It has been known for over a century that electrical signals are produced by material failure, for example during crack formation of crystals and glasses, or stick-slip motion of liquid mercury on glass. We describe here new experiments revealing that slip events in cohesive powders also produce electrical signals, and remarkably these signals can appear significantly in advance of slip events. We have confirmed this effect in two different experimental systems and using two common powdered materials, and in a third experiment we have demonstrated that similar voltage signals are produced by crack-like defects in several powdered materials.
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