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Opeña, Reymart Lou B. Mr.

Goffer Augustine Yagonia
Van de Graaff generator
This article is about the machine used to accumulate electrical charge on a metal globe. For the progressive rock
band with a similar name, see Van der Graaf Generator.
Van de Graaff generator
Van de Graaff generator.
Accelerating electrons to sterilize food and process materials,
acceleratingprotons for nuclear pysicse!periments, dri"ing #$ray tu%es, etc.
Inventor Ro%ert &. Van de Graaff
Van de Graaff, linear particle accelerator
A Van de Graaff generator is an electrostatic generator 'ic uses a mo"ing %elt to accumulate "ery ig amounts
of electrical potential on a ollo' metal glo%e on te top of te stand. (t 'as in"ented %y American pysicist Ro%ert &.
Van de Graaff in )*+*. ,e potential difference acie"ed in modern Van de Graaff generators can reac - mega"olts.
A ta%letop "ersion can produce on te order of )..,... "olts and can store enoug energy to produce a "isi%le spar/.
A Van de Graaff generator operates %y transferring electric carge from a mo"ing %elt to a terminal. 0irst in"ented in
)*+*, te Van de Graaff generator %ecame a source of ig "oltage for accelerating su%atomic particles to ig speeds,
ma/ing it a useful tool for fundamental pysics researc.
A simple Van de Graaff$generator consists of a %elt of sil/, or a similar fle!i%le dielectric material, running o"er
t'o metal pulleys, one of 'ic is surrounded %y a ollo' metal spere.1)2 ,'o electrodes, 3+4 and 354, in te
form of com%$saped ro's of sarp metal points, are positioned respecti"ely near to te %ottom of te lo'er
pulley and inside te spere, o"er te upper pulley. 6om% 3+4 is connected to te spere, and com% 354 to te
ground. A ig 76 potential 3'it respect to eart4 is applied to roller 3849 a positi"e potential in tis e!ample.
As te %elt passes in front of te lo'er com%, it recei"es negati"e carge tat escapes from its points due to te
influence of te electric field around te lo'er pulley, 'ic ionizes te air at te points. As te %elt touces te
lo'er roller 3:4, it transfers some electrons, lea"ing te roller 'it a negati"e carge 3if it is insulated from te
terminal4, 'ic added to te negati"e carge in te %elt generates enoug electric field to ionize te air at te
points of te upper com%. ;lectrons ten lea/ from te %elt to te upper com% and to te terminal, lea"ing te
%elt positi"ely carged as it returns do'n and te terminal negati"ely carged. ,e spere sields te upper
roller and com% from te electric field generated %y carges tat accumulate at te outer surface of it, causing te
discarge and cange of polarity of te %elt at te upper roller to occur practically as if te terminal 'ere
grounded. As te %elt continues to mo"e, a constant <carging current< tra"els "ia te %elt, and te spere
continues to accumulate negati"e carge until te rate tat carge is %eing lost 3troug lea/age and corona
discarges4 e=uals te carging current. ,e larger te spere and te farter it is from ground, te iger 'ill %e
its final potential.
Anoter metod for %uilding Van de Graaff generators is to use te tri%oelectric effect. ,e friction %et'een te
%elt and te rollers, one of tem no' made of insulating material, or %ot made 'it insulating materials at
different positions on te tri%oelectric scale, one a%o"e and oter %elo' te material of te %elt, carges te
rollers 'it opposite polarities. ,e strong e$field from te rollers ten induces a corona discarge at te tips of
te pointed com% electrodes. ,e electrodes ten >spray> a carge onto te %elt 'ic is opposite in polarity to
te carge on te rollers. ,e remaining operation is oter'ise te same as te "oltage$in?ecting "ersion a%o"e.
,is type of generator is easier to %uild for science fair or omemade pro?ects, since it does not re=uire a
potentially dangerous ig$"oltage source. ,e trade$off is tat it cannot %uild up as ig a "oltage as te oter
type, tat cannot also %e easily regulated, and operation may %ecome difficult under umid conditions 3'ic
can se"erely reduce tri%oelectric effects4. 0inally, since te position of te rollers can %e re"ersed, te
accumulated carge on te ollo' metal spere can eiter %e positi"e or negati"e.
