31 Dec

What is the Triboelectric Effect?

What is the Triboelectric Effect?

Static electricity is an imbalance of electrical charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge.

Nature likes things to be in balance, therefore static electricity will inevitably result in an electrical discharge unless otherwise redirected by means of a pathway or current.

So the question is… How does an imbalance of electrical charges occur?

The answer is with the Triboelectric Effect.

To understand it, we first need to review a few basics.

Where Electrical Charges Come From

At rest, objects are neither negatively nor positively charged. In this state, they are considered neutral with respect to electrical charge.

The basics of the atom: nucleus and electrons

The atom is made up of a nucleus (containing protons, neutrons) surrounded by an orbiting cloud of electrons

If you remember your high-school physics on the construction of the atom, you’ll recall that every atom has protons (which are positively charged) and neutrons (which are neither positively nor negatively charged) in the nucleus, which is surrounded by electrons (which are negatively charged).

The atom holds onto its nucleus very tightly—in fact the forces that hold the nucleus together are, quite literally, nuclear.

The electrons, on the other hand, have the ability to flow from one object to another by contact. Some objects are more willing to release electrons than others, while other objects are more able to attract electrons. Whether electrons are likely to come or go really depends upon the materials, the pairing of two objects and other environmental conditions, such as air quality.

Materials have been ranked by scientists in the order of their ability to hold or give up electrons upon contact. This ranking is called the Triboelectric Series.

The Triboelectric Effect

Under ideal conditions, if two materials are rubbed together, the one higher on the list should give up electrons and become positively charged.

With repeated contact, a bond is created between the objects as the two items exchange electrons. However, when separation occurs, each object does not necessarily carry off the same number of electrons that it brought to the party.

Therein lies the imbalance of electrical charges where one object will have a buildup of negative charges and the other a buildup of positive charges.

This process of building up an electrical charge through contact is known as the Triboelectric Effect.

How Does Electrostatic Discharge Occur?

You have heard that opposites attract. So it is with the negatively charged and positively charged objects.

Remember we said earlier that nature will seek out a balance? Therefore, when you move a more positively charged item close to an item that is neutral or more negatively charged, the electrons will be attracted to—and try to flow toward—the positive charge. The same is true in reverse.

This movement of the electrons seeking balance is the electrostatic discharge, which creates a shock or spark—sometimes too small to detect, and other times quite powerful and destructive!

It is very important to be aware and understand the movement of these electrons through a work space in order to limit the possibility of costly and damaging discharges of static electricity.

24 Dec

Why Should I Care About ESD?

Why Should I Care About ESD?

Electrocstatic discharge (ESD)… what in the world is it and why should I care about it?

If you’re an engineer, an architect, or in the electronics manufacturing industry, you’re most likely aware of what ESD is and the havoc it can wreak.

But, if you’re not in any of those industries, should you even bother caring about what it is?


Maybe you:

  • install and maintain computer networks
  • repair electronic devices
  • are a serious gamer who likes to tinker with your computers
  • are a workbench enthusiast who likes to take stuff apart, or
  • manage a team of people who work with sensitive or valuable data (your data is valuable, right?)

No matter what the case… you need to be aware of electrostatic discharge and its effects on your electronics.

First of all… What is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge, or ESD, is a natural phenomenon. It’s present in everyday life and happens all the time, often without anyone realizing it. It is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects caused by contact, an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown (electrical breakdown).

This sudden flow of electricity is what causes problems for computer networks and  everyday electronic devices.

An obvious form of electrostatic discharge would be lightning (also known as large-scale ESD event), but a less obvious form would be the shock you feel after walking across carpet and then touching the doorknob. Perhaps the most insidious forms are the ones too small for you to detect, but powerful enough to damage the circuits on your devices.

Why Should I Care?

Two significant reasons for being aware of ESD and its effects are…

  • Loss of Peak Performance. If you would like your networks or equipment to perform optimally, you should take steps to avoid ESD damage. Over time, ESD reduces the performance of your system and can significantly reduce the life of your equipment. Save yourself the time, money, and hassle and protect your equipment.
  • It’s Expensive! Over 50% of hardware failures are due to electrostatic discharge. Eliminate ESD and save money!

How Do I Protect My Networks and Devices?

So whether you’re the “IT guy” or the “gamer gal,” creating an Electrostatic Discharge Protected Area is a great starting point, including:

  • ESD flooring
  • Grounding devices like wrist straps
  • Grounded static dissipative work surfaces
  • ESD clothing and shoes
  • ESD packaging
  • Signage

If you need more information regarding electrostatic discharge, we’re here to provide the expertise you need, as well as the equipment.  As experts in the prevention and elimination of ESD for more than 15 years, we have the knowledge and proven catalog of products to help you solve any of your ESD challenges. Feel free to check out the rest of our blog or get in touch anytime.

17 Dec

Do You Need Static Control Flooring?

Do You Need Static Control Floors?

Does your business have a substantial investment in electronics or computers?

Have you ever experienced an unexplained failure? Perhaps one of your critical systems went down with no warning at a critical time (there’s never really a convenient time for that, is there?), or perhaps a component was working beautifully one minute and performing erratically the next.

One of the most nefarious—and hardest to detect— culprits behind failures of this kind is electrostatic discharge. By some estimates, it could be responsible for more than fifty percent of hardware failures, costing upwards of $5 billion each year.

So, if you have devices, people, and floors, then you face risks from the devastating effects of static electricity—specifically electrostatic discharge (ESD).

How Can Floors Protect Equipment from ESD Damage?

Since static control flooring provides an attractive “escape route” for static electricity that builds up in the most common of circumstances, it can be a relatively simple and inexpensive way to protect your valuable data & devices from getting zapped.

Aren’t specialized static control floors ugly?

If the thought of specialized protective flooring conjures up images of server rooms, data centers, or ugly hospital wards, then we’ve got good news!

Today, ESD floors come in an amazing array of materials, styles, and colors. Sure… we install rubber floors. We epoxy concrete.

But we also have attractive broadloom carpet that provides decent ESD protection for your sensitive electronics in beautiful designs—so beautiful, in fact, that no one would ever suspect that the carpet is actually serving a valuable purpose beyond that of ordinary carpet!

In addition to broadloom carpet, we also carry carpet tiles and vinyl tiles and sheet flooring. Each is suitable for different situations, and they are available in configurations that provide varying degrees of protection depending upon your specific situation.

Which Static Control Floor is Right for You?

Whether you run a manufacturing facility or a cubicle farm, a call center or a clean room, the fantastic assortment of options available today means that you can find a flooring solution that meets your needs. Obviously, there are a number of factors involved in making the right decision.

Some of the considerations you’ll need to include in your decision-making process include:

  • Durability: Will the floor be in a high-traffic area? The volume of foot traffic will certainly affect how long your floor will last, and therefore should be considered as part of the overall cost of ownership.
  • Maintenance: Since your floor contains components—from conductive carpet fibers to embedded veins of specialized materials—to give static electricity a place to go, you’ll want to weigh out the maintenance needs of the flooring.
  • Static Control Performance: ESD flooring comes in various levels of effectiveness (measured by its “conductivity”). How conductive or dissipative your floor needs to be depends upon the nature of your equipment, the installation environment, and the nature of the usage.
  • Other Factors: Does the floor need to help absorb sound to help control the noise in the environment? Do you need slip protection? What chemicals might be spilled on your floor?

As you can see, the flooring choices available to you can be a bit of a dizzying maze. But there’s good news: we’re here to help you navigate! Reach out today, and let our team of experts help you find the most effective solution at the right budget to match your situation perfectly!