Attraction Between Like Electrostatic Charges Discovered

Jan 26, 2016, 08:30 ET from Thomas Manz

LAS CRUCES, N.M., Jan. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Thomas Manz, an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, published a journal article this month describing a device in which electrostatic charges of the same sign attract each other. This appears to be the first reported attraction rather than repulsion between electrostatic charges of the same sign. The device contains a pair of thin metallized dielectric foils that are charged with static electricity. Manz showed this unusual attractive force is caused by scattering or reflecting electromagnetic waves off the charge carriers and produces a liquid-like electronic phase.

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Manz's research on the effect began with an unplanned discovery more than twenty years ago when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. After more than twenty years of part-time research, he finally understood the effect well enough to publish a scientific journal article on it. "When I first observed this effect more than twenty years ago, I immediately knew it is something unusual, because it doesn't follow the textbooks," Manz said. "It has taken me more than twenty years of part-time research to figure out what causes this effect."

Preliminary experiments and theoretical analysis indicate this electromagnetic scattering or reflection occurs mainly within the infrared and microwave frequencies associated with thermal motions. This suggests potential applications for shielding electronic circuits and other objects from electromagnetic radiation within these frequencies. NASA and the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium provided part of the research funding during the last year. NASA became interested in potential applications for shielding electronic circuits in space.

More information can be found by reading the journal article at This journal article contains a series of videos and photos documenting the effect and its reproducibility together with a theoretical analysis.


Thomas Manz
assistant professor, Chemical & Materials Engineering
New Mexico State University

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SOURCE Thomas Manz