A Van de Graaff generator terminal does not need to %e spere$saped to 'or/, and in fact, te optimum sape is
a spere 'it an in'ard cur"e around te ole 'ere te %elt enters. @ince electrically carged conductors a"e
no e$field inside, carges can %e added continuously. A rounded terminal minimizes te electric field around it,
allo'ing greater potentials to %e acie"ed 'itout ionization of te surrounding air, or oter dielectric gas.
Outside te spere, te e$field =uic/ly %ecomes "ery strong and applying carges from te outside 'ould soon
%e pre"ented %y te field.
@ince a Van de Graaff generator can supply te same small current at almost any le"el of electrical potential, it is
an e!ample of a nearly ideal current source. ,e ma!imum acie"a%le potential is appro!imately e=ual to te
spere<s radius multiplied %y te e$field 'ere corona discarges %egin to form 'itin te surrounding gas. 0or
e!ample, a polised sperical electrode 8. cm in diameter immersed in air at @,A 3'ic as a %rea/do'n
"oltage of a%out 8. /VBcm4 could %e e!pected to de"elop a ma!imum "oltage of a%out C-. /V.
,e fundamental idea for te friction macine as ig$"oltage supply, using electrostatic influence to carge
rotating dis/ or %elt, can %e traced %ac/ to te )5t century or e"en %efore 3cf. 0riction macines Distory4
,e Van de Graaff generator 'as de"eloped, starting in )*+*, %y pysicist Ro%ert &. Van de
Graaff at Arinceton Eni"ersity 'it elp from colleague Ficolas Bur/e. ,e first model 'as demonstrated
in Octo%er )*+*.1+2 ,e first macine used a sil/ ri%%on %ougt at a fi"e$and$dime store as te carge
transport %elt. (n )*8), a "ersion a%le to produce ),...,... "olts 'as descri%ed in a patent disclosure. ,is
"ersion ad t'o :.$cm$diameter carge$accumulation speres mounted on %orosilicate glass columns
)G. cm ig9 te apparatus cost only H*. in )*8).182
Van de Graaff applied for a patent in 7ecem%er )*8), 'ic 'as assigned to M(, in e!cange for a sare
of net income. ,e patent 'as later granted.
(n )*88, Van de Graaff %uilt a C.$foot 3)+$m4 model at M(,<s Round Dill facility, te use of 'ic 'as
donated %y 6olonel ;d'ard D. R. Green.
A more recent de"elopment is te tandem Van de Graaff accelerator, containing one or more Van de
Graaff generators, in 'ic negati"ely carged ions are accelerated troug one potential difference %efore
%eing stripped of t'o or more electrons, inside a ig "oltage terminal, and accelerated again. An e!ample
of a tree$stage operation as %een %uilt in O!ford Fuclear La%oratory in )*:C of a ). MV single$ended
>in?ector> and a : MV ;F tandem.1C2
One of Van de Graaff<s accelerators used t'o carged domes of sufficient size tat eac of te domes ad
la%oratories inside $ one to pro"ide te source of te accelerated %eam, and te oter to analyze te actual
e!periment. ,e po'er for te e=uipment inside te domes came from generators tat ran off te %elt, and
se"eral sessions came to a rater gruesome end 'en a pigeon 'ould try to fly %et'een te t'o domes,
causing tem to discarge. 3,e accelerator 'as set up in an airplane angar.41-2
By te )*5.s, up to )C million "olts could %e acie"ed at te terminal of a tandem tat used a tan/ of ig$
pressure sulfur e!afluoride 3@0:4 gas to pre"ent spar/ing %y trapping electrons. ,is allo'ed te
generation of ea"y ion %eams of se"eral tens of megaelectron"olts, sufficient to study ligt ion direct
nuclear reactions. ,e igest potential sustained %y a Van de Graaff accelerator is +-.- MV, acie"ed %y
te tandem at te Dolifield Radioacti"e (on Beam 0acility at Oa/ Ridge Fational La%oratory.1citation
A furter de"elopment is te pelletron, 'ere te ru%%er or fa%ric %elt is replaced %y a cain of sort
conducti"e rods connected %y insulating lin/s, and te air$ionizing electrodes are replaced %y a grounded
roller and inducti"e carging electrode. ,e cain can %e operated at muc iger "elocity tan a %elt, and
%ot te "oltage and currents attaina%le are muc iger tan 'it a con"entional Van de Graaff generator.
