What is Capacitor: Definition and 1000 Discussions

A capacitor is a device that stores electrical energy in an electric field. It is a passive electronic component with two terminals.
The effect of a capacitor is known as capacitance. While some capacitance exists between any two electrical conductors in proximity in a circuit, a capacitor is a component designed to add capacitance to a circuit. The capacitor was originally known as a condenser or condensator. This name and its cognates are still widely used in many languages, but rarely in English, one notable exception being condenser microphones, also called capacitor microphones.
The physical form and construction of practical capacitors vary widely and many types of capacitor are in common use. Most capacitors contain at least two electrical conductors often in the form of metallic plates or surfaces separated by a dielectric medium. A conductor may be a foil, thin film, sintered bead of metal, or an electrolyte. The nonconducting dielectric acts to increase the capacitor's charge capacity. Materials commonly used as dielectrics include glass, ceramic, plastic film, paper, mica, air, and oxide layers. Capacitors are widely used as parts of electrical circuits in many common electrical devices. Unlike a resistor, an ideal capacitor does not dissipate energy, although real-life capacitors do dissipate a small amount (see Non-ideal behavior). When an electric potential (a voltage) is applied across the terminals of a capacitor, for example when a capacitor is connected across a battery, an electric field develops across the dielectric, causing a net positive charge to collect on one plate and net negative charge to collect on the other plate. No current actually flows through the dielectric. However, there is a flow of charge through the source circuit. If the condition is maintained sufficiently long, the current through the source circuit ceases. If a time-varying voltage is applied across the leads of the capacitor, the source experiences an ongoing current due to the charging and discharging cycles of the capacitor.
The earliest forms of capacitors were created in the 1740s, when European experimenters discovered that electric charge could be stored in water-filled glass jars that came to be known as Leyden jars. Today, capacitors are widely used in electronic circuits for blocking direct current while allowing alternating current to pass. In analog filter networks, they smooth the output of power supplies. In resonant circuits they tune radios to particular frequencies. In electric power transmission systems, they stabilize voltage and power flow. The property of energy storage in capacitors was exploited as dynamic memory in early digital computers, and still is in modern DRAM.

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  1. A

    Calculations involving different Dielectrics and Capacitors

    TL;DR Summary: Need dielectric constant for given capacitor Given a 7.4 pF air-filled capacitor, you are asked to convert it to a capacitor that can store up to 7.4 mJ with a maximum potential difference of 652 V. Which dielectric in Table 25-1 should you use to fill the gap in the capacitor...
  2. Simobartz

    Positioning of Capacitance in Ionization Chamber's Equivalent Circuit

    I'm delving into the topic of ionization chambers, but as someone without a background in electrical engineering, I'm finding the equivalent circuits a bit challenging to comprehend. Specifically, I'm puzzled by the placement of the chamber's capacitance and any parallel capacitance in the...
  3. S

    Calculating low frequency cutoff for this R-C microphone circuit

    I want to ask about question (c). My idea is to compare the period and time constant. The period is 0.05 s and time constant is 0.005 s. Time constant is the time needed for capacitor to discharge until the charge stored in it becomes 37% of initial charge. But I don't know how to relate the...
  4. PhysicsTest

    Capacitor equation to be used in electrical analysis

    I am confused with the equation to be used for capacitor in electrical analysis The standard equation we have is Q=CV -> 1 the other equation is is V = Z*I ohms law Z is the impedance of the capacitor. Both are giving me voltage, which one to use ?
  5. PhysicsTest

    Phase Delay in the Circuit

    I simulated the below circuit to capture the phase delay between input voltage and output current in LTSpice How do i measure the phase delay introduced due to capacitor?
  6. Bruce Ratcliffe

    My variable speed drill switches turn into ON/OFF switches :-(

    My students build "eCars" that use wheelchair motors and two 12 volt AGM lead acid batteries in series. A pair of Bosch 25Amp, 24 VDC, drill switches control power to each wheel. Tons of fun (see here): The switches last in some cases for years, but quite a few have burned out the "variable"...
  7. K

    I How do we know that both plates of a capacitor have the same charge?

