The Charging Events in Contact-Separation Electrification

Musa U. G., Cezan S. D., Baytekin B., Baytekin H. T.

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.8, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 8
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-018-20413-1
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Contact electrification (CE)-charging of surfaces that are contacted and separated, is a common phenomenon, however it is not completely understood yet. Recent studies using surface imaging techniques and chemical analysis revealed a 'spatial' bipolar distribution of charges at the nano dimension, which made a paradigm shift in the field. However, such analyses can only provide information about the charges that remained on the surface after the separation, providing limited information about the actual course of the CE event. Tapping common polymers and metal surfaces to each other and detecting the electrical potential produced on these surfaces 'in-situ' in individual events of contact and separation, we show that, charges are generated and transferred between the surfaces in both events; the measured potential is bipolar in contact and unipolar in separation. We show, the 'contact-charges' on the surfaces are indeed the net charges that results after the separation process, and a large contribution to tribocharge harvesting comes, in fact, from the electrostatic induction resulting from the generated CE charges. Our results refine the mechanism of CE providing information for rethinking the conventional ranking of materials' charging abilities, charge harvesting, and charge prevention.