The electric charge packet investigated here is a transverse packet, which is elongated in the direction perpendicular to its motion (motion is indicated by the v arrow). Unlike point charges and longitudinal packets, a fast-moving transverse packet that travels parallel to a metal surface can be repelled by that surface. Credit: Primož Rebernik Ribi? ©2012 American Physical Society

Metal surface can repel electric charges

January 8, 2013 by Lisa Zyga

(—Metals are known for being good electrical conductors. Due to this property, a stationary electric point charge placed outside a metal will cause the electrons in the metal to redistribute in such a way that the point charge will always be attracted toward the metal surface. However, a new study shows that a metal surface will repel an electric charge packet moving parallel to it when the charge packet has a certain geometry and travels at a sufficiently high energy. It’s not just metal surfaces that repel electric charges; any surface will repel this kind of charge packet since the repulsion is caused by the properties of the packet, not the surface. The counterintuitive phenomenon could have implications for improving particle accelerator experiments.

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