Have you ever tried taking your hat off and noticed some of your hairs were standing? Or perhaps you rubbed a balloon against your hair, and your hairs stood up? Well, those are due to an electric phenomenon called static electricity. We may not know it, but it is everywhere around us. To understand it better, let us get to know the fundamentals first.

Atoms are the building blocks of all physical objects — protons, electrons, and neutrons make up an atom. Protons have a positive charge, electrons have a negative charge, and neutrons are neutral. As a result, everything is made up of charges, and those opposed are attracted to one another, such as negative to positive. Similar charges repel each other like positive to positive or negative to negative. Most of the time, positive and negative charges in an object are balanced, rendering it neutral.

An imbalance of negative and positive charges in a given object causes static electricity. These charges can collect on an item’s surface until they are released or discharged. Some materials can transmit negative ions or electrons when they brush against one another. Now that you understand how it works, let us present four examples of static electricity that you might encounter regularly.

1. Clothing

When clothing is rubbed against another fabric or the wearer’s skin, static electricity is generated. When such garments are removed, the electrostatic force between the skin and the clothing particles is responsible for the chattering sound. To prevent static electricity from developing on your clothes, you must apply a fabric softener during the wash cycle.

2. Comb

When you comb your hair, charges flow between your hair and the comb, causing the comb to get charged either positively or negatively and the hair to become oppositely charged. As a result, we accidentally put a substantial charge on the comb’s teeth when we finish combing our hair.

3. Television screen

The television screen polarises the dust particles freely floating in the air. As a result, the charged dust particles adhere to the television screen; this is why, minutes after clearing the previous layer, a layer of dust is accumulated again. The electrostatic interaction occurs when dust particles interact with the screen. The electrostatic force is immediately felt if someone moves their hand merely a few millimetres above the screen.

4. Doorknob

When a person unintentionally touches a metallic doorknob, they are susceptible to receiving a brief electric shock. Why is this so? The answer is, an electrostatic force exists between the doorknob and the person’s hand. As the doorknob is constructed by metal, it may transfer electrons to anything that comes into contact with it. This electron transfer charges the other body, resulting in electrostatic contact between the doorknob and the skin. It is possible to avoid it by touching a hardwood surface first before touching the metallic doorknob or handle.

Conclusion

Static electricity is found around us in even the simplest things, and you need just a little knowledge on how it works to discover which items can acquire electrostatic force.

However, if you want to expand your learnings more, consider enrolling in our JC physics or H2 physics tuition. At Best Physics TuitionTM Centre, the physics tutor provides comprehensive tuition classes to help you understand physics better.