Capacitors with more than two plates?

• jerich1000
In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of capacitors having more than two plates and how it would affect their efficiency. It is also mentioned that multi-layered ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) use a stack of several plates to function. The conversation also briefly touches on the idea of variable plate capacitors and how mechanical engineers may have difficulty working with concepts like electrons.
jerich1000
I am a mechanical engineer and not an electrical engineer, so feel free to snicker at my question. Can a capacitor have more than two plates?

If so, what happens? Is it less efficient? How would a tripple- or quaduple-plate capacitor behave differently than a dual-plate capacitor, assuming one was even made?

Thanks

Neglecting the fact that there are very few actual plate capacitors, having multiple plates would be similar to putting capacitors in series (or parallel, depending on how the plates were arranged).

MATLABdude said:
Neglecting the fact that there are very few actual plate capacitors, having multiple plates would be similar to putting capacitors in series (or parallel, depending on how the plates were arranged).
What kind of capacitors don't have "plates"?

Aren't Multi-Layered Ceramic Capacitors (MLCCs) made by having a big stack of several plates and alternating whether they are hooked up to one side or the other?

Variable plate capacitors were very common back in the tube radio days for tuning in stations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_capacitor"

Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks. You people are awesome. Mechanical engineers get queasy when they're dealing with things they can't see with their eyes (such as electrons).

Jiggy-Ninja said:
What kind of capacitors don't have "plates"?

Aren't Multi-Layered Ceramic Capacitors (MLCCs) made by having a big stack of several plates and alternating whether they are hooked up to one side or the other?

Who said anything about not using plates? You just seldom see simple flat single-plate capacitors (disc capacitors being the exception). This made more sense before the morning coffee and with electrolytics on the mind (where the plates are all rolled up).

MATLABdude said:
This made more sense before the morning coffee and with electrolytics on the mind (where the plates are all rolled up).

1. What is the purpose of having more than two plates in a capacitor?

The purpose of having more than two plates in a capacitor is to increase its capacitance. The more plates there are, the more charge the capacitor can hold and the larger the capacitance value will be.

2. How does the capacitance of a capacitor with more than two plates compare to one with only two plates?

The capacitance of a capacitor with more than two plates is greater than that of a capacitor with only two plates. This is because the additional plates provide more surface area for the electric field to store charge.

3. Can a capacitor with more than two plates hold a larger charge than one with only two plates?

Yes, a capacitor with more than two plates can hold a larger charge than one with only two plates. This is because the additional plates provide more surfaces for the electric field to store charge on, resulting in a higher capacitance value.

4. Are there any limitations to the number of plates that can be added to a capacitor?

There are practical limitations to the number of plates that can be added to a capacitor. As the number of plates increases, the distance between them decreases, which can lead to a breakdown of the dielectric material between the plates. Additionally, the size and cost of the capacitor will also increase with the number of plates.

5. Are there any specific applications where capacitors with more than two plates are used?

Capacitors with more than two plates are commonly used in high voltage applications, such as power supplies and electronic devices. They are also used in audio equipment to smooth out voltage fluctuations and improve sound quality.

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