The triboelectric effect, charge transfer during sliding, is well established but the thermodynamic driver is not well understood. We hypothesize here that flexoelectric potential differences induced by inhomogeneous strains at nanoscale asperities drive tribocharge separation. Modeling single asperity elastic contacts suggests that nanoscale flexoelectric potential differences of ±1-10 V or larger arise during indentation and pull-off. This hypothesis agrees with several experimental observations, including bipolar charging during stick slip, inhomogeneous tribocharge patterns, charging between similar materials, and surface charge density measurements.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)