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Q & A: electrical conductivity of silk

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Most recent answer: 05/13/2015
Q:
I've read that Stephen Gray in his experiments on electricity, he has found that static electricity can be conducted (transfered) through some insulator threads made from silk. So, how that could happen if they are insulators ?
- Joe (age 22)
Egypt
A:

Silk isn't a great insulator. When exposed to a somewhat humid atmosphere it has significant electrical conductivity. Here's a paper showing how the conductivity depends on the relative humidity: .

Apparently the silk Gray used was just conductive enough to let the charges he was looking at drain away slowly.

Mike W.


(published on 05/13/2015)

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