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# Capacitance

## Objectives: After completing

this module, you should be
able to:

## Define capacitance in terms of charge

and voltage, and calculate the
capacitance for a parallel plate
capacitor given separation and area of
the plates.
Define dielectric constant and apply to
calculations of voltage, electric field
intensity, and capacitance.
Find the potential energy stored in
capacitors.

Maximum Charge on a
Conductor

## A battery establishes a difference of potential that can

pump electrons e- from a ground (earth) to a conductor
Battery
Earth

e-

Conductor

- - - - - e
----- -

There
There isis aa limit
limit to
to the
the amount
amount of
of charge
charge that
that aa
conductor
conductor can
can hold
hold without
without leaking
leaking to
to the
the air.
air.
There
There isis aa certain
certain capacity
capacity for
for holding
holding charge.
charge.

Capacitance
The
Thecapacitance
capacitanceCCof
ofaaconductor
conductorisis
defined
definedas
asthe
theratio
ratioof
ofthe
thecharge
chargeQQon
on
the
theconductor
conductorto
tothe
thepotential
potentialVV
produced.
produced.
Conductor
Battery
Earth
e- - - Q, V - e-

---

QQ
: :Coulombs
per
volt
Capacitanc CC ; ; Units
Units
Coulombs
per
volt
VV
e:

One farad (F) is the capacitance C of a conductor that
holds one coulomb of charge for each volt of potential.
QQ
coulomb
(C)
coulomb
(C)
(F)

VV
volt
volt (V)
(V)

## Example: When 40 C of charge are placed on a

con- ductor, the potential is 8 V. What is the
capacitance?

Q 40 C
C
V
8V

CC =
= 55 F
F

Capacitance of Spherical
Conductor

At surface of sphere:

Capacitance, C

kQ
kQ
kQ
EE 2 ;; VV kQ
rr 2
rr

r
+Q

1
k
Recall:
4 0
kQ
Q
And: V

r
4 0 r

Q
Q
C
V Q 4 0 r

E and V at surface.

Q
Capacitance: C
V

C
C 44
00rr

## Example 1: What is the

capacitance of a metal sphere of
Capacitance, C
r
+Q
r = 0.08 m

Capacitance: C = 4r

## C 4 (8.85 x 10-12 C Nm2 )(0.08 m)

-12
CC==8.90
x
10
8.90 x 10-12 FF

Note:
Note:The
The capacitance
capacitance depends
depends only
only on
on physical
physical paraparameters
meters (the
and isis not
not determined
determined by
by either
either
charge
charge or
or potential.
potential.This
This isis true
true for
for all
all capacitors.
capacitors.

## Example 1 (Cont.): What charge Q

is needed to give a potential of 400 V?
Capacitance, C
r
+Q
r = 0.08 m

-12
CC ==8.90
x
10
8.90 x 10-12 FF

Q
C ; Q CV
V
Q (8.90 pF)(400 V)

## Total Charge on Conductor:

Q
Q == 3.56
3.56 nC
nC

Note:
Note:The
(F) and
and the
the coulomb
coulomb (C)
(C) are
are
extremely
extremely large
large units
units for
for static
static electricity.
electricity.The
The SI
SI
prefixes
prefixes micro
micro ,
, nano
nano n,
n, and
and pico
pico pp are
are often
often used.
used.

Dielectric Strength
The dielectric strength of a material is
that electric intensity Em for which the
material becomes a conductor. (Charge
leakage.)
Em varies considerably with
r
physical and environmental
Q
conditions such as pressure,
Dielectric
humidity, and surfaces.
6
For
For air:
air: EEmm == 33 xx 10
106 N/C
N/C for
for spherical
spherical surfaces
surfaces
66
and
as
low
as
0.8
x
10
and as low as 0.8 x 10 N/C
N/C for
for sharp
sharp points.
points.

