# Today in Physics 122: capacitors

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1 Today in Physics 122: capacitors Parallelplate and cylindrical capacitors: calculation of capacitance as a review in the calculation of field and potential Dielectrics in capacitors Capacitors, dielectrics and energy Capacitors as elements of electrical circuits 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

2 Calculation of the capacitance of arrangements of conductors Other materials besides conductors have capacitance, but arrangements of conductors lend themselves to straightforward calculation of C. Usually this goes as follows: Presume electric charge to be present; say, Q if there is only one conductor, or ±Q if there are two. Either: Calculate the electric field from the charges, and integrate it to find the potential difference V between the conductors, or Solve for the potential difference directly, using Then C = Q/V. V = kdq rr. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

3 Parallelplate capacitor Consider two parallel conducting plates, separated by a distance d that is very small compared to their extent in other dimensions. Suppose each plate has area A. It doesn t matter what the shape of the flat plates are, as long as they are parallel and very close together. With charges ±Q on the plates, the charge densities are uniform and have values σ = ±Q A. w w w A d A d d A 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

4 Parallelplate capacitor (continued) At points well inside the gap, the plates can be regarded as infinite, to good approximation. As we found on 11 September 2012, the electric field between two oppositelycharged infinite parallel plates is uniform, with magnitude E= 4 πkσ. σ = Q A. d E = 4πkσ σ = Q A. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

5 Parallelplate capacitor (continued) So 4π kd V = Ed = 4πkσd = Q A C A = = 4π kd ε A 0 d Q C σ = Q A. d E = 4πkσ σ = Q A. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

6 Cylindrical capacitor Consider two, coaxial, conducting cylinders with radii R 1 and R 2 > R 1. Their length is L R 2 and they carry opposite charges ±Q (charge per unit length λ = ±Q L). At points well inside the gap, the cylinders can be regarded as infinite, to good approximation. λ λ R 1 R 2 L 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

7 Cylindrical capacitor (continued) We have shown by use of Gauss s law (18 September 2012) that 2 kλ rˆ r, R1 < r < R2 E = 0, r R2, R1 for infinite, oppositelycharged coaxial cylinders. λ λ R 1 R 2 L 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

8 Cylindrical capacitor (continued) Thus 2 dr Q R2 Q V = Ed = 2kλ = 2k ln ; r L R1 C C L 2πε0L = = 2kln R R ln R R R R ( ) ( ) λ λ R 1 R 2 L 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

9 Units of capacitance In MKS: the unit of capacitance, named in honor of Michael 1 coul Faraday, is the farad : 1F = 1 volt Note that ε = coul Nt m = F m = 8.85 pf m One farad is a Huge capacitance. Those found around the lab and in circuits are usually in the pf µf range ( F). A 1F parallelplate capacitor with d = 25 µm (0.001 in) has A = 2.8 km 2 : 1.7 km on a side, if square. 2.8 cm 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

10 Dielectric insulators in capacitors It would be asking too much for the electrodes of these vacuumgapped capacitors to stay put. Real capacitors are made by putting conductive coatings on thin layers of insulating (nonconducting) material. In turn, most insulators are polarizable: The material contains lots of randomlyoriented molecules with dipole moments. When such a capacitor is charged, these dipoles experience torque (see 11 September 2012) that aligns them in the capacitor s internal E. The alignment of the dipoles takes work, which takes up some of the energy put into the charging. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

11 Dielectric insulators in capacitors (continued) 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall V V V = 0 E

12 Dielectric insulators in capacitors (continued) Because the E fields generated by the dipoles themselves points in the opposite direction as the field from the applied voltage, more charge will flow to the electrodes for a given voltage, than would in the absence of the dielectic. Or put it the other way: a smaller applied voltage is required for a given charge, since the attraction to the dipoles s charges can do some of the work of the voltage. Thus the capacitance is larger with the dielectric between the plates, than it is with vacuum. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

13 Dielectric insulators in capacitors (continued) Experiments show that most dielectric insulators increase the capacitance by a factor K, the material s dielectric constant. K is different in general for different materials, and usually lies in the range 140. So if an arrangement of conductive electrodes yields a capacitance of C 0 without dielectric, its capacitance will be C = KC 0 when filled with dielectric. Replace ε with Kε in formulas for C. C = Kε0A d Dielectricfilled parallelplate capacitor 2πKε0L ln ( R R ) October 2012 Physics 122, Fall C = Dielectricfilled cylindrical capacitor

14 Energy, capacitors and dielectrics Recall the expression for energy stored in a capacitor: Q U = CV = 2 2 C For a given V, more energy can be stored in a dielectric filled capacitor ( C = KC 0 ) than in a vacuumfilled one ( C = C 0 ), since K > 1. For a given Q, less energy can be stored thereby. Thus the electrostatic pump: Use a cylindrical capacitor like a straw in a dielectric, nonconducting fluid. First, with the capacitor out of the fluid, charge the capacitor up to Q with V. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

15 Energy, capacitors and dielectrics (continued) Then disconnect V. The capacitor retains the charge Q. Now put one end of the capacitor into the fluid. Because the (positive!) potential energy U in the capacitor 2 2 is less with dielectric than without ( Q 2C0 Q 2KC0), fluid will be drawn into the capacitor. and will rise to the level at which the electrostatic potential energy decrease is balanced by the gravitational potential energy increase. See diagram on next page. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

16 Energy, capacitors and dielectrics (continued) Cutaway view: V Q Q 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

17 Capacitors in circuits Capacitors are used ubiquitously in electrical circuits as energystorage reservoirs. The appear in circuit diagrams as where the two short lines are supposed to remind you of a parallelplate capacitor, the other lines are used to connect the capacitor to other components, and all of the lines are understood to be perfect conductors. There are two ways two capacitors can be connected: series, and parallel. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

18 Capacitors in circuits (continued) By definition, capacitors connected in parallel have the same voltage: V C1 C2 C 3 = V Ceq Their charges are all in the ratio of their capacitances, and the total charge of the combination is Q= CV CV CV ( ) = C C C V C V eq parallel capacitors are equivalent to a single capacitor with C equal to the sum of the capacitances. 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

19 Capacitors in circuits (continued) Capacitors in series have different voltages, but all the same charge, since there is no way to get a net charge to the middle conductors: C Q Q Q Q Q Q eq C1 C2 C = 3 V1 V2 V3 V V so Q Q Q V = C C C = Q C1 C2 C3 C 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall eq Q

20 Capacitors in circuits (continued) With these rules, one can calculate the single C equivalent to any network of Cs which involve purely series or parallel combinations of components. Example. What single capacitance is equivalent to this pyramid of ten capacitors, all with the same value C? 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

21 Capacitors in circuits (continued) First resolve the parallel combinations: C = 2C 3C 4C 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

22 Capacitors in circuits (continued) And then the remaining series combination: C 2C 3C 4C = = = C C 2C 3C 4C 12C C eq eq 12 = C 25 2 October 2012 Physics 122, Fall

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