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# A. F.

Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves Fields & Waves Note #11 Capacitors in Series and Parallel: Field Mapping

10/04

Objectives: Continue the study of capacitance, by considering examples with multiple layers or regions of different permittivities. Expand the concept of series and parallel capacitance to describe the field mapping approach for general capacitor shapes. Example: A parallel-plate capacitor with two layers of dielectric Figure 1 depicts the cross section of a parallel-plate capacitor with plates located at x = 0 and x = d, as in Note #10. However, in this situation the region between the plates is divided into two materials, at location x = c, as illustrated. As in the previous examples, we assume that the fields are ideal in the sense that they are only functions of x, and neglect any fringing of the fields near the edges of the plates. As in the preceding examples, the problem can be posed mathematically as determining the voltage between the plates, using Laplaces equation. However, we must separately treat the two regions between the plates. Therefore the differential equation to consider is separated into two equations, by region: d 2V1 V1 = = 0, dx 2
2

## 0< x<c c<x<d

(11.1)

d 2V2 V2 = = 0, dx 2
2

(11.2)

The solutions V1 and V2 are subject to the boundary conditions V1 ( x ) x = 0 = 0 V2 ( x ) x = d = V0 at the plates. In addition, the continuity of the voltage may be imposed at x = c: V1 ( x ) x = c = V2 ( x ) x = c (11.5) (11.3) (11.4)

A fourth condition is required, and must be obtained from the conditions that are satisfied by the electric field at the material interface. Since E = -V , the only component of E present between the plates is Ex = dV dx (11.6)

Because Ex is the normal component at the interface, the appropriate condition (Note #9) is

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

e1 E x1 x = c = e 2 E x 2 x = c

(11.7)

By combining the relations in (11.6) and (11.7), we obtain the fourth boundary condition as

e1

dV1 dV = e2 2 dx x = c dx

(11.8)
x =c

The general solutions to the differential equations in (11.1) and (11.2) are easily obtained as V1 ( x ) = K1 + K 2 x, V2 ( x ) = K 3 + K 4 x, 0< x<c c<x<d (11.9) (11.10)

There are four constants to be determined by the boundary conditions. Imposing (11.3) yields V1 ( x ) x = 0 = K1 + K 2 (0) = 0 or equivalently, K1 = 0 Imposing (11.4) results in the equation V2 ( x ) x = d = K 3 + K 4 ( d ) = V0 The condition in (11.5) produces V1 ( x ) x = c = K 2 (c ) = V2 ( x ) x = c = K 3 + K 4 (c ) Finally, (11.8) results in (11.14) (11.13) (11.12) (11.11)

e1

dV dV1 = e1K 2 = e 2 2 dx dx x = c

x =c

= e 2K 4

(11.15)

In this situation, the application of the four boundary conditions results in one of the four constants being given directly (K1 = 0), and three equations that must be solved to determine the other constants: K 3 + dK 4 = V0 cK 2 - K 3 - cK 4 = 0 e1K 2 - e 2K 4 = 0

(11.16)

A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves From the last equation, we determine K2 =

10/04

e2 K e1 4

(11.17)

## Substituting this result into the second equation, we obtain e K 3 = c 2 - 1 K 4 e1 (11.18)

Finally, by combining (11.18) with the first equation of the three, we obtain the result K4 = V0e1 c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 (11.19)

By substituting back into (11.17) and (11.18), we obtain K2 = K3 = V0e 2 c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 V0 (e 2 - e1 )c c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 (11.20)

(11.21)

Therefore, the solution for voltage as a function of x is given by V1 ( x ) = V0 V2 ( x ) = V0 xe 2 , c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 c (e 2 - e1 ) + xe1 , c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 0< x<c c<x<d (11.22)

(11.23)

It is easily verified that this result has the form of (11.1) and (11.2), and satisfies the four boundary conditions imposed above. The electric field between the capacitor plates may be found as E x1 = Ex2 = dV1 e2 , = -V0 dx c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 dV2 e1 , = -V0 dx c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1 0< x<c c<x<d (11.24)

