consist of two longstrips of metal foil separated by long stripsof dielectric, and rolled up. The
has a very thin layerof aluminium oxide as the dielectricbetween two strips of aluminium foil, givinglarge capacitance. It is polarized (it has +and – terminals and these must beconnected to the + and – of the voltagesupply).
Charging and discharging a capacitor
A capacitor can be charged by connecting abattery across it. During the charging, thereis a brief flow of electrons that would bedetected by a sensitive ammeter. Chargingstops when the charges on both plates of the capacitor are equal; the electron flow isthe zero.
When a conductor is connected across acharged capacitor, there is a brief flow of electrons from – plate to the + one. Thecharge stored falls to zero, as does thevoltage across it.
As the capacitor charges, the potentialdifference across its plates increases.Initially R1 gets a large share of the supplyPD but this share decreases as thecapacitor charges. When the PD across R1is low enough, the base current switches off the collector-emitter current. Initially thebulb lights. After a time delay, whichdepends on the size of the capacitor andthe resistance in the circuit, the bulb goesout.
Effect of capacitors ind.c. and a.c. circuits
The capacitor blocks d.c. (i.e. it acts like anopen switch).
The capacitor passes a.c. In fact, no currentpasses through the capacitor since itsplates are separated by an insulator. But asthe a.c. reverses direction, the capacitorcharges and discharges causing electronsto flow back and forth rapidly in the wires joining the plates. Thus effectively a.c.flows round the circuit.
Electricity in thehome
Electricity usually comes into our homes byan underground cable containing two wires,the
(L) and the
(N). Theneutral is earthed at the local substationand so there is no p.d. between it and theearth. The supply is a.c. and the live wire isalternately positive and negative.
a)Circuits in parallel
Every circuit is connected in parallel withthe supply, i.e. across the live and neutral,and receives the full mains p.d. (230V inthe UK).
b)Switches and fuses