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Electrophorus

Electrophorus:

When Styrofoam is rubbed with wool it acquires a negative charge. The Styrofoam is an insulator which holds this charge. The electric forces produced by the charged plate can be felt and used to move large objects. The charged Styrofoam plate can be used to charge a metal plate. The conducting metal plate can then create sparks, and make neon and fluorescent lamps glow.

An electrophorus is a capacitive generator used to produce electrostatic charge via the process of electrostatic induction.

The electrophorus consists of a dielectric plate and a metal plate with an insulating handle. First, the dielectric plate is charged through the triboelectric effect by rubbing it with fur or cloth. For this discussion, imagine the dielectric gains negative charge by rubbing, as in the illustration below. Then, the metal plate is placed onto the dielectric plate. The dielectric does not transfer a significant fraction of its surface charge to the metal because the microscopic contact is poor. Instead the electrostatic field of the charged dielectric causes the charges in the metal plate to separate. It develops two regions of charge — the positive charges in the plate are attracted to the side facing down toward the dielectric, charging it positively, while the negative charges are repelled to the side facing up, charging it negatively, with the plate remaining electrically neutral as a whole. Then, the side facing up is momentarily grounded (which can be done by touching it with a finger), draining off the negative charge. Finally, the metal plate, now ca

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