Standard Article

Tribocharging and the Triboelectric Series

  1. Diana M. Gooding,
  2. George K. Kaufman

Published Online: 14 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc2239

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Gooding, D. M. and Kaufman, G. K. 2014. Tribocharging and the Triboelectric Series. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. 1–9.

Author Information

  1. Transylvania University, Lexington, KY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2014


Tribocharging is a process in which materials contact one another, rub, and then separate, each with a resulting charge distribution. This process is familiar and applied extensively in processes such as electrophotography and energy harvesting, but it is not completely understood. The triboelectric series is a qualitative or semiquantitative ordering of materials according to their tendency to develop a positive or negative net charge when tribocharged against other materials. It is remarkable that, despite differences in surface preparation, modes of contact among materials, and laboratory conditions, triboelectric series generated by different groups remain largely consistent with each other. This article examines a variety of triboelectric series, discrepancies among them, and the competing possible mechanisms behind tribocharging, which appear to include electron transfer, ion transfer, H+ and OH partitioning, bond dissociation, chemical changes, and material transfer. Combinations of these mechanisms may occur simultaneously but at different rates, which may help to explain some of the inconsistencies among different triboelectric series.


  • contact electrification;
  • electrets;
  • electrophotography;
  • static charging;
  • static cling;
  • static electricity;
  • toner;
  • tribocharging;
  • triboelectric series