## Example 2: What is the maximum

charge that can be placed on a
spherical surface one meter in
2
diameter?
m)
Maximum Q (R = 0.50
kQ
E r
r
Q

Air

Em = 3 x 106 N/C

Em

(3 x 106 N C)(0.50 m) 2
Q
9 Nm 2
9 x 10
C2

## Maximum charge in air: Q

Qmm =
= 83.3
83.3 C
C
This
This illustrates
illustrates the
the large
large size
size of
of the
the coulomb
coulomb as
as aa
unit
unit of
of charge
charge in
in electrostatic
electrostatic applications.
applications.

## Capacitance and Shapes

The charge density on a surface is
significantly affected by the curvature. The
density of charge is greatest where the
curvature is greatest.
+ + + + ++
+ + +++
+
kQ
++
kQ
+
mm
+
+
+
+
+
EEmm 2
+
+
++ + + + +
+
2

rr

Leakage
Leakage (called
(called corona
corona discharge)
discharge) often
often occurs
occurs
at
at sharp
sharp points
points where
where curvature
curvature rr isis greatest.
greatest.

+Q

Area A

-Q

parallel
plates:
Q
V
C
and E
V
d

## You will recall from Gauss law that E is

also:
QQ
Q is charge on either
EE
plate. A is area of
00 00AA
plate.

V
Q
E
d 0 A

And

Q
AA
Q
CC 00
VV
dd

## Example 3. The plates of a parallel

plate capacitor have an area of
0.4 m2 and are 3 mm apart in air.
What is the capacitance?
Q
AA
Q
A
CC 00
VV
dd
0.4 m2
C

(8.85 x 10

-12 C2
Nm 2

)(0.4 m 2 )

(0.003 m)
CC==1.18
1.18 nF
nF

3 mm

Applications of Capacitors
A microphone converts sound waves into an
electrical signal (varying voltage) by changing d.
Changing d

Microphone

AA
CC 00
dd
QQ
VV
CC

Changing
++
Area
++
-- ++
- + A

---

Variable
Capacitor

## The tuner in a radio is a variable capacitor. The changing

area A alters capacitance until desired signal is obtained.

Dielectric Materials
Most capacitors have a dielectric material between
their plates to provide greater dielectric strength
and less probability for electrical discharge.
Eo

+
+
+ Air +
+
+
Co

reduced E
+-+-+ +
+-+-+ +-+-++
+
Dielectric

E < Eo

+
+- + +- + +
+- + +
C > Co

## The separation of dielectric charge allows more charge

to be placed on the platesgreater capacitance C > Co.

Smaller
Smaller plate
plate separation
separation without
without contact.
contact.
Increases
Increases capacitance
capacitance of
of aa capacitor.
capacitor.
Higher
Higher voltages
voltages can
can be
be used
used without
without
breakdown.
breakdown.
Often
Often itit allows
allows for
for greater
greater mechanical
mechanical
strength.
strength.

Insertion of Dielectric
Air
Dielectric

Field decreases.
E < Eo

+Q
Co Vo Eo
-Q

+ +
+
+ +
+

Insertion of
a dielectric +Q
Same Q
Q = Qo

C V E
-Q

Voltage decreases.
V < Vo
Capacitance increases.
C > Co

+ +

Permittivity increases.
> o

Dielectric Constant, K
The dielectric constant K for a material is
the ratio of the capacitance C with this
material as compared with the
capacitanceCCo in a vacuum.
Dielectric
Dielectric
KK C
CC00
constant:
constant: KK =
=
11 for
for Air
Air
K can also be given in terms of voltage V,
electric field intensity E, or permittivity :

VV00 EE00
KK
VV EE 00

The Permittivity of a
Medium

## The capacitance of a parallel plate

capacitor with a dielectric can be found
from:

AA
AA
CC KC
or
KC00 or
or CC KK00
or CC
dd
dd

## The constant is the permittivity of the

medium which relates to the density of
field lines.
2

KK00;;

