Millikan’s oil drop experiment

On Monday, we discussed Millikan’s famous experiment to determine the charge on an electron.  Some of the slides I used during the lesson were taken from a site created by Joe Rowing, who teaches physics in Brighton. You can download the full powerpoint file and handout sheets here.


We performed a small experiment to show how Millikan was able to calculate the charge due to a single electron.  Balloons filled with different numbers of beads replaced the charged oil drops and allowed us to simulate Millikan’s method using an electronic balance.  The mass of a single bead at 0.22g – congratulations to those of you who were able to reach this value!

If you look at the slides on the site I linked to above, you will find a description of the experiment I based this on.  Mr Rowing used sweets instead of beads.

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