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6A Physics

Heights by great menand women ;) reached and kept were not obtained by
sudden flight but, while their companions slept, they were toiling upward in the

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Capacitors Worksheet

1. a) Define Capacitance.

b)Two capacitors C1 and C2 are connected in series and then

charged with a battery. The battery is disconnected and C 1
and C2 still in series, are discharged through an 80k
resistor. The time constant for the discharge is found to be
4.8s. Calculate

i) The capacitance of C1 and C2 in series [CT = 60F]

ii) The capacitance of C1 if C2 has a capacitance of 100F [C1

= 150F]

2. a) Explain what is meant by dielectric constant (relative


b) State two physical properties desirable in a material to be

used as the dielectric in a capacitor. [High permittivity, good
insulator, should completely fill the gap between the plates,
similar cross-sectional area as the capacitor]
c) A sheet of paper 40mm wide and 1.5 x 10-2m thick
between metal foil of the same width is used to make 2F
capacitor. If the dielectric constant (relative permittivity) of
the paper is 2.5, what is the length required? (given: 0=
8.85 x 10-12 Fm-1) [ l = 0.34m]

3. In an experiment to investigate the discharge of a capacitor

through a resistor, the circuit shown below was set up. The
battery had an e.m.f of 10V and negligible internal
resistance. The switch was first closed and the capacitor
allowed to charge fully. The switch was then opened (at
t=0s) and the graph shows how the milliammeter reading
subsequently changed with time.

a) Use the graph to estimate the initial charge on the capacitor.

Explain how you arrived at your answer. [between 90mC to
100mC; I used 92mF]

b) Use your answer to (a) to estimate the Capacitance of C. [ C

= 9.2mF]

c) Calculate the resistance R. [R = 5k]

4. What is the total energy stored by the three capacitors below

5. The capacitor (C) in the above circuit is first fully charged by

using a two-way switch K. The capacitor C is then discharged
through the resistor R. The graph shows how the current in
the resistor R changes with time.

Use the graph to help you answer the following questions:

a) The value of the resistance R. [R = 170k to 2s.f]

b) Estimate the initial charge stored and hence [Q0 =


c) Calculate the energy stored by the capacitor at the

beginning of the discharging process and [E = 9750J]

d) Its capacitance [C = 540F]

6. The flashlight circuit of a camera includes two 47000F

capacitors in parallel with each other. The capacitors are
charged using a 4.5V battery. A flash of light is emitted from
the flashbulb when the charged capacitors are connected
across the flashbulb

a) Calculate the energy stored in the capacitor when the p.d

across its terminals is 4.5V. [E = 0.95J]

b) The duration of the discharge is approximately 50ms.

Estimate the power of the flashlight, stating any
assumptions made in your estimate. [P = 19W]

c) Explain why less energy would be stored in the capacitors

if they were in series with each other

7. A capacitor circuit consists of 4 identical 10mF capacitors

connected in parallel to a 12V voltage supply unit.

a) Calculate the total charge and energy stored [Q = 480mC

or 0.48C; E = 2880mJ or 2.88J ]

b) The circuit is used as a back-up supply in a data capture

device in case the p.d. from the voltage supply unit is
interrupted. The device switches off if the voltage supplied
to it falls below 10V. In normal operation, the voltage
supply unit supplies a current of 80mA at 12V.

i) Show that the circuit resistance in normal

operation is approximately 150. [use Ohms

ii) If the voltage supply unit is switched off,

estimate how much longer the device would
continue to operate for. [ t = 1.09s]

8. A charged capacitor of capacitance 50 F is connected

across the terminals of a voltmeter of resistance 200 k .
When time t = 0, the reading on the voltmeter is 20.0 V.


(a) the charge on the capacitor at t = 0,[Q0 = 1.0mC]

(b) the reading on the voltmeter at t = 20s [ V = 2.7V]

(c)the time which must elapse, from t = 0, before 75% of the

energy which was stored in the capacitor at t = 0 has been
dissipated.[t= 6.9s]

9. The graph shows how the charge of a capacitor varies with

the p.d. across it.
Use the graph to find

a) the energy stored by the capacitor when charged to a potential

difference of 8V. [ E = 1.84 x 10-2J ]

b) the capacitance of the capacitor [ C = 0.44mF or 4.4x10-4F ]

10. A parallel-plate capacitor with air as the dielectric has a

capacitance of 6x10-4F and is charged by a 100V battery.

a) the charge [Q = 60,000C]

b) The energy stored in the Capacitor [E = 3J]

c) The energy supplied by the battery [E = 6J]

d) i)What accounts for the difference in the answers for part

b and c?

ii) The battery connections are now removed, leaving the

capacitor charged, and a dielectric of relative permittivity of
value 3.0 is placed between the plates. What is the new
energy stored? [E = 9J]

a) If S2 is left open and S1 is closed, calculate the quantity of

charge on each capacitor. [ Q = 400/3 C]

b) If S1 is now opened and S2 is closed, how much current will

flow through the 10 resistor? [ I = 10A]

12. A student uses the apparatus below to measure the

Capacitance, C, of a capacitor. The resistance of resistor R is
100k. The time constant for the circuit is about 2minutes.

a) What is meant by the term time constant .

b) The potential difference, V, across the Capacitor varies with

the discharge time, t, according to the equation,
c) State what measurements you would make in order to obtain
a value for C and how would you use a graph to find the

d) A student has a 360k resistor and two capacitors. One

capacitor is known to have a capacitance of 300F. The two
capacitors in parallel discharge through the resistor with a
time constant of 180s. Calculate a value for the capacitance
of the second capacitor. [200F]

e) What will be the time constant if the two capacitors are

connected in series with the resistor? [T or = 43.2s]