# Experiment 2: Faraday Ice Pail

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1 MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Department of Physics 8.02 Spring 2009 OBJECTIVES Experiment 2: Faraday Ice Pail 1. To explore the charging of objects by friction and by contact. 2. To explore the charging of objects by electrostatic induction. 3. To explore the concept of electrostatic shielding. INTRODUCTION PRE-LAB READING When a charged object is placed near a conductor, electric fields exert forces on the free charge carriers in the conductor which cause them to move. This process occurs rapidly, and ends when there is no longer an electric field inside the conductor (E inside conductor =0). The surface of the conductor ends up with regions where there is an excess of one type of charge over the other. For example, if a positive charge is placed near a metal, electrons will move to the surface nearest the charge, leaving a net positive charge on the opposite surface 1. This charge distribution is called an induced charge distribution. The process of separating positive from negative charges on a conductor by the presence of a charged object is called electrostatic induction. Michael Faraday used a metal ice pail as a conducting object to study how charges distributed themselves when a charged object was brought inside the pail. Suppose we lower a positively charged metal ball into the pail without touching it to the pail. When we do this, positive charges move as far away from the ball as possible to the outer surface of the pail leaving a net negative charge on the inner surface. If at this point we provide some way for the positive charges to flow away from the pail, for example by touching our hand to it, they will run off through our hand. If we then remove our hand from the pail and then remove the positively charged metal ball from inside the pail, the pail will be left with a net negative charge. This is called charging by induction. In contrast, if we touch the positively charged ball to the uncharged pail, electrons flow from the pail into the ball, trying to neutralize the positive charge on it. This leaves the pail with a net positive charge. This is called charging by contact. Finally, when a positively charged ball approaches the ice pail from outside of the pail, charges will redistribute themselves on the outside surface of the pail and will exactly cancel the electric field inside the pail. This is called electrostatic shielding. 1 We will typically say that positive charge flows outward even though in metals it s really electrons moving inward. This is a completely equivalent way of thinking about it for our purposes. E02-1

2 You will investigate all three of these phenomena charging by induction, charging by contact, and electrostatic shielding in this experiment. The Details: Gauss s Law In the above situations, the excess charge on the conductor resides entirely on the surface, a fact that may be explained by Gauss s Law. Gauss s Law 2 states that the electric flux through any closed surface is proportional to the charge enclosed inside that surface, q enc E d A =. (2.1) ε closed 0 surface Consider a mathematical, closed Gaussian surface that is inside the ice pail: Figure 1 Top View of Gaussian surface for the Faraday Ice Pail (a thick walled cylinder) Once static equilibrium has been reached, the electric field inside the conducting metal walls of the ice pail is zero. Since the Gaussian surface is in a conducting region where there is zero electric field, the electric flux through the Gaussian surface is zero. Therefore, by Gauss s Law, the net charge inside the Gaussian surface must be zero. For the Faraday ice pail, the positively charged ball is inside the Gaussian surface. Therefore, there must be an additional induced negative charge on the inner surface of the ice pail that exactly cancels the positive charge on the ball. It must reside on the surface because we could make the same argument with any Gaussian surface, including one which is just barely outside the inner surface. Since the pail is uncharged, by charge conservation there must be a positive induced charge on the pail which has the same magnitude as the negative induced charge. This positive charge must reside outside the Gaussian surface, hence on the outer surface of the ice pail. Note that the electric field in the hollow region inside the ice pail is not zero due to the presence of the charged ball, and that the electric field outside the pail is also not zero, due to the positive charge on its outer surface. 2 For more details on Gauss s Law, see Chapter 4 of the Course Notes, Section 4.3 for info on conductors. E02-2

3 Now suppose the ice pail is connected to a large conducting object ( ground ): Figure 2 Grounding the ice pail (left) and after removing the ground & ball (right) Now the positive charges that had moved to the surface of the ice pail can get even further away from the positively charged metal ball by flowing into the ground. Now that there are no charges on the outer surface of the pail, the electric field outside the pail is zero and the pail is at the same zero potential as the ground (and infinity). If the wire to ground is then disconnected, the pail will be left with an overall negative charge. Once the positively charged ball is removed, this negative charge will redistribute itself over the outer surface of the pail. Finally, when a charged ball approaches the ice pail from outside of the pail, charges will redistribute themselves on the outside surface of the pail while the electric field inside the pail will remain zero, cut-off from any knowledge of what is going on outside by the enforced zero electric field inside the conductor. This effect is called shielding or screening and explains popular science demonstrations in which a person sits safely inside a cage while an enormous voltage is applied to the cage. This same effect explains why metal boxes are used to screen out undesirable electric fields from sensitive equipment. APPARATUS 1. Ice Pail Our primary apparatus consists of two concentric wire-mesh cylinders. The inner cylinder (the pail ) is electrically isolated by three insulating rods. The outer cylinder (the shield ) will be attached to ground charge can flow to or from it as necessary. This cylinder will act both as a screen to eliminate the effect of any external charges and other external fields and as a zero potential point, relative to which you will measure the potential of the pail. Figure 3 The Ice Pail E02-3

