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Name: Nicole
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Question:
Does diamagnetism have any effect on static electricity?



Replies:
No, Nicole, not directly.
Diamagnetism means this material affects magnetic fields by excluding them slightly, pushing them away. It does not mean anything about the collecting or keeping of static electric charges.

Graphite and Bismuth are some of the strongest diamagnetic materials. They both happen to be conductors of electricity, so any static charge they hold can go freely to any part of that piece of material. If a lump of graphite is sitting on an insulator, then it can be holding a static charge. (Same as any metal, really, as far as static electricity is concerned.) That insulator would have to be made of something other than graphite or bismuth.

Not sure whether most strongly diamagnetic materials are conductors, or if there are both conductors and insulators, too.

Oh, I just thought of something. Some magnetic levitation is done by diamagnetism. Graphite or bismuth can be forced to float in mid-air by their repulsion of some strong magnet very nearby. The air they float in is a very good insulator, so now the levitating object can hold static electricity for a relatively long time. If someone slowly puts more and more static charge on the object, then when the static charge got large enough, electrostatic attraction to the metal magnet would be stronger than diamagnetic repulsion from the magnet. As the charge built up, the object would hover lower and lower, then drop-and-touch or make a spark. Immediately after that the object would pop up to full diamagnetic levitating height again because now the static is gone.

Jim Swenson



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