Clearing out uncharged molecules may prevent charge buildup
A little vitamin E could zap static cling.
The chemical wipes out static electricity by getting rid of molecules that stabilize charge, researchers report in the Sept. 20 Science. By adding vitamin E or similar chemicals to coatings for electronics, manufacturers could fend off the electrostatic shocks that fry computer chips.
Static electricity may be best known for delivering tiny jolts to people shuffling across carpets. But in electronics, “the situation is very serious,” says physical chemist Fernando Galembeck of the University of Campinas in Brazil, who was not involved with the new work. Beyond messing up motherboards, electrostatic shocks can spark fires and explosions that injure people and damage property. “These things happen all the time,” he says.