Dependence of contact electrification on the magnitude of strain in polymeric materials

Mamadou Sow, Daniel J. Lacks, R. Mohan Sankaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a new experimental approach to systematically study the effect of material strain on contact electrification. Thin sheets of latex rubber are variably strained by stretching over a hollow cylinder, analogous to a drum. The strained sheets are repeatedly contacted with another surface by a computer-controlled apparatus. The surface potential on the latex rubber is measured in real time by a non-contact electrostatic voltmeter. For unstrained latex rubber, we find that contact with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) leads to a negative surface potential that progressively increases in magnitude to more negative values with increasing number of contacts. When the latex rubber is strained, contact with PTFE causes the surface potential of the latex rubber to shift to less negative values. At strains of more than ∼50, the polarity of the surface potential is reversed, such that contact with PTFE causes the latex rubber to charge positively. These results indicate that contact electrification intimately depends on the degree of material strain, and may explain how spatial inhomogeneities of charge exist on contacted surfaces and why there is a lack of reproducibility in contact charging experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084909
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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