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Title: Measuring gas discharge in contact electrification

Contact electrification in a gas medium is usually followed by partial surface charge dissipation caused by dielectric breakdown of the gas triggered during separation of the surfaces. It is widely assumed that such discharge obeys the classical Paschen’s law, which describes the general dependence of the breakdown voltage on the product of gas pressure and gap distance. However, quantification of this relationship in contact electrification involving insulators is impeded by challenges in nondestructive in situ measurement of the gap voltage. The present work implements an electrode-free strategy for capturing discrete discharge events by monitoring the gap voltage via Coulomb force, providing experimental evidence of Paschen curves governing nitrogen breakdown in silicone-acrylic and copper-nylon contact electrification. It offers an alternative approach for characterizing either the ionization energies of gases or the secondary-electron-emission properties of surfaces without the requirement of a power supply, which can potentially benefit applications ranging from the design of insulative materials to the development of triboelectric sensors and generators.

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Award ID(s):
1662925 2145803
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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