Contact Electrification and Adhesion Between Dissimilar Materials

Science  17 Apr 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5055, pp. 362-364
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5055.362


Simultaneous measurements of surface force and surface charge demonstrate strong attraction due to the spontaneous transfer of electrical charge from one smooth insulator (mica) to another (silica) as a result of simple, nonsliding contact in dry nitrogen. The measured surface charge densities are 5 to 20 millicoulombs per square meter after contact. The work required to separate the charged surfaces is typically 6 to 9 joules per square meter, comparable to the fracture energies of ionic-covalent materials. Observation of partial gas discharges when the surfaces are approximately 1 micrometer apart gives valuable insight into the charge separation processes underlying static electrical phenomena in general.