Electrostatic Induction and Electron Bonding
In electrostatic induction, how does it work that the
electrons move towards the charged object\are repelled by it- are
not the electrons supposed to be orbiting the nucleus? How can they
move away from their orbit? Does the whole orbital move, or just a
Electrons orbiting the nucleus is a simplified model of an individual
atom, an atom separate from all else. When within a material,
different kinds of atoms do different things. This is why the periodic
table works out to be organized into different sections. Many of the
elements are metals. The metals require very little energy to pull an
outer electron from the atom. The presence of another electron is often
enough. When many such atoms are joined together in a piece of metal,
just the energy from the surrounding environment sets many of these
electrons free to float around between the atoms.
In electrostatic induction, a nearby electric charge causes some of
these electrons to move toward one side of the metal material, leaving
the other side with too few electrons. When this metal is separated
into two pieces, the extra electrons in one object can no longer get
back to the other. One object now has too many free-floating electrons
(i.e. negatively charged) and the other object has too few (i.e.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
You can have a population of free electrons accumulate on a substance.
The atoms that the electrons came from just end up with an overall positive
Here is a more vigorous explanation:
When electrical charges build up to a high enough level, an electrostatic
discharge occurs in a flash
Between your finger and a door knob on a cold dry day or between clouds and
the surface of the earth.
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012