,e )C E7 Dea"y (on Accelerator at ,e Australian Fational Eni"ersity ouses a )-$million$"olt pelletron.
(ts cains are more tan +. meters long and can tra"el faster tan -. /mBr.1:2
,e Fuclear @tructure 0acility 3F@04152 at 7ares%ury La%oratory 'as proposed in te )*5.s, commissioned
in )*G), and opened for e!periments in )*G8. (t consisted of a tandem Van de Graaff generator operating
routinely at +. MV, oused in a distincti"e %uilding 5. metres ig. 7uring its lifetime, it accelerated G.
different ion %eams for e!perimental use, ranging from protons to uranium. A particular feature 'as te
a%ility to accelerate rare isotopic and radioacti"e %eams. Aeraps te most important disco"ery made on te
F@0 'as tat of super$deformed nuclei. ,ese nuclei, 'en formed from te fusion of ligter elements,
rotate "ery rapidly. ,e pattern of gamma rays emitted as tey slo' do'n pro"ided detailed information
a%out te inner structure of te nucleus. 0ollo'ing financial cut%ac/s, te F@0 closed in )**8.
Van de Graaff generators on display
,e largest air$insulated Van de Graaff generator in te 'orld, %uilt %y 7r. Van de Graaff in te )*8.s,
is no' on permanent display at Boston<s Museum of @cience. Iit t'o con?oined C.-$meter 3)-$
foot4 aluminium speres standing on columns ++ feet 3:.5 m4 tall, tis generator can often reac + MV
3+ million "olts4. @o's using te Van de Graaff generator and se"eral ,esla coils are conducted t'o to
tree times a day. Many science museums, suc as te American Museum of @cience and ;nergy, a"e
small$scale Van de Graaff generators on display, and e!ploit teir static$producing =ualities to create
>ligtning> or ma/e people<s air stand up. Van de Graaff generators are also used in scools and in
science so's.
6omparison 'it oter ig$"oltage generators
Oter classical electrostatic macines li/e a Iimsurst macine or a Bonetti macine1G2 can easily
produce more current tan a Van de Graaff generator for e!periments 'it electrostatics, and a"e
positi"e and negati"e outputs. ,e less$insulated structures, o'e"er, result in smaller "oltages.
,e idea of %ringing small amounts of carge into te middle of a large metal container 'ere carge
can accumulate to large "alues is central to te operation of te "an de Graaff generator. ,e same
pysics is at 'or/ in te Jel"in 'ater dropper. (n tat de"ice, separate carged drops of 'ater fall
under gra"ity against same$carge %uc/ets, %uilding up carge. (n te "an de Graaff, small units of
carge on an insulating %elt ride into te large spere using e!ternal 'or/ pro"ided %y a motor.
).Jump up^ Van de Graaf biography
+.Jump up^ Article "Van de Graaf's Generator", in "Electrical Engineering Handbook", (ed)., CC
!ress, "oca aton, #lorida $%A, &''( )%"* +,-.'(,+&-/,-
8.Jump up^ 0. 1akacs, Energy Stabilization of Electrostatic Accelerators, 0ohn 2iley and %ons,
Chichester, &''3
C.Jump up^ http455666.7os.org5sln5toe5history.ht7l
-.Jump up^ http455666.an8.ed8.a85C%E957achines5Accelerator.ht7
:.Jump up^ 0 % :illey &'-; !hys. %cr. ;/ .(/,..; doi4&+.&+--5++(&,-'.'5;/5(5++&)
5.Jump up^ "1he "onetti electrostatic 7achine". 666.coe.8< etrie>ed ;+&+,+',&..