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Heidi K

22k Gold Decals with positive/negative charge?

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Hi all!

I've been doing a lot of small decal work lately, and I've come to realize that when I put the decals (22k gold) in the water to soften and release the paper, they act like they're magnetized and line themselves up end to end or side to side. I'll plop a number of them in the water at the same time, and they'll all dance around and line themselves up nicely, clinging to each other in a very orderly fashion. I'm fascinated and want to know what causes it! I've googled but haven't found anything.

Say for example each decal has a north, south, east, and west side. Any north or south side will attract any other north or south side but will repel any east or west side and vice versa. The charge is not strong enough to be noticeable outside of water - it needs the weightlessness of floating in order to show itself. Here's a video example.

Anyone understand the science on what's happening here and care to enlighten me?

Thanks!

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My speculation is a combination of surface tension and static charging of the non-conductive coating and backing of the decals are the main parameters behind the observed behaviors. 
It would be interesting so find out what happens if a drop of alcohol (changes the surface tension) were added placed on the clusters of decals or if the water were dosed with salt (increases the conductivity of the liquid phase).
LT
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Mariko Paterson recommends that if you have a lot of decals to apply, instead of soaking them in a bowl of water and just having them all floating there, get them wet first in a bowl of water, but keep them on a wet piece of foam so they don't all separate from the backings, and stick to each other. 

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