    Suppose we have two conductors ( can be of different shapes) and connect them to battery. Why would equal amounts of charge appear on the two conductors?
  8. L

    Unknown circuit in a black box

    Hi, I am not sure if I have calculated the task correctly I have now assumed that the capacitor does not need to be charged and is therefore fully charged. In a DC circuit, a capacitor acts like an infinitely large resistor or like an open switch, so I assumed that it is a parallel circuit...
  9. Edy56

    Engineering Calculate time for capacitor to charge and discharge

    I really don't get this one. Why do I need V? Since I didn't use it, I assume my work Is incorrect.
  10. T

    I Why is a Dielectric slab ejected from the capacitor when energized?

    A capacitor consisting of 2 square metal plates placed at a certain distance is connected to a potential difference generator V. A slab of dielectric material is inserted into the space between the armatures. By doing the calculation of the derivative of the electrostatic energy with respect...
  11. PhysicsRock

    Why Capacitors in Parallels vs. Series: Coaxial Capacitor Case

    So my idea was to separate the capacitor into two individual ones, one of length ##l - a## filled with a vacuum and one of length ##a## filled with the glass tube. The capacitances then are $$ C_0 = \frac{2 \pi \varepsilon_0 (l-a)}{\displaystyle \ln\left( \frac{r_2}{r_1} \right)} $$ for the...
  12. PhysicsRock

    Capacitor 1/3 filled with a dielectric

    My attempt would be to calculate the electric fields of the vacuum and dielectric part seperately and then use superpositioning to obtain the full solution. However, I don't see an ##x##-dependency coming along that path. The assignment suggests that there must be one though. Unfortunately, this...
  13. V

    Potential difference between 2 points in a capacitor circuit

    In the given circuit, a transient current will flow and when this current finally stops at equilibrium, the charges ##q_1## and ##q_2## are assumed to deposit at the capacitor plates as shown below. The dashed line indicates an isolated system that will have it's total charge conserved. If I...
  14. L

    Discharging a capacitor -- Calculate the current as a function of time

    Hi, I am not sure if I have calculated the task b correctly. I always interpret an open switch as an infinitely large resistor, which is why no current is flowing through this "resistor". So there is no current in the red circle, as it was the case in task part a, but only in the blue circle...
  15. V

    Polarities of capacitor plates in a complex circuit

    (a) I think the top plate of C5 could end up with either + or - charge, and not necessarily + charge as shown. This is because the connected plates of C1, C5 and C3 form an isolated system to which we can apply the law of conservation of charge i.e. Total charge just before transient currents...
  16. milkism

    Non-linear isotropic dielectric capacitor

    Question: Solution first part: Have I done it right? I don't know how to begin with second part since the dielectric is non-lineair, and most formulas like $$ D=\epsilon E$$ and $$P= \epsilon_0 \xhi_e E$$, only apply for lineair dielectrics. What to do?
  17. A

    Engineering Derive the governing equation for the voltage Vc across the capacitor

    I was thinking about doing KVL around the circuit at the right but I noticed when the switch opens, the current through the circuit at the right is not the same throughout -5 + Ic*2*1-^3 + Ic*10^3 = -Vc Ic is not the same around the right circuit so I am stuck....
  18. I

    Need a voltage divider for a capacitor source voltage

    The end goal is I need to convert a sinusoidal into a square wave using a zero crossing circuit. I have a voltage that ranges from 0 to 400vrms @70kHz from a capacitor that is part of an induction heater tank circuit. My comparator has a peak differential input of +/- 35v so I need to reduce the...
  19. ananonanunes

    Finding Current in Resistors & Charge of Capacitor

    Suppose the switch has been closed for a long time so that the capacitor is fully charged and current is constant. a)Find the current in each resistor and charge Q of the capacitor. b)The switch is now opened at t=0s. Write the equation for the current for the resistor of 15kΩ as a function of...
  20. K

    Calculating electric charge from graph (capacitor)

    Apparently, we need to integrate the functions from 0 to the time when it is fully charged. However, I integrated in terms of t so the soultion (according to a graph programme) should be around 236 Vs but I don’t see how this could help me.
  21. A

    Engineering Short vs Open Circuit: Is That Correct?

