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Capacitance

Electric fields can be used to store energy.


How?
Any two conductors
near each other form a
CAPACITOR, we say
there is capacitance in
the system

Capacitance
A capacitor is an energy storage device.
A capacitor can store charge: q is
removed from one side of the
capacitor and placed onto the other,
leaving one side with (-q) and the
other side with (+q).
We have to do WORK to do this.
If we connect the two conductors
with a wire, the charges flow to make
the potential difference between
conductors = 0.
When this happens, energy is
released

Capacitance
Analogy with air tank:

Capacitance
Definition of capacitance:

Charge that can be stored


in capacitor is proportional
to the potential (voltage)
which is pushing the
charge into the conductors

Constant of proportionality
is C, the capacitance

Capacitance
C is just a function of geometry between two
conductors

General method to calculate capacitance:


a) Assume a charge on the conductors
b) Calculate the voltage difference due to the charge
`
c) The Ratio Q/V is the capacitance
The unit of capacitance is called the Farad (F)
One Farad is equal to one Coulomb per Volt ( F = C / V )

Typical capacitor geometries


Parallel
plates

conductor

insulator
Concentric
cylinders

Concentric
spheres

Capacitance for Parallel Plates

Gauss:

So

q
E E Area E A
0

q 0

or EA

q
E
0 A

Potential = force/q x distance:

V Ed

separation
d

E-field

area A

To calculate capacitance, need to determine


the E field between the plates. We use Gauss
Law, with one end of our gaussian surface
closed inside one plate, and the other closed
in the region between the plates

Total charge q
on inside of plate

0 EA 0 A
C q /V

Ed
d

Capacitances for simple geometries


Parallel Plate Capacitor

0 A
d

L
Cylindrical (nested cylinder) Capacitor
ln(b / a )
ab
C 4 0
Spherical (nested sphere) Capacitor
ba
C 2 0

Units of the Farad: named after Michael Faraday


Faraday had little formal education, and knew little of higher
mathematics such as calculus, or even trigonometry, or any
but the simplest algebra.
Discovered the electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism,
and the laws of electrolysis, invented the use of the field lines

1791 1867

His inventions formed the foundation of electric motor


technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that
electricity became viable for use in technology.

Energy Stored in Capacitors


Energy stored in a capacitor = like a
stretched spring has potential energy
associated with it.
How much work is required to
charge a capacitor?
Its the work to move charges from
one plate to another, one at a time.
Moving first electron: almost no
potential difference, not a lot of work.
But with more and more electrons:
the potential difference V gets bigger
and bigger, so more work is required

Energy Stored in Capacitors


Each electron has to do qe x V of
work to get across. Total work is
total charge x average potential
difference:

The energy stored in a


capacitor is the energy
required to charge it:

Electric field energy


Another way to think of the energy stored in
a in a charged capacitor:
Imagine the stored energy

1
2
U

CV

is contained in the space

2
between the plates
We can calculate an energy DENSITY (Joules per volume): The volume
between the plates is A d. Then the energy density (u) is
1 CV 2

But we know

V Ed

and

0 A
C
d

so

2 Ad

1
u 0 E 2
2

This is an important result because it tells us that empty


space can contain energy, if there is an electric field in
the "empty" space.
If we can get an electric field to travel (or propagate) through empty space
we can send or transmit energy! This is achieved with light waves (or
microwaves or radio waves or whatever)

Dielectrics
Dielectric is another word for insulator, a material that
does not allow charges to move easily through it.
Why do we write 0, with a little 0 subscript? Because other
materials (water, paper, plastic, even air) have different
permittivities = k0. Here, k is called the dielectric
constant.
In all of our equations where you see 0, you can
substitute 0 when considering some other materials

Some Dielectric Constants


Material

Air

1.00054

Polystyrene

2.6

Paper

3.5

Transformer Oil

4.5

Pyrex

4.7

Ruby Mica

5.4

Porcelain

6.5

Silicon

12

Germanium

16

Ethanol

25

Water (20 C)

80.4

Water (50 C)

78.5

Titania Ceramic

130

Strontium
Titanate

310

Notice is larger than 1


The nice thing about this is that we
can increase the capacitance of a
capacitor by filling the space
between conductors with a dielectric:

0 A
C
C
d

Dielectrics
A dielectric in an electric field becomes polarized; this
allows it to reduce the electric field in the gap for the same
potential difference.

Dielectrics

Inserting a dielectric into a


capacitor while either the
voltage or the charge is
held constant has the
same effect the ratio of
charge to voltage
increases.

Combining capacitances
Capacitors in series all have the same charge;
the total potential difference is the sum of the
potentials across each capacitor.
Note that this gives
the inverse of the
capacitance.

Combining capacitances
Capacitors in parallel all have the same potential
difference; the total charge is the sum of the
charge on each.

Combining capacitances

We can picture capacitors in parallel as


forming one capacitor with a larger area:

Review of Capacitance:
Capacitance of a parallel-plate capacitor:

Energy stored in a capacitor:

A dielectric is a nonconductor; it increases


capacitance.
Dielectric constant: