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Electrostatic: Electron Transfer & Conductivity

  1. Jul 2, 2015 #1
    If you rub two electrically neutral pieces of insulation together, one piece becomes charged and the other piece becomes oppositely charged.

    Does this transfer of electron depend merely on the electron affinities of the two pieces, or does the conductivity of the two insulations play a part?

    I imagine a poor insulator (high conductivity) to have a lower electron affinity; it wants to move/get rid of its electrons. Likewise, I imagine a good insulator (low conductivity) to have a higher electron affinity; it wants to hold onto its electrons.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2015 #2


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  4. Jul 4, 2015 #3
    Thank you for replying meBigGuy.

    After reading your link and others, I think I cleared the confusion: I thought that since conductors are good at moving charges throughout them, they must also be good at transferring their charges. Hence, I thought that if I rubbed two different, electrically neutral, nonpolarized materials together, the better conducting material would conduct its electrons to the poorer conducting material, thus eliminating the electron affinity explanation. However, I completely forgot to factor in that nonpolarized and electrically neutral part, which would interfere with charge transfer. I basically attempted to explain charging by friction with charging by induction and conduction.

    I also thought that electron affinity was somehow inversely proportional to conductivity. But, after not much research, I found that was not the case: Au and Ag, for example, have both high electron affinity and high conductivity.

    To conclude, I should have done more research before posting this question; I admit my ignorance :sorry:.
  5. Jul 4, 2015 #4


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    But, feel free to ask about anything in your research that you have a problem understanding. We love getting questions. Demonstrate a little effort and you will get responses from people who like to help. It just that it is very difficult to explain things from the very very beginning.
  6. Jul 4, 2015 #5

    jim hardy

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    We're all ignorant, but on different subjects.
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