Leyden Jar being Discharged

Leyden Jar being Discharged STEM World History Education

This image, by an unknown artist, depicts a Leyden Jar being discharged.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory tells us how the Leyden Jar works (and provides a Java-based animation for better understanding):

A hand-turned crank causes the glass cylinder to revolve. Leather pressing on the glass produces an electric charge: The friction causes positive ions to collect on the leather, and negative particles (the electrons depicted here in yellow) to stick to the glass before being collected by the comb-shaped metal collector.

At the end of the collector is a metal ball. With sufficient buildup, the charge can jump as a spark from the generator’s metal ball to the metal ball on top of the nearby Leyden jar, where the charge can be stored.

The first capacitor, the Leyden jar was a glass jar coated inside and out with metal. The inner coating was connected to a rod that passed through the lid and ended in a metal ball.

As you can see by moving the Leyden jar separation slider ... the farther the jar is from the generator, the greater the build-up of charge required in the generator for it to discharge to the jar.

Today Leyden Jars have been replaced by more-sophisticated devices, but in its day this invention was incredibly important both to scientists (who worked with it) and to the public (who benefitted from it).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 20, 2014

Updated Last Revision: May 17, 2017

Media Credits

Image, described above, online via Wikimedia Commons.




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"Leyden Jar being Discharged" AwesomeStories.com. May 20, 2014. Jun 03, 2020.
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