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Properties of static charge

  1. Jun 11, 2009 #1
    Hi, I am interested in learning more about static charges. I've googled around and read a number of very informative sites; however, I am left with a few questions. (the best site btw is http://www.ce-mag.com/mrstatic.html)

    After reading (http://www.ce-mag.com/archive/02/01/MrStatic.html) which has an article covering electric breakdown, I am left with a few questions:

    1. If charge is placed on an object which is surrounded by materials with a much lower breakdown, then does the charge remain there forever?

    2. Does the interaction of charge with other charge affect the breakdown voltage?

    3. What materials have the highest potential difference? (I figure this is insulators, but the fact that charge is actually stored in the insulating material of a capacitor confused me).

    Thanks in advance,
    - wiredguy
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2009 #2
    1. Hypothetically, yes. The charge will sit there forever without "leaking" to the outside material. However, a perfect insulator is the same mythological beast as the frictionless plane and the massless spring. In reality, the charge will slowly leak out and the total charge will decrease.

    For your second question, I'd rather admit that I cannot correctly answer it than give you some inaccurate answer. From what I have been taught, the point of breakdown in an insulator is just a critical point in which the electric field within the insulator is large enough to allow electrons to move freely throughout the insulator. Multiple charges may create a larger electric field than would a single charge, thus an insulator at points around the electrical charges may be higher than that of one charge. This high electric field will make the insulator "more inclined" to breakdown, but would not affect the value at which it does actually breakdown. Again though, I am not saying my answer is by any means correct, since some materials have extraordinarily interesting electrical properties. If someone with more experience can answer this then I suggest listening to them.

    3. What do you mean by potential differences? A potential difference V is the difference in potential between two points in space for any charge configuration. The same potential difference can be obtained by many different configurations, only the geometry and charges of the situation will be changed. Are you asking what materials have the highest dielectric breakdown?
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