Below is a very short triboelectric series that provides an indication of the ordering of some common materials. The way to use a triboelectric series is to note the relative positions of the two materials of interest. The material that charges positive will be the one that is closer to the positive end of the series and the material closer to the negative end will charge negatively. Remember that it is the work function of the material that determines its position in the series. In general, materials with higher work function tend to appropriate electrons from materials with lower work functions.
+ POSITIVE END OF SERIES (materials with lower work function)
- NEGATIVE END OF SERIES (materials with higher work function)
There are several problems in using this or any such series. First, real materials are seldom very pure and often have surface finishes and/or contamination that strongly influence triboelectrification. Second, the spacing between materials on a triboseries does not allow us to predict with any confidence the magnitude of the charge separated. Many factors besides the difference in the electronic surface energy -- including surface finish, electrical conductivity, and mechanical properties -- strongly influence the results.