Using Capacitors to Measure Charge in Electrostatic Experiments

Francisco Vera, Manuel Ortiz, Diego Romero-Maltrana, Francisco Antonio Horta-Rangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In this work we describe a simple setup for measuring electrostatic charge and polarity in electrostatic experiments. This low-cost detector only requires a graphite pencil, a capacitor, two switches, and a voltmeter, and holds the promise of transforming qualitative activities that are commonly used to teach electrostatics into quantitative activities. In order to measure the charge and polarity of charged objects, a pencil is used as an antenna to collect charge from the object under study. The collected charge is transferred to a capacitor, and the resulting voltage at the capacitor is measured using a voltmeter. In contrast to other devices, our detector can be used to measure the amount of charge stored in objects at several thousand volts, as for example Van de Graaff domes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-527
Number of pages3
JournalPhysics Teacher
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Using Capacitors to Measure Charge in Electrostatic Experiments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this