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A capacitor is an electrical/electronic device

that can store energy in the electric field
between a pair of conductors (called "plates").
The process of storing energy in the capacitor
is known as "charging", and involves electric
charges of equal magnitude, but opposite
polarity, building up on each plate.
Capacitors are often used in electric and
electronic circuits as energy-storage devices.
They can also be used to differentiate between
high-frequency and low-frequency signals. This
property makes them useful in electronic

A capacitor consists of two conductive

electrodes, or plates, separated by a dielectric,
which prevents charge from moving directly
between the plates. Charge may however be
moved indirectly by external influences, such
as a battery connecting the terminals. After
removing the external influences, the charge
on the plates persists. The separated charges
attract each other, and an electric field is
present between the plates. The simplest
practical capacitor consists of two wide, flat,
parallel plates separated by a thin dielectric

Practical capacitors are available commercially
in many different forms. The type of internal
dielectric, the structure of the plates and the
device packaging all strongly affect the
characteristics of the capacitor, and its

Dielectric materials
Most types of capacitor include a dielectric
spacer, which increases their capacitance.
However, low capacitance devices are available
with a vacuum between their plates, which
allows extremely high voltage operation and
low losses. Air filled variable capacitors are
also commonly used in radio tuning circuits.
Several solid dielectrics are available, including
paper, plastic, glass, mica and ceramic
materials. Electrolytic capacitors use an
aluminum or tantalum plate with an oxide
dielectric layer. The second electrode is a liquid
electrolyte. Electrolytic capacitors offer very
high capacitance but suffer from poor
tolerances, high instability, gradual loss of
capacitance especially when subjected to heat,
and high leakage current. The conductivity of
the electrolyte drops at low temperatures,
which increases equivalent series resistance.

Capacitor symbols
Polarized Variable
capacitors capacitor
Energy storage

Power conditioning

Power factor correction


Signal coupling


Noise filters, motor starters, and snubbers

Signal processing

Tuned circuits
Other applications


Pulsed power and weapons