Lord Kelvin's Waterdrop Experiment

Order Demo

This unit allows you to easily recreate Lord Kelvin's famous electrostatics experiment, in which an electrical current is induced by the breaking apart of water droplets. After a cascading separation of charges, an extremely high potential is reached causing a faint arc at the break in the wire (30kV/cm). Current then travels through the wires of the unit, to light the neon lamp (70V). The best gap is between 2 and 6 mm (6000 to 18000V).

Instructions available. Discussion of Millikan's experiments and Coulomb's Law are presented as Follow-Up Material, for more advanced students.

You will need to ground one of the cans to something metal. Expect a flash about once every 3 to 5 seconds.