Lab 6. RC Circuits. Switch R 5 V. ower upply. Voltmete. Capacitor. Goals. Introduction

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1 Switch ower upply Lab 6. RC Circuits + + R 5 V Goals Capacitor V To appreciate the capacitor as a charge storage device. To measure the voltage across a capacitor as it discharges through a resistor, and to compare the result with the expected, theoretical behavior. To use a semilogarithmic graph to verify that experimental data is well described by an exponential decay and to determine the decay parameters. To determine the apparent internal resistance of a digital multimeter. Introduction A diagram of a simple resistor-capacitor (RC) circuit appears in Figure 6.1. A power supply is used to charge the capacitor. 3 During V this 12 process, 30 charge is transferred 20 from one side of the capacitor to the other. A digital multimeter set on a voltage scale behaves in a circuit like a large (in ohms) resistor. When the power supply is disconnected from the capacitor, charge leaks from one side of the capacitor, through this resistor, back to the other side of the capacitor, until no voltage appears across the terminals of the capacitor. Switch Voltmete Power Supply V R V Capacitor Voltmeter Figure 6.1. Diagram of RC circuit and power supply. The power supply in Figure 6.1 is represented by a battery. Note that the positive output of the power supply is connected to the plate of the capacitor marked with a plus sign. The capacitors used in this experiment make use of a thin layer of dielectric material that forms by a chemical (electrolytic) reaction when the appropriate voltage is placed across the capacitor. These layers can be quite thin and uniform. Electrolytic capacitors can be made inexpensively and are widely 51

2 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 52 used in power supplies. As you may remember from chemistry, the sign of the voltage is critical in electrolytic reactions. Make sure that the plus end of the capacitor is connected to the plus output of the power supply in your circuit. The voltmeter in Figure 6.1 is enclosed by a dashed line. The voltage sensing circuit is represented by a circle with a V inside. All voltmeters have resistance, and this resistance is represented by the resistor symbol inside the box. Our goal is to measure the value of this resistance, R. Theory We plan to monitor the voltage across the capacitor as a function of time after the switch is opened. The functional form of this dependence can be derived by circuit analysis using Kirchhoff s loop law. A simplified diagram of the circuit after the switch is opened is shown in Figure 6.2. For the purposes of analysis, we indicate the positive direction of current by an arrow. This choice defines the sign of positive charge, Q on the capacitor. (Q is positive when the arrow points toward the plate with positive charge.) It also defines the positive direction of V. ( V is positive when the arrow points in the direction of increasing potential.) C i R Figure 6.2. Diagram of RC circuit and power supply. Because our circuit contains no source of emf, the only potential differences in the circuit appear across the capacitor and across the resistor. By Kirchhoff s loop rule, the total potential change as you go all the way around the loop ( V loop ) must be zero. Let the potential difference across the capacitor be V C and the potential difference across the resistor be V R. Then V loop = V C + V R = 0. (6.1) In the presence of a positive charge Q on the capacitor, V C must be negative, as the potential drops as one moves from a positively charged plate to a negatively charged plate. The capacitance, C, of a capacitor is defined so that the magnitude of V C is Q/C. Therefore V C = Q/C. Likewise, potential drops as charge passes through a resistor in the direction of positive current, I. The magnitude of this drop is given by Ohm s law, so that V R = IR. Substituting these relations into Kirchhoff s loop rule yields V C + V R = Q C IR = 0 or I = Q RC (6.2)

