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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe some of the many practical applications of electrostatics, including several printing technologies
  • Relate these applications to Newton’s second law and the electric force

The study of electrostatics has proven useful in many areas. This module covers just a few of the many applications of electrostatics.

The van de graaff generator

Van de Graaff generator     s (or Van de Graaffs) are not only spectacular devices used to demonstrate high voltage due to static electricity—they are also used for serious research. The first was built by Robert Van de Graaff in 1931 (based on original suggestions by Lord Kelvin) for use in nuclear physics research. [link] shows a schematic of a large research version. Van de Graaffs use both smooth and pointed surfaces, and conductors and insulators to generate large static charges and, hence, large voltages.

A very large excess charge can be deposited on the sphere because it moves quickly to the outer surface. Practical limits arise because the large electric fields polarize and eventually ionize surrounding materials, creating free charges that neutralize excess charge or allow it to escape. Nevertheless, voltages of 15 million volts are well within practical limits.

The figure shows the schematic of Van de Graaff generator.
Schematic of Van de Graaff generator. A battery ( A ) supplies excess positive charge to a pointed conductor, the points of which spray the charge onto a moving insulating belt near the bottom. The pointed conductor ( B ) on top in the large sphere picks up the charge. (The induced electric field at the points is so large that it removes the charge from the belt.) This can be done because the charge does not remain inside the conducting sphere but moves to its outside surface. An ion source inside the sphere produces positive ions, which are accelerated away from the positive sphere to high velocities.


Most copy machines use an electrostatic process called xerography    —a word coined from the Greek words xeros for dry and graphos for writing. The heart of the process is shown in simplified form in [link] .

The figure illustrates the four stages of Xerography – charging the drum, positive image made on drum, toner attached to image and toner pulled from drum by highly charged paper.
Xerography is a dry copying process based on electrostatics. The major steps in the process are the charging of the photoconducting drum, transfer of an image, creating a positive charge duplicate, attraction of toner to the charged parts of the drum, and transfer of toner to the paper. Not shown are heat treatment of the paper and cleansing of the drum for the next copy.

A selenium-coated aluminum drum is sprayed with positive charge from points on a device called a corotron. Selenium is a substance with an interesting property—it is a photoconductor    . That is, selenium is an insulator when in the dark and a conductor when exposed to light.

In the first stage of the xerography process, the conducting aluminum drum is grounded so that a negative charge is induced under the thin layer of uniformly positively charged selenium. In the second stage, the surface of the drum is exposed to the image of whatever is to be copied. In locations where the image is light, the selenium becomes conducting, and the positive charge is neutralized. In dark areas, the positive charge remains, so the image has been transferred to the drum.

Questions & Answers

Newton's second laws is call with
Dyutee Reply
what is mean by thermodynamics
Prasad Reply
it is study about temperature and it's equilibrium
Its the study of heat and its relation with others kind of energy
state caulombs law clearly
constand Reply
show mathematically that an electron has the greater speed than the proton when they attract each other
ezra Reply
show mathematically that an electron has the greater speed than the proton when they attract each other
@ezra & srikanta; for electrons: a=ke^2/(mr^2) and for protons: a=kp^2/(mr^2)
what is electrostatics
Hero Reply
the study of charge at rest
@Hero; the study of charges at rest is the electrostatics
okay what is electrostatic?
charge at rest
set of character...
Gauss law, electric fields, dipoles,...
A proton initially at rest falls through a p.d of 25000V. what speed does it gain?
Minister Reply
@Minister; use equation v= sq root(2×eV/m)
what is the reaction of heat on magnet
Magnetization decreases with increase in temperature. But in case of diamagnetic substance heat has no role on magnetization.
what is a physical significant of electric dipole moment .
A dipole moment it's a mechanical electrical effect used in nature
what is the uses of carbon brushes in generator
Malik Reply
to minimize heat
at what temperature is the degree Fahrenheit equal to degree Celsius
Grace Reply
Celsius and Faharaneith are different, never equal
find their liners express of n=a+b/T² ( plot graph n against T)
Donsmart Reply
Radio Stations often advertis "instant news,,if that meens you can hear the news the instant the radio announcer speaks it is the claim true? what approximate time interval is required for a message to travel from Cairo to Aswan by radio waves (500km) (Assume the waves Casbe detected at this range )
mahmod Reply
what is growth and decay
Pawan Reply
Can someone please predict the trajectory of a point charge in a uniform electric field????
erlinda Reply
what is deference between strong force and coulomb force
zahid Reply
how do you convert temperature in degree Celsius to Fahrenheit
Celsius x 9/5 +32
Practice Key Terms 5

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Oct 06, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12074/1.3
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