Effect of Relative Humidity and Materials on Triboelectric Charging of USB Cables


A USB cable can be triboelectrically charged by rubbing it against a piece of clothing, such as a sweater. If a charged cable is inserted into a connector, an ESD event can upset or damage attached equipment. To investigate charge levels and estimate the resulting voltages on a USB cable, a set of experiments has been performed in a climate chamber under five different environmental conditions. These experiments were conducted by rubbing 44 different cables against sweaters made of 100% cotton, 100% polyester, 50% wool/50% nylon, and 50% wool/50% acrylic. The resulting charge levels often reflected the material pairing, as expected from the triboelectric series. The maximum charge level reached -141 nC, or -7 kV, assuming a capacitance of 20 pF between the cable and ground.

Meeting Name

2017 IEEE International Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility & Signal/Power Integrity (2017: Aug. 7-11, Washington, DC)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Capacitance; Electric Discharges; Electromagnetic Compatibility; Electrostatic Devices; Electrostatic Discharge (ESD); Electrostatics; Temperature; Triboelectricity; Wool; Yarn; Climate Chambers; Electrostatic Charges; Environmental Conditions; Tribo-electric Series; Triboelectric Charging; USB Cables; Cables; Relative Humidity (RH)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

978-1-5386-2231-5; 978-1-5386-2229-2

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2017 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2017