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Electrostatic Charge

How can an Insulator get an Electrostatic Charge?

Insulators can transfer charge by friction.
When the surface of one insulator rubs against another,
electrons can be transferred.

The insulator that gains electrons will get a negative charge,
the insulator that loses electrons will get a positive charge.

It is most important to know that it is only the negative electrons
which can move. Positive charges (protons) cannot move
because they are stuck inside the nuclei of the atoms of the material.

For example, if polythene (a type of plastic) is rubbed with a dry cloth,
electrons are transferred from the cloth to the polythene.
The polythene gains electrons and becomes negatively charged,
the cloth loses electrons and becomes positively charged.

It is not possible to predict in advance which way the
electrons will be transferred for a certain material.
The same cloth, when rubbed against a different type of
plastic called acetate, will gain electrons and become
negatively charged, leaving the acetate with a positive charge.

See the GCSE Chemistry site
if you want to know more about electrons and protons.

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