00 8.85
8.85 xx 10
10

-12
-12 CC2
22
Nm
Nm

## Example 4: Find the capacitance C

and the charge Q if connected to 200-V
battery. Assume the dielectric constant
is K = 5.0.
5(8.85 x 10-12C/Nm2)

## 44.25 x 10-12 C/Nm2

-12 C2
Nm 2

A
0.5 m2

)(0.5 m )
A (44.25 x 10
C
d
0.002 m

CC =
= 11.1
11.1
nF
nF
Q if connected to V = 200

V?
Q = CV = (11.1 nF)(200
V)

2 mm

Q
Q=
= 2.22
2.22
C
C

## Example 4 (Cont.): Find the field E

between the plates. Recall Q = 2.22 C; V
= 200 V.

Q
Gauss ' law : E
A

## 44.25 x 10-12 C/Nm2

A
0.5 m2

2.22 x 10-6 C
E
-12 C 2
(44.25 x 10 Nm2 )(0.5 m 2 )

EE =
= 100
100 N/C
N/C

## Since V = 200 V, the same result is

found if E = V/d is used to find the
field.

200
V
2 mm

## Example 5: A capacitor has a capacitance

of 6F with air as the dielectric. A battery
charges the capacitor to 400 V and is then
disconnected. What is the new voltage if a
sheet of mica (K = 5) is inserted? What is
Air dielectric
C V0
V0?
new
capacitance
C
K
; V
C0 V
K
V
=
400
V
o
400 V
VV =
V
;
= 80.0
80.0
5
VV
Mica
C = Kco = 5(6 F)
dielectric
CC =
= 30
30
FF

Mica, K = 5

## Example 5 (Cont.): If the 400-V battery is

reconnected after insertion of the mica,
the plates due to the increased
AirCC?o = 6 F
Q0 = C0V0 = (6 F)(400
V) Q = 2400 C
Vo = 400 V
0

Q = CV = (30 F)(400
V)
Q = 12,000 C
Q = 12,000 C 2400
C
Q = 9600 C

Mica C = 30
F
Mica, K = 5

Q
Q=
= 9.60
9.60
mC
mC

Energy of Charged
Capacitor
The potential energy U of a
charged capacitor is equal to
the work (qV) required to charge
the capacitor.
If we consider the average
potential difference from 0 to Vf
to be V/2:
Work
Work =
= Q(V/2)
Q(V/2) =
=
QV
QV
22
Q
22
Q
1
1
1
1
U

QV
;
U

CV
;
U

U 22 QV ; U 22 CV ; U
22CC

## Example 6: In Ex-4, we found

capacitance to be 11.1 nF, the voltage
200 V, and the charge 2.22 C. Find the
potential energy U
.
2
2
Capacitor
U
U 1122CV
CV
of
2
U 1 2 (11.1 nF)(200 V)
Example
5C. = 11.1
nF
U
U=
= 222
222
J
J
the other formulas for
P.E.
22

QQ
UU QV
QV;; UU
22CC
11
22

200
V
U=?

Q = 2.22
C

Capacitor

## Energy density u is the energy per unit

volume (J/m3). For a capacitor of area A
and separation d, the energy density u
is found as follows:
U
U
Energy
u

A
d
Density u for
an E-field:

0 A
Recall C
and V Ed :
2
1
U Density
Energy
d
u
u:
2
1

A

2
2
0
u E
1
1
U 2 CV 2

( Ed )

Summary of Formulas
QQ
coulomb
(C)
coulomb
(C)
(F)

VV
volt
volt (V)
(V)

Q
AA
Q
CC KK00
C
44
C

00rr
VV
dd
CC VV00 EE00
22
1
1
KK
u

E
u

E
0
2
0
2
CC00 VV EE 00
22
Q
Q
11 QV ;
11 CV 22;
U

U 22 QV ; U 22 CV ; U
22CC