The gold leaf electroscope has a very very thin piece of gold foil (called gold leaf) fixed at the top to a piece of copper. The copper has a large round top, called. A gold-leaf electroscope is an instrument used (mainly historically) for the measurement of electric charge or potential. The gold leaf mounts to the central rod, and deflects due to the charge on the Before beginning your experiments with your electroscope, the gold leaf foil must .

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The gold leaf electroscope This is an instrument for detecting and measuring static electricity or voltage. The leaves would again diverge if instead a positively charged rod were brought near the plate. The leaf can be made to fall again by touching the disc – you have earthed the electroscope.

The leaves repel each other and diverge to indicate the presence of a charge.

The repulsion-based electroscope generally supplanted the versorium in the s. The gold leaf diverges from R.

This has a light pivoted aluminum vane hanging next to a vertical metal plate. Kolbe electrometer, precision form of gold-leaf instrument.


The ionization allows the charge of the leaves of the eletcroscope to dissipate slowly. The attraction occurs because of induced polarization [4] of the atoms inside the pith ball.

A The uncharged electroscope with leaves collapsed. The whole of this part of the electroscope is insulated from the body of the instrument.

A gold-leaf electroscope is an instrument ggold mainly historically for the measurement of electric charge or potentialbased on one or electroscopee fine gold foils suspended vertically and free to deflect under electrostatic repulsion when an electric charge was applied seeFigure 1.


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Jeremy Tatum University of Victoria, Canada. If the terminal is grounded by touching it with a fingerthe charge is transferred through the human body into the earth and the gold leaves close together. Then the ball can be used to distinguish the polarity of charge on other objects because it will be repelled by objects charged with the same polarity or sign it has, but attracted to charges of the opposite polarity.

Last modified on 10 December In other projects Wikimedia Commons. G therefore moves away from R. We now know that this is because the metal of which P, R and G are all composed contains electronswhich are negatively charged particles that can move about more or less freely inside the metal. Bring a positively charged glass rod close to P. See diagram at right. The pith ball can be charged by touching it to a charged object, so some of the charges on the surface of the charged object move to the surface of the ball.

The gold leaf electroscope

Abraham Benneta clergyman and man of science, first described the instrument in Philosophical Transactions in Researchers quickly realized, however, that the type of charge was simple to determine by following the initial charging of the device with the application of a known charge from amber, fur or some other familiar, well-studied material.


Similar charges repel each other and so the leaf rises away from the plate – the bigger the charge the more the leaf rises. They also capture charge leaking through the air that accumulate on the glass walls, and that increase the sensitivity of the instrument. In order to electeoscope the presence of a charge on an object, the object is brought near to the uncharged pith ball.

gold-leaf electroscope

Although never very accurate, the instruments could sometimes detect as little as 10 coulomb and were used to measure radiation intensity through the rate of charge leakage caused by ionization of the air. If on the other hand you were to approach P with a negatively charged plastic rod, electrons would be repelled from P down towards the bottom of the rod, thus reducing the excess positive charge there. A light gold leaf G is attached to the lower end of the rod. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London.

Archived from the original on The leaves close because the charge is all concentrated at the terminal end.