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 leaves repel each other and diverge to indicate the presence of a charge. However, the accumulation of enough charge to detect with an electroscope requires hundreds or thousands of voltsso electroscopes are only used with high-voltage sources such as static electricity and electrostatic machines.

Electroscope from about with grounding electrodes inside jar, as described above. How a gold-leaf electroscope works.

A metal disc is connected to a narrow metal plate and a thin piece of gold leaf is fixed to the plate. The goldd of the positively charged glass rod to P attracts electrosocpe towards P, thus increasing the excess positive charge on G and the bottom end of R. The pith is a nonconductorso the electrons in the ball are bound to atoms of the pith and are not free to leave the atoms and move about in the ball, but they can move a little within the atoms.

The gold leaf electroscope, like the one illustrated here, first appeared in the latter part of the 18th century.

gold-leaf electroscope

For centuries, it was one of the most popular instruments used by scientists to study electricity. A light gold leaf G is attached to the lower end of the rod.


The gold leaf diverges from R. A Short History of Technology: To keep breezes, moisture and other outside influences from disturbing results, some researchers began housing the components of their electroscopes in glass jars or other vessels. This is an instrument for detecting and measuring leac electricity or voltage. If a charged object is brought near the electroscope terminal, the leaves also diverge, because the electtroscope field of the object causes charges in the electroscope rod to separate the leaves.

The rod extended out of the top of the housing. Views Read Edit View history. Gold is a malleable metal which can be hammered into extremely thin and light sheets. When charged the vane is repelled by the plate and hangs at an angle. The charge then flowed down to the gold leaves and evenly distributed across their surfaces. A glass front prevents air draughts but allows you to watch the behaviour of the leaf.

By means of gild negatively charged plastic rod and some deft work with your finger, you have induced a positive charge on the electroscope. golr

The leaves close because the charge is all concentrated at the terminal end. You can now experiment as follows. The presence of electricity in a nearby object caused the needle to move.

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E and F The leaves diverge even further when the rod is brought nearer to the plate indicating that the influence of the charges is greater at close range. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. In addition, they found that the electroscope was useful in determining the relative amount of charge present. If the electroscope terminal is grounded while the charged object is nearby, by touching it momentarily with a finger, the same polarity charges in the leaves drain away to ground, leaving the electroscope with a net charge of opposite polarity to the object.


Once electrified, the leaves moved apart because their similar charges triggered repulsion. 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.

This operation is the first in a series which lead to the charging of the electroscope by induction. The ionization allows the charge of the leaves of the electroscope to dissipate slowly. Negatively charged electrons run down through your body to ground or earth. A gold-leaf electroscope has a vertical rod R attached to a flat metal plate P. For the 19th century conceptual model of television, see Telectroscope.

The greater the angle, they ascertained, the stronger the repulsion and the greater the charge present.

gold-leaf electroscope

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Gold-leaf electroscope, from the physics department of Rome University “La Sapienza”. The gold leaf diverges again. An earth terminal prevents the case from becoming live.