demo01 - Physics II - Demonstrations for Class 1:...

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Physics II --- Demonstrations for Class 1: Electrostatics 1) Demonstration of the Van de Graaf generator You have probably seen Van de Graaf generators in high school, where long sparks jump between two globes, one of which is grounded. Such spark jumping is best seen in the dark where you can observe the fascinatingly intricate patterns the electricity makes as it jumps a gap as much as six inches. In spite of voltages as high as 400,000 volts, the current is only about 0.1 microamp (0.0000001 Ampere) , which is not much more than what you receive on doorknobs on winter days. That's why it may hurt a bit if a spark strikes your hand, but you won't die. Contrast that to your car battery which is only 12 volts but capable of delivering a current of well over 500 Amperes. The principle behind most Van de Graaf generators the transfer of charge by rubbing between two dissimilar materials, called triboelectricity. Electrons from one material are transferred by one material coming into contact with the other and then “peeling” away. The process of rubbing just creates more surface area.
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This note was uploaded on 09/17/2008 for the course PHYS 1200 taught by Professor Stoler during the Spring '06 term at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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demo01 - Physics II - Demonstrations for Class 1:...

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