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Van De Graaff Generator:

“Van de graaff generator is an electrostatic generator that is capable

of producing enormously large static electric potential as high as 5
million volts or 5 megavolts.”

A van de graaff generator is an electrostatic generator which uses a

moving belt to accumulate electric charge on a hollow metal globe on
the top of an insulated column, creating very high electric potentials.
 It was invented by American physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff
during 1929.
 It produces very high voltage direct current (DC) electricity at low
current levels.
 The potential difference achieved by modern Van de Graaff
generators can be as much as 5 megavolts.
 A tabletop version can produce on the order of 100,000 volts and
can store enough energy to produce a visible spark.
 Small Van de Graaff machines are produced for entertainment,
and for physics education to teach electrostatics.
 Van de Graaff generators are still used as accelerators to generate
energetic particle and x-ray beams for nuclear research and
nuclear medicine.
Working Principle:
 If a charge conductor is brought internally in contact with a hollow
conductor all the charges from the inner conductor is transferred
to the surface of outer conductor no matter what amount of
charge is already present on outer shell.

 The voltage produced by an open-air Van de Graaff machine is

limited by arcing and corona discharge to about 5 megavolts.
Most modern industrial machines are enclosed in a pressurized
tank of insulating gas, these can achieve potentials of as much as
about 25 megavolts.
Van de graaff generator:
 The Van de graaff generator is consist of a large metallic hollow
 The generator is mounted on insulated support or pillars.
 A wide flexible belt made of rubber ( or a similar flexible dielectric
material ) moving over rollers.
 Two electrodes, in the form of comb-shaped rows of sharp metal
points, are positioned near the bottom of the lower roller and
inside the sphere, over the upper roller.
 One comb ( electrode ) is called Spray comb and the other comb
is called collector or receiver comb.
 Spray comb is connected to a positive terminal of a High voltage
rectifier ( HVR ).
 Collector or receiver comb is connected to hollow metal sphere.
 An electric motor is used to run the lower roller.

 The spray comb which is at which is at high positive potential,
sprays positive charges onto the outer side of the belt and these
positive charges are carried upward.
 The positive charges carried upward by the belt are collected by
collector comb.
 Since the collector comb is connected to the hollow conductor,
the charge gets transferred to the hollow metal sphere.
 As more and more charge is transferred to the sphere its potential
goes on increasing.
 Since the belt continuously carries positive charge to the receiver
comb the spherical shell collects enormous amount of charges
and develops huge potential.
 It becomes difficult for the surface to hold more and more
charges due to the force of repulsion between the like charges on
the dome.
 When the potential of the spherical shell exceeds breakdown
value of air, air around the sphere gets ionized and leakage of
charge takes place from the sphere.
 As a result of repulsion there is discharge of the charge in the
form of spark.
 In order to prevent the leakage of charge the whole apparatus is
enclosed in a insulating gas filled steel chamber.
Uses of Van de graaff generator:

 Accelerating electrons to sterilize ( make something free from

bacteria ) food and process materials.
 Accelerating protons for nuclear physics experiments.
 Producing energetic X-ray beams in nuclear medicine.
 Physics educational laboratories. etc.
Van de graaff generator with acceleration