Demostrating static electricity using a comb. Image credit

Demostrating static electricity using a comb. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes:  Electrostatics/Static Electricity 

  • Electrostatics is the study of static electricity
  • Static electricity is a stationary electric charge usually generated by friction
  • It causes sparks or attraction between the charged particles
  • For example if a comb or plastic ruler is rubbed on a sleeve or on dry air
  • It becomes charged and can pick up tiny scraps of paper or cause hair to stand on its end
  • Nylon and other synthetic clothes crackle and sparkle when they are removed
  • The sparks are better observed in a dark room
  • Lightning is an example of static electrical discharge
  • Electrical charge is because of:
  • Either the presence of extra electrons resulting in a negative charge
  • Or the absence of electrons resulting in a positive charge
  • If electrons are removed from atoms a certain material e.g. glass then the material gains a positive charge
  • Glass/Perspex gains a positive charge if it is rubbed using a silk cloth
  • Electrons are removed from the atoms of glass and transferred to silk
  • When polythene (polythene) is rubbed with a woolen cloth
  • electrons are transferred to the polythene and it thus gains a negative charge
  • Unlike charges attract i.e. they are drawn to each other
  • This is similar to magnetic forces where opposite poles attract
  • Like charges repel each other
  • i.e two negatively charged items or positively charged items repel each other

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.

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