to perform your own experiments using static electricity.

salt and pepper experimentrepelling balloons experiment

Try making an electostatic salt and pepper collector or use static electricity to make balloons repel each other.

Using Static Electricity to Help the Enviroment

Electrical Engineers, along with other engineers and scientists, have developed a filter that uses static electricity to keep pollutants out of the air. This filter is called an electrostatic precipitator. Power plants that burn coal use electrostatic precipitators to clean the air before it is released back into the atmosphere.

ASU Department of Electrical Engineering
Last Updated: June 21, 2002
Original Page Development by: Matt Dayley and Keith Holbert
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