    For the first circuit, Req = ZL + ZC = -j/(w*C) + j*w*L = 0 for short circuit, so w = 0? For the open circuit case, -j/(w*C) + j*w*L = infinity, so w = infinity? Is that correct?
  22. Idontknowhatimdoing

    Electric Field Inside Cylindrical Capacitor

    we know that flux is equal to the area integral of electric field dotted with dA and we can set this equal to charge enclosed divided by epsilon naught. Thus, in this case, the integral simplifies to E * A = (q_enclosed)/(ε_naught) when we choose a cylindrical gaussian surface with radius of r...
  23. A

    Energy conservation law question with capacitor

    I was wondering why energy of capacitor does not equal change in kinetic energy PLUS change in potential energy where potential energy is the change in the potential energy of the charges. I believe that should be so because energy conservation = change in kinetic energy plus change in potential...
  24. S

    Change in energy stored in a spherical Capacitor

    I have attached my solution. Unfortunately, after plugging in the values, my answer is 4 times more than the expected one. What am I missing?
  25. C

    Finding charge on a capacitor given potential difference across two points

    For this part(b) of this problem, The solution is However, I tried solving (b) like this: Since ##Q_{total} = 363 \times 10^{-6} C## then ##Q_1 = 181.5 \times 10^{-6} C ## since the equivalent upper capacitor is in series with the equivalent bottom capacitor so should store the same amount...
  26. Pushoam

    Charge upon a parallel plate capacitor

    a) if I take a Gaussian cylindrical surface whose circular area are present in the meat of the two plates of the capacitor, then the electric flux through this Gaussian surface is zero ( as the electric field inside the meatof the capacitor is zero and between the capacitors, electric field is...
  27. Pushoam

    Capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor with a metal plate kept inside

    Because of the plate P, the capacitor becomes a piece of conductor. It contains zero net charge and has 0 potential difference. Hence, the capacitance is ## \frac 0 0 # # that is undefined. The capacitance of a capacitor is defined as its capacity to store charge when a potential difference is...
  28. Pushoam

    Force between the plates of a capacitor with dielectric slab inserted

    The the electric field inside decreases due to the presence of a dielectric by a factor of dielectric constant K. Hence the force between the plates will decrease. Is this right?
  29. C

    Derivation for capacitance of cylindrical capacitor

    I don't understand how they got from the previous step to the next step of the derivation circled in red: Many thanks!
  30. sol47739

    Am vs Fm variable capacitor receiver, what is the difference?

    What is the difference between a variable capacitor in a AM receiver and a variable capacitor in a FM receiver? I understand that Am is amplitude modulation and that the signal is carried over a changing amplitude and that the frequency is constant. And the opposite in FM signals. And a variable...
  31. supak111

    Calculate current in a 120 VAC circuit with a series 10uF capacitor

    Hi can someone tell me please how much current is passed though below circuit: 120 AC 60Hz mains power going through a 10uF 500v capacitor in series
  32. G

    Capacitor circuit analysis

    Figure: My attempt at a solution: Once the capacitors have been applied, we see directly that ##\boxed{v_c=v_0=0\, \textrm{V}}## Wouldn't this one be done like this? I know the following: in a circuit with capacitors and coils, if we have Capacitor: we change for an open circuit. Coil: we...
  33. Shreya

    Capacitor Network - Series or Parallel?

    My textbook solution states that 1 & 2 are in parallel and so is 3 & 4 and those 2 are in series. That is, (1 P 2) S (3 P 4). My thinking is such: points A & B are of same potential, say V, C & D are of same potential, say x and E & F are are of same potential, say 0. So I can say that 1 and 3...
  34. A

    Choosing a pulse capacitor, ESR vs reactance at frequency

    While going through the catalogues I started to wonder, typically lower ESR caps cost more, but if I need the cap for DC smoothing , to filter out unwanted AC ripple, then I put that cap across my DC rails +-. Now so far so good. It's ability to filter out the AC ripple will be directly related...
  35. L

    Maximum charge on the plates of a capacitor

    What I have done: The electromotive force due to Faraday's Law is: ##\mathcal{E}=-\frac{d\phi(\vec{B})}{dt}=\frac{d}{dt}(Ba^2)=a^2\frac{dB}{dt}=-10^{-4}V.## In the circuit, going around the loop in a clockwise fashion: ##\oint_{\Gamma}\vec{E}\cdot d\vec{l}=-\frac{d\phi(\vec{B})}{dt}\Rightarrow...
  36. A

    Choosing pulse capacitor for parasitic AC ripple suppresion

    So long story short I have a power supply (DIY) for some time and on the secondary side filter/reservoir capacitors there is a small ripple (about 1v PP) of 50khz (the switching frequency of the PSU). Aside from others methods that I will implement to reduce this I am thinking of adding a shunt...
  37. thovarua

