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I'm studying electromagnetism and optics in first year and solving a lot of problems involving conveniently symmetrical conducting and non-conducting bodies having various uniformly distributed charges and I can't help wondering: Is there in fact a natural circumstance where a non-conducting body would acquire a uniform electric charge throughout it's volume? How might that come about?

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An electret is a insulating material that has been imbued with a semipermanent volume charge distribution by bombarding it with charged particles. I don't know how uniform the charge distribution generally is, but if it were desireable, I'm sure a clever engineer could arrange for an approximately constant volume charge distribution.

Beams of charged particles in particle accelerators are probably more Gaussian than uniform in charge distribution, but they do represent volumes with continuous charge density.

Although such systems are somewhat rare, they are very useful for learning the basic techniques which can be applied or generalized to analyze more complicated, realistic scenarios (as I suspect you are aware).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I have heard of an electret, in the context of an electret microphone, but had not made the connection. That's cool. $\endgroup$
    – Campground
    May 29, 2015 at 21:33

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