We will explore the science behind static electricity through a common real-life activity in this post : ‘Static Electricity Experiment using Comb.’
Before we start, let’s explore what Static Electricity actually is!
What is Static Electricity?
The un-stability between the positive and negative charges of an object causes the sparks when an additional frictional force acting upon it is static electricity.
And these electric charges resulting from static electricity remain to stay on the surface of the object until they discover the way to get free of the object.
Since the electrons remain stable without any movement in one area of the object, the electric current released is named ‘static electricity.
Static Comb Experiment
1) The impact of static electricity on electric charges of two objects rubbed against each other
2) Role of static charges on the electrons transferring from one object to another.
3) Discussing the electric charges that remain stationary on the surface of the object.
1) A Plastic Comb
2) Color Papers (papers with low GSM will work better for this activity)
Take some color papers and cut them into small pieces, as shown in the pictures.
Directions to Perform Static Electricity Experiment with Comb
Step-1: Scatter the small pieces of paper on the work table. And bring the plastic comb over the paper pieces lying on the table. Make sure you bring very close to them but make sure the comb is not touching the paper pieces. Observe what happens!
Step-2: Now, rub the plastic comb against your hair and immediately bring it over the paper pieces. Now again, observe the changes happening during this step.
In the first step, the paper pieces remain intact to the table’s surface and do not move a bit when the comb is close to them.
But in the second step, the comb attracts the paper pieces from the surface towards it, and finally, the paper pieces get attached to the comb.
Science behind Static Comb Experiment
Let’s learn few scientific terms related to static electricity:
Electrons: Electrons are the subatomic particles present in all the atoms of molecules. They are stable and conduct electricity by nature and holds negative charge with symbols e− and β−. Unit electrical charge denotes the electric charge of a single electron of an atom.
Atom: Atom is the smallest particle of a chemical element made of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Electroscope: An electroscope is an instrument that helps in recognizing and calculating the amount of electricity. This instrument is mainly helpful in detecting the ionization reactions happening during the radioactivity reactions.
Proton: Proton is also a stable subatomic particle of atomic nuclei but holds a positive charge. It is identical to the electron in the values of magnitude, but it is 1,836 times more than the mass of the electron in regards to mass.
Induced Charge: The induction of charge into a neutral object when the other charged object brought near to it is induced charge.
Now that we have complete awareness about vocabularies that relate to static electricity. Let us jump into the science in detail.
Every atom in a molecule is made of a certain number of electrons, protons, and neutrons.
Sometimes, we see an equal number of protons and electrons in an atom, but the charges acting upon them are positive and negative.
However, the electrons are more likely to move away from the surface of atoms since they are negative in charge.
In the first step, nothing happens between the plastic comb and the paper pieces because there is no movement of electrons.
In the second step, when you rub the plastic comb against your hair, the freely moving negative charged electrons get transferred onto the plastic comb.
Thus, the neutral object comb becomes charged object by the induction method. That means the charges present on the comb after rubbing against the hair are the induced charges.
In this way, the comb attains a negative charge on its surface during its contact with the hair.
At this stage, bring the comb immediately near the paper pieces. This activity causes the polarisation of atoms of paper molecules by the excess electrons present on the charged comb.
As a result, we observe the movement of electrons from the paper molecules onto the comb, which means the negative charges attract the positive charges.
According to inverse square law, because of the weaker E field around the comb molecules, the attractive force around the nuclei of paper atoms becomes strong than the repulsive force. And hence, the paper molecules tend to get attracted by the comb molecules.
Try Our Static Electricity Experiments at Home:
There is a lot to learn about electricity through the incidents happening in our daily lives. Try to explore more about static electricity by conducting or relating some more common science activities in our daily activities. For example:
1) Try to replace the balloon instead of comb and conduct the activity.
2) Replace the paper pieces with other neutral objects and observe the results
3) Substitute the paper pieces with regular tap water and experiment. Check whether there is any change.
4) Check the static electricity within your body and other materials like rugs, house walls, balloons, etc.
5) Relate your daily activities like walking on the carpet and touching the metal knob. Check the result of sparks due to static electricity.
So, by performing simple experiments and relating to daily activities, we can explore static electricity easily in a fun and educational way.