(11.25)

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

Thus, the electric field is a constant in each region, but a different constant. (The E -field has a jump discontinuity at the interface to satisfy equation 11.7.) The voltage and electric field are sketched in Figure 2. The surface charge density on the plates of the capacitor can be determined from the boundary condition (Note #9) eE rs = n surface of a conductor which, for the plate at x = 0, produces e1 E1 rs x = 0 = x x =0 = e1 E x1 x = 0 = -V0 (11.27) (11.26)

e1e 2 c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1

direction and we obtain For the plate at x = d, the normal vector points in the - x ) e2 E2 rs x = d = (- x x =d = e2 Ex2 x =d = +V0 (11.28)

e1e 2 c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1

Thus, equal and opposite charge density exists on the surface of the plates. Suppose each plate has area A. Then the total charge on the plates is obtained from the product of (11.27) and (11.28) with A. The capacitance is therefore C=

e1e 2 A c (e 2 - e1 ) + de1

(11.29)

Although this completes the solution of the 2-layered capacitor geometry, we observe that the result for C can be rewritten as

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves C=

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e1e 2 A e 2c + e1 ( d - c ) 1 = c d-c + e1 A e 2 A 1 = 1 1 + C1 C2

(11.30)

where C1 = C2 =

e1 A c e2 A d-c

(11.31) (11.32)

The expression in (11.30) is the formula for the capacitance of two individual capacitors, C1 and C2, connected in series. C1 appears to be a capacitor of thickness c, filled with material of permittivity e1, while C2 appears to be a capacitor of thickness dc, filled with material of permittivity e2. As illustrated in Figure 3, the combination of two layers in a single capacitor is equivalent to two independent capacitors attached in series. Example: Capacitance per unit length of a coaxial cable filled with two materials Figure 4 illustrates the cross section of a coaxial geometry containing two different materials separating the inner and outer conductors of the coax. The region between the angles f = 0 and f = p has permittivity e1, while that between f = p and f = 2p has permittivity e2. We wish to determine the capacitance per unit length of this structure. The form of Laplaces equation and the associated boundary conditions is identical to that of the homogeneously-filled coaxial cable studied in Note #10. Therefore, we obtain the solution for V as V ( r) = V0 ln(b / r) , ln(b / a) a< r<b (11.33)

In addition, we obtain the same electric field in the region between the plates E= V0 r r ln(b / a) (11.34)

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

However, when we calculate the surface charge density using (11.26), we obtain different results depending on the material adjacent to the conductor: e1 E 0<f <p r r =a rs r = a = e2 E r p < f < 2p r =a (11.35)

By substituting (11.34) into (11.35), we determine the charge density on the inner conductor as e1V0 0<f <p a ln(b / a) = e 2V0 p < f < 2p a ln(b / a)

rs r = a

(11.36)

Similarly, for the outer conductor we find -e1V0 0<f <p b ln(b / a) = -e 2V0 p < f < 2p b ln(b / a)

rs r = b

(11.37)

The total charge per unit length is given by the integral of charge density over f: q r =a =

(11.38)

q r = b = -V0

(11.39)

## From these results, we obtain the capacitance per unit length as C=

p (e1 + e 2 ) ln(b / a)

(11.40)

## pe1 pe 2 + ln(b / a) ln(b / a) = C1 + C2

(11.41)

Thus, this result appears to be that of two capacitors in parallel. C1 is half the capacitance of a coaxial capacitor filled with material having permittivity e1, while C2 is half the capacitance

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

of a coaxial capacitor filled with material having permittivity e2. Figure 5 illustrates the equivalence. Capacitors in Series and Parallel The preceding examples confirm that when capacitors are combined in series or parallel, their net capacitance can be determined from expressions such as Cseries = 1 1 1 1 + + C1 C2 C3 (11.42)

