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  • It is a device which has an ability to store electric charge. It functions like a battery which charges and discharges efficiently.

  • A Capacitor consists of two metal plates separated by a dielectric/insulator. A capacitor may have more than two plates depending upon the they type of dielectric.

  • It is rated in Farads-Volts/meter, where Farads is unit of capacitor and volts/meter is the charge per distance. It is measured in capacitance.

  • The capacitor can store energy momentarily, but cannot add energy on continuous basis like battery. The capacitance[C] is the ratio of Charge[Q] to Voltage(V).

  • Capacitor removes ripples from DC signal, hence it is used in regulated DC power supplies.It allows high frequency current through it very easily. It provides less resistance to AC and high resistance to DC, hence we say that capacitor passes AC and Blocks DC.

  • Capacitor is one of the important component which you can visualise is various electronic device and circuits like in MOSFET's, Diode's, etc. where it plays an important role in their operation.

  • Construction of Capacitor

    Construction of Capacitor

    Important Concepts related to capacitor:

    Quality Factor:
  • It is the ratio of energy stored to energy dissipated. Less is the dissipation of energy, higher is the Quality Factor of capacitor.

  • It is also defined as the ratio of reactance to the resistance of capacitor at a given frequency.

  • Quality Factor of Capacitor
    Capacitance Frequency Characteristics:
  • It is the graph which shows the relation of capacitance to its operating frequency.
  • Capacitance Frequency Characteristics
    Charging and Discharging:

    In capacitor when it is provided with a supply, voltage starts building up in two ways: linearly or exponentially, depending upon its associated circuitry. This voltage builds upto maximum limit. Even after reaching max limit, if supply is still provided then it will damage the capacitor.

    While charging if supply is removed at particular voltage and if there is no discharge path/open circuit then capacitor will hold that value of voltage(like energy stored in battery). When a complete path is provided then capacitor starts discharging and value of voltage across capacitor starts decreasing. Capacitor discharges in two ways like charging does. This characteristic of capacitor is used in many applications like multi-vibrators, Oscillators, Digital Sampling etc.

    Equivalent Series Resistance(ESR):

    It is the characteristic representing the sum of resistive (ohmic) losses within a capacitor.It is the AC impedance of the capacitor when used at high frequencies and includes the resistance of the dielectric material, the DC resistance of the terminal leads, the DC resistance of the connections to the dielectric and the capacitor plate resistance all measured at a particular frequency and temperature. While ESR is undesirable, all capacitors exhibit ESR to some extent. ESR is a frequency dependent characteristic. By considering Ohm's law: Vr = IR, where Vr is the ripple voltage and R is the ESR. It is noticed that if the current (I) increases from 2A to 10A then the ripple voltage will also increase. Thus ESR should be as low as possible.

    Classification of capacitors

    The Capacitor are classified in three ways:
  • 1.Based on nature of value
  • 2. based on dielectric material
  • 3. based on polarization
  • Classification of Capacitors


    Electrolytic Capacitor
  • Electrolytic Capacitor is a polarised capacitor that uses electrolyte to achieve larger value of capacitance.

  • This capacitor is formed by placing the materials in the following sequence/stack: First is aluminium foil, followed by electrolyte forming a cathode after which there is a thin layer of oxide followed by metal aluminium foil forming an anode of the capacitor.

  • This arrangement is then folded along with a paper foil as insulator into a cylindrical case taking out its connecting pins.

  • Electrolytic capacitors does not perform well with large amplitude and high frequency signals. This is because of power dissipation at the parasitic internal resistance known as Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR).

  • They are available in range of one micro Farads up to several 1000's micro Farads.

  • These capacitor have marked polarities on its cap. One can also identify its polarities through the length of their pins/terminals. A Pin which is large in length is positive terminal and the one which is small is a negative terminal.

  • Types of electrolytic capacitors are: Aluminium electrolytic capacitor and Tantalum electrolytic capacitor

  • It is used in power supply, audio application, in starter circuits, as energy discharge capacitor, smoothing circuits etc.
  • Construction of Electrolytic Capacitors

    Mica Capacitor
  • Mica is a type of mineral and is used as a dielectric material in Mica Capacitor. It was one of the material that was used in capacitors earlier.

  • Electrically stable, chemically and mechanically stable are the properties of Mica because of which it is popular for its stability, accuracy and mechanical structure.

  • This capacitor is formed by a thin sheet of mica layered with a thing sheet of silver which are then clamped with addition of electrodes.

  • A thin sheets of mica of the order 0.025-0.125 mm are produced making available in the capacitance range of 1-4700 pico Farads up to 1 micro Farads.

  • The voltage rating of mica capacitor ranges between 100 to 1000 volts and the one which are designed for RF(Radio Frequency) applications ranges up to 10 KVolts.

  • Types of Mica capacitors are: Clamped mica capacitor and Sliver mica capacitor

  • It is found in applications like radio/TV transmitters, cable TV amplifiers, high-voltage inverter circuits etc.
  • Construction of Mica Capacitors

    Ceramic Capacitor
  • Ceramic capacitor is a non polarised capacitor in which ceramic is used as a dielectric material.

  • Disc type ceramic capacitor is manufactured by placing metal foil on both sides of a ceramic disc.

  • Types of Ceramic capacitors are: Disc capacitor and Multi Layered capacitor. They are also classified based on class of ceramic i.e. class 1, class 2 and class3.

  • Disc Ceramic capacitor are available in range of 1 pico Farads to 0.22 micro Farads, whereas Multi Layered Ceramic capacitor is available in range of 1 pico Farads to 100 micro Farads.

  • It is used in applications like coupling and decoupling circuits, fax machines and modems, etc.
  • Construction of Ceramic Disc Capacitors

    Combination of Capacitors

    Capacitor in series: Ceq= 1/C1 + 1/C2
    Capacitor in parallel: Ceq = C1 + C2


  • Smoothing the output of power supply circuits(As Filter)
  • Coupling network
  • In radio for tuning frequencies
  • In Oscillators and amplifiers
  • Timer circuits(Like IC 555)

  • CACKLE comment system

    Programming Resources
    Computer Networking Fundamentals Android Application