5 4. Science Workshop 750 Interface In this lab we will once again use the Science Workshop 750 interface (Fig. 6). This allows signal measurements (in this lab, from the charge sensor) to be sent to the computer where they can be recorded and plotted. Channel A Figure 6 The Science Workshop 750 Interface. GENERALIZED PROCEDURE This lab consists of four main parts. In each you will measure the voltage between the inner and outer cylinder to determine what is happening on the inner cylinder. Part 1: Determine Polarity of (Sign of Charge on) Charge Producers Here you will lower the charge producers into the center of the pail (the inner cylinder) and determine which producer is positively charged and which is negatively charged Part 2: Charging by Contact You will now rub the charge producer against the inner surface of the pail and see if the charge is transferred to it. Part 3: Charging by Induction In this part you will not let the charge producer touch the pail, but will instead briefly ground the pail by connecting it to the shield (the outer cylinder) while the charge producer is inside. Then you will remove the charge producer and observe the induced charge on the pail. Part 4: Electrostatic Shielding In this part you will measure the effects of placing a charge producer outside of the grounded shield. END OF PRE-LAB READING E02-5

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7 IN-LAB ACTIVITIES EXPERIMENTAL SETUP 1. Download the LabView file from the web and save the file to your desktop (right click on the link and choose Save Target As to the desktop. Overwrite any file by this name that is already there). Start LabView by double clicking on this file. 2. Using the multi-pin cable, connect the Charge Sensor to Analog Channel A on the 750 Interface. The cable runs from the left end of the sensor (in Fig. 5) to Channel A. 3. Connect the lead assembly to the BNC port on the Charge Sensor (right end of the sensor in Fig. 5). Line up the connector on the end of the cable with the pin on the BNC port. Push the connector onto the port and twist it clockwise about one-quarter turn until it clicks into place. Set the Charge Sensor gain to 1x. 4. Connect the charge sensor input lead (red alligator clip) to the pail (the inner wire mesh cylinder), and the ground lead (black alligator clip) to the shield (the outer wire mesh cylinder). MEASUREMENTS Important Notes: The charge producers are delicate. When rubbing them together do so briskly but gently. Each experiment should begin with completely discharged cylinders. To discharge them, ground the pail by touching both it and the shield at the same time with a conductor (e.g. the finger of one hand). You also will always want to zero the charge sensor before starting by pressing the Zero button. Part 1: Polarity of the Charge Producers 1. Ground the pail and zero the charge sensor 2. Start recording data. (Press the green Go button above the graph). 3. Rub the blue and white surfaces of the charge producers together several times. 4. Without touching the pail, lower the white charge producer into the pail. 5. Remove the white charge producer and then lower in the blue charge producer Question 1 (Don t forget to submit answers in the software!): What are the polarities of the white and the blue charge producers? Note: There may be some variations in this from group to group. E02-7

8 Part 2: Charging By Contact Part 2A: Using the White Charge Producer 1. Ground & zero; Start recording; Rub the producers 2. Lower the white charge producer into the pail 3. Rub the charge producer against the inner surface of the pail 4. Remove the charge producer Question 2: Sketch the plot of voltage vs. time and indicate the charge on the inner and outer surfaces of the pail after each of the above steps Answer: ΔV time Charge on inner & outer surfaces of the inner cylinder (indicate sign, and use a variable like q for non-zero magnitudes do NOT simply record numerical values) After Step 1: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 2: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 3: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 4: Q inner = Q outer = Part 2B: Using the Blue Charge Producer 1. Ground & zero; Start recording; Rub the producers 2. Lower the blue charge producer into the inner cylinder 3. Rub the charge producer against the inner surface of the inner cylinder 4. Remove the charge producer Question 3: What happens to the charge on the pail when you rub it with the blue charge producer? E02-8

9 Part 3: Charging By Induction Part 3A: Using the White Charge Producer 1. Ground & zero; Start recording; Rub the producers 2. Lower the white charge producer into the pail, without touching it 3. Ground the pail by connecting it to the shield with your finger 4. Remove the ground connection (your finger) 5. Remove the charge producer Question 4: Sketch the plot of voltage vs. time and indicate the charge on the inner and outer surfaces of the pail after each of the above steps Answer: ΔV time Charge on inner & outer surfaces of the inner cylinder (indicate sign, and use a variable like q for non-zero magnitudes do NOT simply record numerical values) After Step 1: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 2: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 3: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 4: Q inner = Q outer = After Step 5: Q inner = Q outer = 3B: Using the Blue Charge Producer 1. Ground & zero; Start recording; Rub the producers 2. Lower the blue charge producer into the pail, without touching it 3. Ground the pail by connecting it to the shield with your finger 4. Remove the ground connection (your finger) 5. Remove the charge producer E02-9

10 Question 5: What happens to the charge on the pail when you do the above steps? Part 4: Testing the shield 1. Ground & zero; Start recording; Rub the producers 2. Bring the white charge producer to just outside the shield (the outer cylinder) Do Not Touch it! 3. Repeat, bringing the blue charge producer just outside the shield. Question 6: What happens to the charge on the pail when the white charge producer is placed just outside the shield? Will an induced charge distribution appear on the pail? Explain your reasoning. Will an induced charge distribution appear on the shield? Are we sensitive to this? What about the blue charge producer? Further Questions (for experiment, thought, future exam questions ) What happens if we repeat the above measurements with the ground (black clip) attached to the pail and the red clip attached to the shield? Does anything change aside from the sign of the voltage difference? What happens if in part 2 we touch the charge producer to the outside of the pail rather than the inside? What happens if we place the charge producer between the pail & shield rather than inside the pail? What happens if we put both the white & blue charge producers inside the pail together (not touching, just both inside). Is the cancellation exact? Should it be? What if in part 2 we touch the white producer and then the blue producer to the pail? What if we touch the white producer, then recharge it and touch again? Doing this repeatedly, is there a difference between touching the inside of the pail and the outside of the pail? E02-10

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