3 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 53 When the switch in Figure 6.1 is closed, a positive charge Q = V C, where V = 5 V, is on the top plate of the capacitor. According to our choice of positive direction, both Q and V C are initially negative. While negative charges and potential differences may appear to be inconvenient, they make no difference as far as the math is concerned. It is safe to choose the direction of positive current arbitrarily and work from there. With a positive negative charge on the top plate of the capacitor, a positive current I will flow through the resistor. In this case, a positive current will decrease the magnitude of Q, but since Q is initially negative, the corresponding dq/dt is positive. Therefore I = dq/dt. One of the handy features of Kirchhoff s loop rule is that I always equals dq/dt if you set it up correctly. This is not always true for other approaches to circuit analysis. This relation allows us to reduce Kirchhoff s loop rule to a simple equation with one derivative. Q C = RdQ dt or 1 dq = 1 Q dt RC (6.3) Equation 6.3 is a simple differential equation. The expression on the right hand side of Equation 6.3 is easily integrated, but its solution depends on the initial charge across the capacitor. If we start with an initial charge Q 0 on the capacitor, the charge as a function of time, Q(t) is given by ( Q(t) = Q 0 exp t ) RC (6.4) Since the voltage across the capacitor is directly proportional to the charge stored on it at any instant of time, the voltage difference V C can be written as V C (t) = Q ( 0 C exp t ) ( = V 0 exp t ) RC RC (6.5) where V 0 is the initial voltage across the capacitor. The voltmeter measures this voltage directly. When t/rc equals one (that is, when t = RC), the voltage has decayed to 1/e of its original value. The quantity RC is called the time constant of the decay process. When R and C are expressed in the SI units of ohms and farads, respectively, the RC time constant has units of seconds. Before proceeding, verify that the expression for Q(t) given above is really a solution to the differential equation preceding it. Include this verification in your lab notes. Experiment Set up the circuit shown in the diagram using the Fluke voltmeter. Have your TA check it before continuing. With the power supply set to 5.0 V, close the switch and charge the capacitor. When the switch is opened, the voltage begins to decrease. Try it! Now read the initial voltage, then open the switch and read the voltmeter at 10-second intervals until the voltage is less than 10% of its original value. Repeat this process two more times, making sure that the initial voltage is the same for all three trials.

4 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 54 Analysis To determine the resistance of the voltmeter, make a table in Excel listing the observed voltages and times for your three data sets. (Enter the time data only once.) Add an additional column in the spreadsheet to average the three voltage readings corresponding to each time. Then calculate the standard deviation of the mean of these three values for each time. (Refer to the Uncertainty/Graphical Analysis Supplement at the back of the lab manual for additional details.) The standard deviation of the mean gives an estimate of the uncertainty in the individual voltage measurements. Plot the average voltage values as a function of time with error bars. Your error bars should look like the one in Figure 6.3. The circle in Figure 2 marks the calculated average value for one data point, y avg. The top and bottom bars mark the maximum and minimum values (y max and y min ) on either end of the range of y-values within one standard deviation (σ) of y avg. Thus the top bar is located at y max = y avg + σ, while the bottom bar is located at y min = y avg σ. Get help from your TA if you aren t sure how to plot error bars in Excel. y max y avg y min t Figure 6.3. Diagram of a data point with upper and lower error bars. y 1max Clearly this is not a linear graph. To determine the value of RC, one could perform an exponential y 1avg z curve fit using Excel. However, Excel s curve fit function does 1avg not provide z2max the uncertainty estimate we need. Excel s Regression function will provide an uncertainty, but it requires a linear function. y 1min z 1min z 2avg y Taking the natural logarithm of both 2max The values y 1avg sides and y 2avg of Equation 6.5 will produce the linear equation we z 2min are not consistent, because need. y 2avg their uncertainty ranges The values z 1avg and z 2avg are do not overlap. consistent because their y 2min uncertainty ranges overlap. z 1max ln V C (t) = ln( V 0 ) t RC A plot of ln[ V C (t)] vs t should produce a line of slope t/rc and that equals ln( V 0 ) at time t = 0. The intercept is not very useful this case, except to confirm our knowledge of V 0. The slope, however, gives us 1/RC. Assuming that the value of C marked on the capacitor is reasonably accurate, we can calculate R, the internal resistance of the meter. In practice, the uncertainty in the marked value of C is ±20%. With this and the uncertainty (standard error) in the slope given by Excel s Regression feature, we can estimate the uncertainty in R. A graph with the logarithm of one quantity on one axis versus a non-logarithmic quantity on the other axis is called a semilog graph. (The logarithm appears on only one of the two axes.) Plot a semilog graph of your data. Again include the error bars with each plotted point. Does your (6.6)

