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Would it be possible to electrically charge a water droplet (~1mm of diameter) using an ionising radiation source?

I need to accelerate a water-drop to its critical speed and I was thinking about using an electrical field in the same way as in the Millikan's oil drop experiment. I only managed to find papers about water clusters but I don't know if it's because it's a more interesting topic or if there is a limitation size.

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Water is a highly polar compound and thus has high cohesive forces. Managing to charge the droplets should be possible, but will require really high energy beams to break some of the bonds. This would be practical too, since due to high cohesive forces, water will tightly hold on to other molecules and when charged, it would have repelled other such droplets. Limitations on the size will be there due to the cohesiveness which will always tend to make it coalesce into a single large droplet. But, provided charge at the initial stage of separating into droplets (maybe when water droplets are coming out of the "sieve" ) the charge on the droplet would resist forming a coalesced droplet. Ionising water as a bulk droplet could also work since the net charge in a bigger droplet will have higher potential energy than of individual smaller drops. So either ways, it is feasible.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! I might be wrong but to me the alpha radiations interact with the electrons within the atoms so I don't understand why it should have any link with intermolecular forces such as polar forces (that are also globally disordered). Moreover I found out that when x-rays are used in the Millikan experiment it seems to be used only to ionize the gas molecules in the apparatus so I might be looking at the wrong place. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2016 at 20:12

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