Double origin of stochastic granular tribocharging
The mechanisms underlying triboelectric charging have a stochastic nature. We investigate how this randomness affects the distributions of charges generated on granular particles during either a single or many collisions. The charge distributions we find in our experiments are more heavy-tailed than normal distributions with an exponential decay of the probability, they are asymmetric, and exhibit charges of both signs. Moreover, we find a linear correlation between the width and mean of these distributions. We rationalize these findings with a model for triboelectric charging which combines stochastic charge separation during contact and stochastic charge recombination after separation of the surfaces. Our results further imply that subsequent charging events are not statistically independent.