Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Electrostatic generator

  1. Jun 21, 2014 #1
    I'd like to create a high-voltage, low current source having multiple output wires each capable of attracting tiny pieces of paper. What kind of solutions should I look into?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 21, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Welcome to PF;
    Look up "van der graaf generator".
  4. Jun 21, 2014 #3
    Seems the old-school way is the best, right.
    BTW do you think it's worth bothering finding a capacitor capable of storing the charge generated by v. d. Graaf generator or it's a hopeless task?
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  5. Jun 21, 2014 #4
    Why do you need multiple output wires?
    Anyway, you could also try some kind of friction machine or - if you want an electronic device - an air ionizer.
  6. Jun 21, 2014 #5
    Van De Graaff generators are easy ways to generate high voltages with practically no current. If you have the financial means you can easily generate one million or more volts with a VDG generator. It's basically static electricity generated from friction that is transported to a large metal sphere where it is stored.
  7. Jun 23, 2014 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Look up Kelvin water dropper. Have fun!
  8. Jun 24, 2014 #7
    Be aware that electrostatic generators, like Van De Graaff, are able to hold very high voltage without breakdown thanks to their shape: smooth and round. Breakdown is inversely proportional to the local radius of curvature of the conductor (assuming we are dealing with bare conductor in air).

    If you attach a wire your Van De Graaff sphere, you will drain off most of the charge.
    If you turn off the lights, you will be able to observe the corona discharge occurring at the tip of the wire.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook