Static electricity

Thread Starter


Joined Aug 19, 2011
" The result of an imbalance of this "fluid" (electrons) between objects is called static electricity. It is called "static" because the displaced electrons tend to remain stationary after being moved from one insulating material to another."

These are the lines taken from Static Electricity vol I DC topic found in our site. According to theory, electrons tend to revolve around the nucleus, they dont remain stationary. But how displaced electrons tend to remain stationary?


Joined Oct 2, 2009
Electrons are in constant motion and are never stationary. What we observe as electricity or static electric charge is the macro or bulk effect of all the electrons in the body. When there is net shift that causes an imbalance (like passengers on a ship moving from one side to the other in order to watch the whales) you can create a "static" charge or "static electricity".


Joined Mar 24, 2008
Goes to the difference between quantum physics (the world of the very small) and the world we live in. We live in a world where everything is averaged. The average charge on a surface from static electricity doesn't change quickly, while when you look at individual particles nothing sits still. In solid matter the atoms vibrate even though they don't move freely, this is what we call heat, and the speed of vibration is temperature.


Joined Mar 24, 2008
Quantum electronics follows different rules, it is very non intuitive, but it is the basis of many our natural laws. To understand many of the idiosyncrasies of electronics you have to start with quantum effects.

On the macro scale (our scale) charge can be thought of as a fluid, but of course it isn't. It is made from electrons, which are particles and follow quantum rules instead.

One of the things that distinguishes metals from insulators it the outermost layer (valance) of these elements atoms electrons is are very loosely coupled to the atoms. The electrons tend to float within the metallic mass. It is why the metal is conductive, and why it can not hold a static charge very well, as the charge is dispersed through the metallic mass. An insulator however, binds the electrons tightly to each atom. This means the electrons can not disperse, and basically stay where they are put. There are other mechanisms to disperse electrons however. This is actually basic chemistry.

Static electricity around electronics can be a bad thing. This is why ESD (electrostatic discharge) protocols exist. This is an article I wrote for the AAC text book (whose links are on top of this page) on the subject.

ElectroStatic Discharge

Electronics is just one aspect of the physics of the real world. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, but exist as a much larger picture.


Joined Nov 30, 2010
The only sentence I see with a question mark in the original post was, " displaced electrons tend to stay stationary?"

First, there are billions of stray (spare, extra) electrons laying around without an atom to provide a matching proton. The way I say it is, "This whole planet is fairly slopping over with spare electrons". When a temporary force moves some unattached electrons to the surface of an insulator they tend to stay there because they are laying on an insulator.

That's about as simple as I know how to say it.