5 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 55 graph support the hypothesis that the relationship between the voltage and time is an exponential function? Using the value of C marked on your capacitor, compute the value of the R of the voltmeter and compare it to the value from the manufacturer s specification. Internal resistance of an inexpensive voltmeter Repeat your measurements of V C (t) versus time using the relatively inexpensive (smaller, red or black) digital voltmeter at your lab station. Repeat the analysis above to determine its internal resistance. How does it compare with the internal resistance of the relatively expensive Fluke digital voltmeter? The internal resistance of a voltmeter is one measure of its quality. To measure the potential difference across a component with a high resistance, the internal resistance of your voltmeter should be much higher than the resistance of the component. A voltmeter with a high internal resistance can be used in applications where the measurement error of a meter with a low internal resistance would be unacceptably high. Summary Begin by filling in the blanks of the argument for a simple exponential function being a straight line when plotted semi-logarithmically. Then state your findings clearly, succinctly, and completely. AA extract the information from representation correctly Labs: 1-12 Grading Rubric No Effort Progressing Expectation Exemplary No visible attempt is made to extract information from the experimental setup. Information that is extracted contains errors such as labeling quantities incorrectly, mixing up initial and final states, choosing a wrong system, etc. Physical quantities have no subscripts (when those are needed). Most of the information is extracted correctly, but not all of the information. For example physical quantities are represented with numbers and there are no units. Or directions are missing. Subscripts for physical quantities are either missing or inconsistent. All necessary information has been extracted correctly, and written in a comprehensible way. Objects, systems, physical quantities, initial and final states, etc. are identified correctly and units are correct. Physical quantities have consistent and informative subscripts. AB construct new representations from previous representations construct a different representation. Representations are attempted, but omits or uses incorrect information (i.e. labels, variables) or the representation does not agree with the information used. Representations are constructed with all given (or understood) information and contain no major flaws. Representations are constructed with all given (or understood) information and offer deeper insight due to choices made in how to represent the information. Labs: 1-12

6 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 56 AG Mathematical Labs: 3, 4, 6, 8, No Effort Progressing Expectation Exemplary No representation is constructed. Mathematical representation lacks the algebraic part (the student plugged the numbers right away) has the wrong concepts being applied, signs are incorrect, or progression is unclear. No error is found in the reasoning, however they may not have fully completed steps to solve problem or one needs effort to comprehend the progression. Mathematical representation contains no errors and it is easy to see progression of the first step to the last step in solving the equation. The solver evaluated the mathematical representation with comparison to physical reality. AI Graph Labs: 4, 6, 8, 11 No graph is present. A graph is present but the axes are not labeled. There is no scale on the axes. The data points are connected. The graph is present and axes are labeled but the axes do not correspond to the independent and dependent variable or the scale is not accurate. The data points are not connected but there is no trend-line. The graph has correctly labeled axes, independent variable is along the horizontal axis and the scale is accurate. The trend-line is correct, with formula clearly indicated. AJ Circuit diagram Labs: 4-6, 10 No representation is constructed. Components of the circuit are missing, or connected incorrectly. Components are not clearly labelled. Diagram is missing key features but contains no errors. It may be difficult to follow electrical pathways, but it can be determined which components are connected with sufficient scrutiny. Circuit diagram contains minimal connecting lines, components are neatly arranged to ensure labels are readily identified to appropriate components. BA identify the phenomenon to be investigated No phenomenon is mentioned. The description of the phenomenon to be investigated is confusing, or it is not the phenomena of interest. The description of the phenomenon is vague or incomplete but can be understood in broader context. The phenomenon to be investigated is clearly stated. Labs: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12 BE describe what is observed concisely, both in words and by means of a picture of the experimental setup. No description is mentioned. A description is incomplete. No labeled sketch is present. Or, observations are adjusted to fit expectations. A description is complete, but mixed up with explanations or pattern. OR The sketch is present but relies upon description to understand. Clearly describes what happens in the experiments both verbally and with a sketch. Provides other representations when necessary (tables and graphs). Labs: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12

8 CHAPTER 6. RC CIRCUITS 58 EXIT TICKET: Turn off the power to all the equipment, including the battery-powered digital voltmeters. Please put all leads and small components in the plastic tray provided. Quit Capstone and any other software you have been using. Straighten up your lab station. Put all equipment where it was at start of lab. Report any problems or suggest improvements to your TA. Have TA validate Exit Ticket Complete.

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