You are on page 1of 3

Capacitors

...................................................................................................................................

A capacitor is an electrical device that can store energy in the electric field between a
pair of closely spaced conductors (called 'plates'). When current is applied to the
capacitor, electric charges of equal magnitude, but opposite polarity, build up on each
plate.
Capacitors are used in electrical circuits as energy-storage devices. They can also be
used to differentiate between high-frequency and low-frequency signals and this
makes them useful in electronic filters.
Capacitors are occasionally referred to as condensers. This is now considered an

antiquated term.
The capacitor's capacitance (C) is a measure of the amount of charge (Q) stored on
each plate for a given potential difference or voltage (V) which appears between the
plates:

C=Q/V
In SI units, a capacitor has a capacitance of one farad when one coulomb of charge
is stored due to one volt applied potential difference across the plates. Since the
farad is a very large unit, values of capacitors are usually expressed in microfarads
(µF), nanofarads (nF), or picofarads (pF).
The capacitance is proportional to the surface area of the conducting plate and
inversely proportional to the distance between the plates. It is also proportional to
the permittivity of the dielectric (that is, non-conducting) substance that separates
the plates.

The insulating envelope is usually glass or ceramic. Tend to lose capacity in low temperatures. and for high quality capacitors polysulfone). Now obsolete. Special types with low equivalent series resistance are available. gradual loss of capacity especially when subjected to heat. Depending on their dielectric. and high leakage. and their capacity changes with aging. Aluminum electrolytic: Polarized. whether Class 1 or Class 2. They can achieve high capacities but suffer from poor tolerances. are most often made of aluminium or silver-plated brass. Expensive. Constructionally similar to metal film. Stable temperature coefficient in a wide range of temperatures. and are suitable for timer circuits.Capacitor types Listed by di-electric material.10 1000 pF and high voltage. Vacuum : Two metal. allowing any tuned circuit to cover a full decade of frequency. and metal foil or a layer of metal deposited on surface. high instability. However they find massive use in common low-precision coupling and filtering applications. usually copper. Vacuum is the most perfect of dielectrics with a zero loss tangent. Glass: Used for high voltages. up to tens of kilovolts. . They have good quality and stability. Paper: Used for relatively high voltages. polystyrene. polyester (Mylar). electrodes are separated by a vacuum. Suitable for high frequencies. The dielectric is soaked with liquid electrolyte. Suitable for high frequencies. Both fixed and variable types are available. they are most often used in radio transmitters and other high voltage power devices. Air : Air dielectric capacitors consist of metal plates separated by an air gap. Often high voltage. of which there may be many interleaved. Mica: Similar to metal film. Excellent tolerance. The metal plates. but the electrodes are made of etched aluminium to acquire much larger surfaces. Metallized plastic film: Made from high quality polymer film (usually polycarbonate. Typically of low capacitance . Variable vacuum capacitors can have a minimum to maximum capacitance ratio of up to 100. Suitable for high frequencies. polypropylene. their degree of temperature/capacity dependence varies. Nearly all air dielectric capacitors are variable and are used in radio tuning circuits. They often have (especially the class 2) high dissipation factor. Ceramic: Chips of alternating layers of metal and ceramic. high frequency coefficient of dissipation. their capacity depends on applied voltage. Bad frequency characteristics make them unsuited for high-frequency applications. Expensive. This allows very high powers to be transmitted without significant loss and consequent heating.

Small changes in capacitance (20 percent or less) are obtained by twisting and untwisting the two wires. carbon nanotubes. or highly porous electrode materials.Tantalum electrolytic: Similar to the aluminum electrolytic capacitor but with better frequency and temperature characteristics. varicap capacitors are specialized. Has much better performance in low temperatures. Extremely high capacity. Each wire forms a capacitor plate. Used in phase-locked loops. OSCON (or OS-CON) capacitors are a polymerized organic semiconductor solidelectrolyte type that offer longer life at higher cost than standard electrolytics. . High dielectric absorption. amongst other applications. Can be used in some applications instead of rechargeable batteries. Gimmick capacitors are also a form of variable capacitor. varactor is actually a specialized reverse-biased diode used as a variable capacitor according to the voltage level applied. Gimmick capacitors are capacitors made from two insulated wires that have been twisted together. Supercapacitors: Made from carbon aerogel. reverse-biased diodes whose capacitance varies with voltage. High leakage.