NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1025041
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Nov
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Indirect Charged Particle Detection: Concepts and a Classroom Demonstration
Childs, Nicholas B.; Horányi, Mihály; Collette, Andrew
Physics Teacher, v51 n8 p472-475 Nov 2013
We describe the principles of macroscopic charged particle detection in the laboratory and their connections to concepts taught in the physics classroom. Electrostatic dust accelerator systems, capable of launching charged dust grains at hypervelocities (1-100 km/s), are a critical tool for space exploration. Dust grains in space typically have large speeds relative to the probes or satellites that encounter them. Development and testing of instruments that look for dust in space therefore depends critically on the availability of fast, well-characterized dust grains in the laboratory. One challenge for the experimentalist is to precisely measure the speed and mass of laboratory dust particles without disturbing them. Detection systems currently in use exploit the well-known effect of image charge to register the passage of dust grains without changing their speed or mass. We describe the principles of image charge detection and provide a simple classroom demonstration of the technique using soup cans and pith balls.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A