Colliding dust grains charge each other up | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Help us keep you informed.

Real Science. Real News.


News

Colliding dust grains charge each other up

Particles in a cloud can electrify themselves

By
1:13pm, April 11, 2010

It’s the ultimate love-at-first-sight story: In the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles from anything else, lonely sand grains meet up in a crowd and decide to electrify each other. Sparks fly. 
 
Physicists have long puzzled over why sand grains and other small particles can build up electrical charges as they collide with one another, sometimes to the point of discharging lightning in dust storms or plumes of volcanic ash. Now, a paper appearing online April 11 in Nature Physics suggests that particles transfer electrical charge vertically during a smashup, such that positive charges move downward and negative charges move up in the cloud.
 
The findings
This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

[title_1]
From the Nature Index Paid Content