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Dielectrics and Electrostatics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. 

Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.  

About the group

As a special interest, member-driven group, we are interested in the complete spectrum of electrodynamics and electrostatic phenomena at the heart of physics.

There are well-defined subjects and ill-defined areas of research and technology because dielectrics and electrostatics are multi-disciplinary.

Our membership is drawn from:

  • industrial companies
  • universities
  • research associations

Our members in the physics community are involved in creating national and international standards.

What the group does


Electrostatics is an important group of physical phenomena, influencing the behaviour of nature on large and small scales. Examples range from atmospheric electricity, through a balloon sticking to your ceiling, and all the way down to:

  • microelectromechanical systems (MEMs)
  • biological interactions
  • interactions of molecules

Electrostatics also has wide technological importance with processes like:

  • electrostatic liquid and powder spraying
  • pollution control with electrostatic precipitators
  • electro-reprography

Electrostatics is everywhere, from a macro scale in the atmosphere to the nanoscale in the interactions between molecules and atoms. It involves all aspects of static electricity and these include:

  • generation
  • storage
  • dissipation
  • measurement
  • uses
  • hazards

Insulating materials

There is also a widening awareness of 'static' problems, because of the diversification of the use of insulating polymeric materials and extensive manufacture of electrically delicate electronic components like field-effect transistors and integrated circuits.


Dielectrics are often thought of crudely as non-conductors or ‘insulators’. A more precise definition is given by Arthur von Hippel:

“Dielectrics are not a narrow class of so-called insulators, but the broad expanse of nonmetals considered from the standpoint of their interaction with electric, magnetic, of electromagnetic fields.”

International development

We focus on international development and dissemination of dielectrics research, and application, measurement and interpretation in a wide range of non-metallic solids, liquids and gases.

Many of our members are interested in electrical breakdown phenomena and the effects of high field electrical stress on the dielectric properties of materials.

We are also look at the storage and dissipation of electric and magnetic energy. Polarisation and the dynamics of electric charges are at the heart of dielectrics.

Joining an IOP special interest group

For non-IOP members: Become a member now

For IOP members: Find out how to join a group

Group prizes

Our prizes reflect the complementary interests of our members in academia and industry.

We invite nominations from:

  • the physicist
  • a supervisor
  • a member of the group

Mansel Davies Award

The Mansel Davies Award is for outstanding contributions to dielectrics by early career researchers.

Find out more about the Mansel Davies Award.

John Chubb Award

The John Chubb Award is for outstanding contributions to experimental electrostatics by early career researchers.

Find out more about the John Chubb Award.

Group events 

We run the International Conference on Electrostatics every four years. We also have several one-day conferences and meetings, and major conferences. 

We organise meetings with other IOP groups that include the:

  • Biological Physics Group
  • Environmental Physics Group
  • Ion and Plasma Surface Interactions Group
  • Polymer Physics Group

Find events for the Dielectrics and Electrostatics Group


Committee and contacts

ChairDr Nadarajah Manivannan, MInstP
SecretaryDr Mina Mortazavi, MInstP
TreasurerDr Carl Brown, CPhys MInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Keith Butler, MInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Ho-Kei Chan, MInstP
Ordinary MemberProfessor John Fothergill, CPhys FInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Paul Holdstock, CPhys MInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Paul Ben Ishai