Cparallel = C1 + C2 + C3

(11.43)

These results can be used to construct approximate solutions for structures of general cross section shape. Capacitance per unit length by Field Mapping Figure 6 illustrates the cross section of a coaxial transmission line, with the inner conductor of hexagonal shape and the outer conductor of circular shape. This geometry does not lend itself to a straightforward mathematical solution for voltage, electric field, and capacitance. However, the capacitance can be estimated using a procedure we denote field mapping. The procedure is based on two properties. First is the property that the capacitance per unit length of an ideal parallel-strip capacitor is (Note #10) C=

ew d

(11.44)

where the strips have cross-sectional dimension w and are separated by a distance d. For the special case of w = d, we have the result C=e (11.45)

The second property is that summarized in equations (11.42) and (11.43), which can be rewritten to state that when (S P) identical capacitors are connected in series and parallel, the capacitance is given by Ccombination = P C S individual (11.46)

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

where P is the number of parallel combinations and S is the number of series combinations (Figure 7). Returning to Figure 6, suppose that the region between the conductors is divided into cells that are approximately square. The division is obtained in terms of E -field lines that run from one conductor to the other, and H -field lines that run perpendicular to the E -field lines. The E -field lines must be perpendicular to the conductor surfaces. The process of drawing these lines is done by hand, by trial and error, until a division is obtained that appears to consist entirely of cells that are roughly square. Note that the cells are not the same size, and thus the map cannot usually be made of cells that are exactly square. For our purposes, it is sufficient to produce a map that contains cells that circumscribe circles (circles are easy to sketch). Figure 8 illustrates a portion of one possible subdivision for the structure in Figure 6. In Figure 8, there are 5 divisions between the conductors (S = 5), and 36 divisions around the perimeter (P = 36). Since each cell contributes a capacitance per unit length of e following (11.45), the total capacitance per unit length is estimated from (11.46) to be C@ 36 e 5 (11.47)

While this result is not an exact solution, the approach is often adequate for back of the envelope calculations. Furthermore, since the fields within individual cells in a larger structure exhibit essentially no fringing, the result in (11.46) may actually be more accurate if based on a carefully-drawn field map than the ideal result in (11.44) if used for the entire capacitor! The field mapping procedure is sometimes known as the method of curvilinear squares.

Example:

A microstrip transmission line cross section is shown in Figure 9. Use the given field map to estimate the capacitance per unit length.

Solution:

Microstrip transmission lines are widely used for microwave engineering applications. A microstrip line consists of a conducting strip separated from a ground plane by a dielectric layer. For the purpose of this example, we assume that the dielectric material above and below the upper conductor is the same. The field lines sketched in Figure 9 account for the fringing effects that occur (due to the face that some of the charge on the upper conductor wraps around the top side). The reader should verify that the cells in Figure 9 circumscribe circles. By counting the cells, we determine that there are S = 5 cells between the conductors, and P = 38 cells around the upper conductors. Therefore,

## A. F. Peterson: Notes on Electromagnetic Fields & Waves

10/04

C@

38 e = 7.6e 5

(11.48)

The result in (11.48) can be compared with a direct application of (11.44), based on the approximate dimensions (measured from the figure) w = 54 (mm) d = 10 (mm) Equation (11.44) yields C= (11.49) (11.50)

ew = 5.4e d

(11.51)

It is apparent that (11.44) underestimates the actual capacitance per unit length of the structure. If the field map in Figure 9 is accurate, (11.44) underestimates the capacitance by almost 30%!

Field mapping can be extended to structures containing more than one material by combining the capacitance of the cells in each region separately. For the microstrip example, for instance, the permittivity under the upper conductor (28 cells of the map) may be different from that above the upper conductor (10 cells of the map). In that situation, the capacitance may be calculated according to C@ 28 10 e below + e above 5 5 (11.52)

where the different materials are weighted according to the fraction of the cells they contain.