    MOS Capacitor under very large positive or negative bias conditions

    In MOSCAP, why does the band stop bending as soon as the Si Fermi level touches either the conduction band (inversion) or the valance band (accumulation)?
  38. S

    Oblique slab dieletric material in a capacitor

    With reference to picture, l have an oblique slab of material dieletric in a capacitor. The plates of capacitor are infinite and far. How can calculate E and D in dieletric?
  39. C

    Asking some Capacitor questions to help my understanding

    I have watched a number of tutorials on how a capacitor works and I'm still confused about a couple things. Suppose we have a battery who's terminals are connected to the battery. It make sense to me that negative electrons accumulate on one side of the dialectric, because they're attracted to...
  40. K

    The behaviour of an uncharged dielectric particle in a capacitor

    I understand that the particle will be polarised according to its dielectric constant and the electric field across the capacitor. However, since it is similar to an insulator and electrons do not move in and out of the particle easily, the particle will not be charged. How then will...
  41. A

    I Calculating Total Electric Charge with a Capacitor and Battery

    With a capacitor with a dielectric with the battery on, ##E_{total} = E_0 + E_i## ##\frac{Q_t}{dC_t} = \frac{Q_0}{dC_0} + \frac{Q_i}{dC_i}## thus, ##\frac{Q_t}{C_t} = \frac{Q_0}{C_0} + \frac{Q_i}{C_i}## since in a battery ##V_t = V_0, V_i = 0##, so either ##Q_i = 0## or ##C_i = infinite## but...
  42. V

    B How is capacitor energy the same as electrostatic potential energy?

    The energy stored in a capacitor is derived by integrated the work needed to move charge dQ from one plate to another. I'm confused on how this energy is the same as electrostatic potential energy, the energy needed to assemble this configuration from infinity. In the case of capacitor energy...
  43. guyvsdcsniper

    Method of Images for a single point charge in a capacitor

    Disclaimer: This is not a repost. The problem wants me to calculate the force of a p.c. , that is isolated by itself (this p.c. is the only charge this problem starts with in this problem) inside a capacitor, a distance h/4 from the bottom plate. This is what I have though of so far but I...
  44. guyvsdcsniper

    Method of images between parallel plate capacitor

    Before I can find the force on q I must balance the charges. This problem starts of with -q and q inside the capacitor. I have added image charges on the opposite side of each plate. Would this work?
  45. LarryS

    What represents the charge on a capacitor?

    Consider a simple DC circuit containing a 9V battery, a switch, a 10 kΩ resister and a 100 μF capacitor all in series. When the switch is thrown, it will take basically 5 seconds for the capacitor to reach full charge. Based on what I have read online, the charge on the above capacitor is...
  46. S

    Finding potential at a point in capacitor

    I tried solving the part (a), and got I =1.82 A for the current value using Kirchoff's law. Next, I want to use Ohm's law to calculate the voltage at point a. Va = IR In this equation, will resistance R correspond to 4.4Ω or 8.8Ω? How do you determine which resistance to use when solving this...
  47. Shreya

    Maxwell's Capacitor argument for a time independent Current

    Is it because the current applied to a capacitor will never be time independent? Please help me out🙏
  48. S

    Minimizing the voltage drop across a capacitor (solution shown)

    The following is the question and the solution to the question. I understand the solution to the part where you find the Ceq and derive Qeq from the equation Q = Ceq*V. However, I do not understand where V1 = V0-V2 come from. When calculating the minimum voltage, how do you come up with the...
  49. L

    A disconnected capacitor with two dielectrics in parallel

    I considered the capacitor as two capacitors in parallel, so the total capacitance is ##C=C_1+C_2=\frac{\varepsilon_0\varepsilon_1 (A/2)}{d}+\frac{\varepsilon_0\varepsilon_2 (A/2)}{d}=\frac{\varepsilon_0 A}{2d}(\varepsilon_1+\varepsilon_2).## Since the parallel component of the electric field...
  50. miyelmunshi

    Engineering RC circuit where source depends on capacitor current

    I did a kvl loop and got V + 5Io - 15 Io = 0 So, V = 10Io Then, substituted dq/dt for Io and q/c for V I get to dq/dt - 50000q = 0 solving this equation i get q = C x e^50000q (c for constant) my Io = dq/dt so Io now is 50,000Ce^50000q now my Q(0) is 3 x 10^-5 So my Io (0) should be...