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Charging of a cpacitor

  1. Jul 22, 2007 #1
    given an arbitrary circuit when can u say that a given capacitor of course in the circuit has been fully charged
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2007 #2


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    Depends on what you mean by arbitrary.

    In a simple DC RC circuit, the capacitor will be approx. 99% charged at 5 time constants. Where the time constant in the product of the total resistance of the RC circuit and the capacitance.

    Did you have something specific in mind?
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2007
  4. Jul 22, 2007 #3
    charging a capacitor

    In a DC circuit it will be charged if no current flows in the circuit.
    In an AC circuit the energy stored in the capacitor is a function of time.
    Are there more questions?
  5. Jul 23, 2007 #4
    i want something more specific for a DC circuit as to what decides what the cahrge on the capacitor shoud be. i would like an answer in terms of field concept rather than potential
  6. Jul 23, 2007 #5
    charging the capacitor

    Consider that your capacitor is a plane one. Its capacity is C=[tex]\epsilon[/tex](0)S/d ,S representing the surface of its pates and d the distance between them. If the potential difference between the plates is V, the electric field between the plates is E=V/d. The energy stored in the electric field is
    W=CV^2/2 and so you can express it as a function of the electric field.
    The electric charge on one of the plates is q=CV=CE/d. I think you have now all the elements to answer all your questions.
    If[tex]\Phi[/tex] represents the electromotive force of the source in the direct cc circuit you will find out that the charging process has ended when the electric field between the plates is E=[tex]\Phi[/tex]/d.
    I hope I have guessed the correct names of the used physical quantities.
    If you have more questions...
  7. Jul 23, 2007 #6
    yes thsi was what i thought (with a slight variation) ...until thsi accorsing to this the charge on a capacitor directly connected to battery of given emf is independent of how it is connected to other circuit elemnts.

    but this of course is false.
    just consider thsi example u have two capacitances of C connected in series the charge on each of them is [tex]\frac{CV}{2}[/tex] but when they are connected individually the charges are [tex]CV[/tex]
  8. Jul 23, 2007 #7
    The capacitor will be "charged" when the *net* electric field everywhere inside the circuit is zero.
  9. Jul 23, 2007 #8
    i don't think so.even when the charging is taking place it passes through a series of 'equilibrium states'
    otherwise consider this case of a simple 1 capacitor being charged which is say connected to one resistor which may be the net resistance of wire itself
    any standard book would give a proof like this

    [tex]\frac{q}{C}+\frac{dq}{dt}R - E=0[/tex]
    well this done by assuming the potential at the positive terminal of battery is same as that of that in the positive terminal of capacitor which clearly holds only if there is no field 'inside' the wire.
  10. Jul 23, 2007 #9
    But they're not actually equilibrium states. It is actually a gradual progression through *steady states* not *equilibrium states*. The net electric field inside a conductor in which the charge carriers are all in static equilibrium is zero and thus there would be no current. If a current exists, the net electric field cannot possibly be zero and a *steady state* exists. In a *steady state*, a uniform current exists and that requires a uniform nonzero electric field. As the capacitor "charges" (and that is really not a good term for describing the process because all that is happening is existing charged particles in the conductor are redistributing themselves) the net electric field inside the circuit decreases in magnitude and thus the current decreases too. Eventually, the net field will be zero and so will the current.

    No differential equation is required to understand this. All that is needed is understanding electric fields and how particles respond to them.
  11. Jul 23, 2007 #10
    if thsi is so then how does the differential equation i wrote above(which is there i suppose in all the books) holds true
  12. Jul 23, 2007 #11
    The DE is merely a mathematical description of the physical system in terms of charge, resistance, potential difference, capacitance, and time. It is a description that gives answers against which we can compare measurements. The entire problem can be explained with nothing more than understanding the behavior of charged particles in the presence of an electric field. Similarly, resistance and capacitance are merely macroscopic terms that are redundant in that they include more fundamental microscopic paramaters that explain the behavior.

    Consult Matter & Interactions by Chabay and Sherwood if you want a more complete discussion. This is an innovative calculus-based introductory physics textbook that emphasizes micro/macro connections and completely explains all of DC circuit behavior with nothing more than the behavior of charged particles in the presence of an electric field. I've been teaching from this text since 1999.
  13. Jul 24, 2007 #12
    but without the net fiedl inside the circuit being 0 the above DE is meaningless
    also can u post an elink to the book if any
  14. Jul 24, 2007 #13
    i even don't get why opposite plates get equal charges .most books write that otherwise field will exist in the conducting wires.but this is so if the charge was uniformly distributed but here don't know(probably) how the charge distribute then how can we have such an argument
  15. Jul 24, 2007 #14
    The book is published by Wiley and it not available in a digital version. Try an interlibrary loan.

    I don't understand your comment about the DE. If a current exists, E cannot be zero.
  16. Jul 24, 2007 #15
    that's what i am telling if there is a field then the that diffrernetial equation doesn't hold good because it is true by assuming there is no field inside the conducting wires
  17. Jul 24, 2007 #16
    That DE is really nothing more than conservation of energy (per charge). It is true as written as far as I can tell. I don't understand why you say that the DE's validity has to do with E being zero inside the wire.
  18. Jul 24, 2007 #17
    Okay I see the error in your reasoning (finally). You're confusing the electric field between the plates with the electric field inside the wire, and they are NOT the same! The electric field between the plates can be non-zero while the *net* electric field *inside* the conducting wire is zero. It is the *net* field inside the wire that governs the "charging" (and we really need a better term for that) process. Does this make sense?

    Another possible source of confusion is using E to stand for electric field and E to stand for potential difference. In your DE, E is a potential difference and not an electric field.
  19. Jul 24, 2007 #18
    well can u derive the equation without assuming field in wire is not 0

    so upto what does the capacitor gets charged
  20. Jul 24, 2007 #19
    Yes. It's nothing more then energy conservation.
  21. Jul 24, 2007 #20
    well while deriving even by energy conservation i think u have to assume that the potential on one plate of capacitor is same as that of battery....which doesn't hold true when there is an field inside the wire

    but anyway my problem is that if why does a capacitor in any given circuit can get charged say only upto [tex]Q[/tex] not more or less.what governs the charge distribution. when does it stop charging....
    can u please explain them in field concept
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