The Basics of Static and Current Electricity


There are two forms of electricity: static or current.

Static Electricity

Everything that we see around us is made of atoms and the atoms are made of protons, electrons and the neutrons. The electrons possess a negative charge while the protons have a positive charge. And for any body of an object to be termed as neutral “not charged”, the number of the neutrons have to be equal to the number of protons. When there is an imbalance in the electric charges (the protons and electrons), the body is said to have static electricity. The static electricity can be negative or positive depending on which electric charge is in excess. If the protons are more, the body is said to be positively charged and when the electrons are more, the body is said to be negatively charged.

One of the simplest and main ways by which material s become statically charged is by using contact- induced charge separation. This applies when materials that have a larger atomic radius and thus loosely bound electrons are brought in to contact with material that have a smaller atomic radius and unfilled outermost energy level. When the two get in contact, electrons flow form the material that has a larger atomic radius to the material with the smaller atomic radius. This is results to one material having a positive charge while the other becomes negative. The material that received more electrons becomes negatively charge while the other is left positively charged.

Other methods of charging a body include: Pressure-induced charge separation, Heat-induced charge separation and Charge-induced charge separation, which is what we learnt during our Physics tuition classes as charging by induction.

Current Electricity

Current electricity is the form of electricity which exists when charges are able to constantly flow. Contrary to static electricity, where charges accumulate and remain at rest (static), current electricity is dynamic, meaning that the charges are always on the move.

In order for the current electricity (or simply current) to flow, there have to be a circuit. A circuit can be described as a closed, endless loop of conductive material and it could be as simple as a connecting a conductive wire end-to-end. But in the modern field of electricity, circuits contain a mixture of conductive wires and other electronic components.

For there to be current electricity (current flow), there are electrons involved. The electrons are the charge carriers when it comes to electric flow. The electrons are the ones that cause flow of electricity since they easily moved from one atom to the other.