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A REVIEW OF CURRENT ELECTROSTATIC MEASUREMENT TECHNIQUES AND THEIR LIMITATIONS by WILLIAM E. VOSTEEN Monroe Electronics, Inc.Lyndonville, NY 14098
In electrostatic measurements, as in any otherscientific measurements, there are two areas oflimitations.1.
The limitation of the methods orinstrumentation used to gather the data.2.The researcher’s understanding of thesubject under investigation.In this paper I will attempt to review somebasic electrostatic principles in order to givethe reader a necessary understanding to makeaccurate electrostatic measurements. Then I’llreview the current state of the art in ofelectrostatic voltmeters and field-meters andtheir limitations.It is well known that all matter is made up ofpositively and negatively charged electricalparticles. Whenever there is an abundance ofone polarity in a certain area, an electricfield E is produced. An electric field is saidto exist at a point if a force of electricalorigin is exerted on a test charge at thatpoint.Please note that electric field is a vectorquantity with force and direction for which theunits are Newtons per coulomb or volts permeter. This is the definition of electricfield.When we move one coulomb of charge from onepoint to another in an electric field, we aredoing work on that charge. The term we use forthis is electric potential or voltage.Again, a volt is the amount of work it takes tomove one coulomb of charge a certain distancethrough an electrical field E.This now leads us to capacitance. A capacitoris normally viewed as any two conductorsseparated by an insulator but can be moregenerally defined as follows:The capacitance C of a capacitor is the ratio ofthe magnitude of the charge Q on two bodies tothe potential difference between the bodies.C in Farads,
in coulombs, V in volts.The energy stored in a capacitor is:2W (work)= 1/2 CVI feel these are the most important concepts tograsp in order to make scientific electrostaticmeasurements. I will give two examples to showhow these laws are important in electrostaticmeasurement.The first example I will use is where acontinuous sheet (“web”) of plastic or othernon-conductor runs over rollers as in a usualprocessing situation. It is very common to havesignificant charge build-up in this type ofsituation. First let us assume that the “web” isuniformly “charged”. The capacitance (C) of anysmall area of the web is proportional to itsarea (A) divided by the distance
the web isfrom any grounded object.If the web is in close contact with the rollers,
is very small and C is maximum. As the webmoves off the roller into free space,
increases dramatically from almost 0, thethickness of the material to tens ofcentimeters. The capacitance C changes inverselyproportional as noted above.From this we can see that changes of capacitancein order of 100 to 1000 is not unusual.