Electricity and magnetism ** 5A50.30 ** Electrostatics

Electrostatic machines

Van de Graaff generator


Warning: The generator can give you a rather nasty shock if you're not careful; always keep the discharge rod closer to the generator than you are.

Theory: The Van de Graaff automates the charging by contact process, transferring charge from ground to the generator globe (or vice versa) by means of a moving belt.

Description: Plug the discharge rod into the ground plug (the middle one) of a three-prong extension cord, and plug the cord into an electrical outlet. When turning the Van de Graaff on or off, or when changing the speed, always place the discharge rod close to the generator globe. In high humidity or when the generator has not been used for a while, it may take a few minutes to get the generator operating properly; when doing so, sparks of several cm in length can be set up between the globe and the discharge rod.

Setup time: 15 minutes

References: (available in the demo room)