Static Electricity And Friction: 7 Facts You Should Know

Static electricity refers to the stationary charged particles that produce the electric flow due to friction.

The static charge is produced by the transmission of energy by some effect that is inevitable for the imbalance in the charge due to migration and exerts the attractive and repulsive force. Static electricity and friction are much correlated as friction causes static current.

What force causes static electricity?

The static electricity is mostly come across on the thin body and on the surface of the object.

The static electricity is generated on rubbing, and drubbing, which is mainly due to the frictional force created and also by the electromagnetic force.

Upon rubbing two surfaces across each other, the particles present on the surface get charged and shows the attraction towards the oppositely charges and migrate from one surface to another depending upon the energy received by the particle for its drift.

Also, the light carries energized photons that upon incident on the surface of the object, give away the energy to the free electron, henceforth dislocating and ejecting electrons from the object. Thus making the object positively charged and attracting tiny negative charge carriers from the surrounding.

Relationship between Static Electricity and Friction

The friction is produced when the two surfaces rub across each other. The energy produced by the frictional force is grasped by the particles present on the surface of the object and gets charged. This is kept on adding up until the power build up is sufficient to discharge the charge.

This sudden discharge of the charged particles produces a static current. This static current does not last for long and is only for a few microseconds.

Is static electricity caused by friction?

It is obvious to believe that static electricity is caused by friction and it is a most fundamental reason.

The frictional force is responsible for the transfer of charges and even for the drift of the charges, as the two surfaces are in close contact with each other.

The friction force is a contact force and is produced only when the two surfaces rub across each other. The friction produces the heat energy due to rubbing and this energy is acquired by the particles and gets charged. Upon getting charged, they show the forces of attraction and repulsion.

How does friction create static electricity?

The friction actually produces the heat energy that is acquired by the molecules of the object present on the surface.

This heat energy is responsible for the excitation of electrons and hence sometimes gives away in the form of a spark as the electrons get discharged creating the static electricity.

You must have observed the static electricity while hammering the nail. Upon hitting continuously, the frictional force developed between the surface of the nail and hammer produces the glow of charges that get discharged by giving a spark.

Why does friction cause static electricity?

The friction force converts the kinetic energy into various forms of energy and a part of the energy is lost in the form of heat.

The friction causes static electricity when the particles present on the surface of the object undergoing friction get charged and acquired enough energy to disperse.

static electricity and friction
Discharge of electrons from the cloud; Image Credit: Pixabay

 The light in a thunderstorm is due to the sudden discharge of the charged electron accumulated at the surface of the cloud that is veritably generated by the friction of the cloud with the air molecules.

Static Electricity Without Friction

The static electricity can also be generated by keeping the two oppositely charged objects lying in close vicinity to each other. The highly dense charges from both the objects show the force of attraction towards each other.

It is also since in the case of the magnetizing material placed in contact with the magnet. The dipoles in the material get aligned in the direction of the magnetic field produced by the magnet that generates the static electricity due to the motion of the dipoles.

Moreover, the surface of the object also gets charged due to the continuous bombarding photon. The energy of the photon gets incident on the surface that is grasped by the free electrons, dislocating them from their places.

Can static electricity be created without friction?

The static electricity can also be produced with an application of frictional force.

This is achieved by the advantage of the magnetic field, a weak electric field generated by keeping the two or more charged surfaces in close contact, or by electromagnetism.

You must have got that sudden and a small electric current while opening the door by holding the latch. This is because the charged particles are present on the surface of the latch, and are quickly absorbed by your hand surface once you touch the latch of the door.

Can static electricity be created without electricity?

Static electricity is produced in many ways without electricity.

It is produced by the mean of friction, exposure to light which is an electromagnetic wave carrying the quantum of energy, upon hitting continuously, and when the surfaces of the object lie close to each other.

Every object is composed of both positive and negative charges. Hence, as the object comes in contact with the object having the majority of the protons, then the electrons from the object will show the forces of attraction towards this object and both will remain in accord together, which when separated gives out a static current.

Why does our oily hair stand in hot Sun?

During the hot Sun, the intensity of the incident photons along with the sunrays is very high.

These photons charge the hair as every incident photon emits its energy on hitting the hair. Upon getting charged, the hair shows the attraction toward the electromagnetic wave and the aerosol particles in the air.

Hence, you must have seen that your hair collects more dust particles from the air when they are oily.

Does the static electricity is built up in the body?

The static electricity can be generated in our body as well.

The formation of static electricity is due to the neuron activity that carries the electrical signals to the brain. Hence, sometimes we feel the flow of electric current when we hit on the base of the joint.

How object gets charged on rubbing across each other?

On rubbing, the charges present on the surface of the object get charged due to the frictional energy produced.

There are charged particles residing on the surface of the object that migrates to another object that is in close contact thus turning the neutrally charged objects into either positive or negatively charged.

What is the main reason for the formation of static electricity?

It is mainly due to the sudden discharging of the charges.

This occurs only if there is an imbalance of charges, the attraction among the oppositely charges that pull each other, and the energy received for excitation of charges.


Static electricity is a sudden discharge of the charges that are initially stationary in position. The static electricity is produced due to friction, exposure to electromagnetic radiations, contact charges, and magnetic and electric fields.

Also Read:

Leave a Comment