Static electricity is a relatively straightforward process that occurs when there is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. You have probably experienced it yourself as a mildly painful zap on your fingers.
Using the charge
This zap is due to the fact that the charge remains until it is able to go away through an electric current. But what if we could use that charge instead of deflecting it?
That is exactly what some researchers at the University of Buffalo decided to explore.
“Nearly everyone has zapped their finger on a doorknob or seen child’s hair stick to a balloon. To incorporate this energy into our electronics, we must better understand the driving forces behind it,” said James Chen, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo.
And understand it these researchers did! Their novel study found that the cause of static electricity is tiny structural changes.