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Kirchoff's Loop Rule as applied to Capacitors?

  1. Jan 19, 2008 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    How does the loop rule apply to capacitors? I can't find any examples of circuits containing capacitors and resistors where the loop rule is used. I know the loop rule measures potential differences, but I'm not quite sure if that has anything to do with capacitors? All the examples are 0 = V - IR - IR, etc.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2008 #2

    Tom Mattson

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    Yes, the loop rule is used with capacitors all the time. The element law for a capacitor is [itex]v=q/C[/itex]. In more advanced (calculus-based) courses this is written [itex]i=C\frac{dv}{dt}[/itex]. Solving this for the voltage, one obtains:

  4. Jan 19, 2008 #3
    all the basics of RC circuits (RL and RLC circuits too) come from a basic application of Kirchoff's Loop principle.
  5. Jan 20, 2008 #4
    So when finding currents, the branch that a capacitor is on (in terms of current) is 0, right? since when a capacitor is full, no current flows.
  6. Jan 20, 2008 #5
    not necessarily. it depends on the situation. Since charging rate = current, current=0 if and only if the charge of the capacitor is constant. This happens when the capacitor has been (dis)charging for a long time, or when the circuit reaches steady state.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2008
  7. Jan 20, 2008 #6
    the problem says that the currents reach equilibrium. isn't that steady state?
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