Controlling the Kinetics of 'Contact Electrification' with Patterned Surfaces
Original entry by Andrew Capulli, AP225 Fall 2011
"Controlling the Kinetics of Contact Electrification with Patterned Surfaces", Thomas, S.W., Vella, S.J., Dickey, M.D., Kaufman, G.K., and Whitesides, G.M., Journal of American Chemical Society, 2009, 131, 8746-8747
All it takes is a single spark... There are numerous examples of tragedy from the discharge of contact charged (tribocharged) surfaces. Be it the explosion of fuel transfer systems or helicopters landing, these sometimes 'playful' static charges we're all familiar with by rubbing our feet on carpet and shocking each other, can turn into costly and very deadly 'shock' discharges. NASA follows a strict "triboelectrification rule" which grounds any mission if the clouds a shuttle is predicted to fly through may result in a potentially unsafe surface charge on the vehicle (see triboelectric effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboelectric_effect).