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# CAPACITORS AND DIELECTRICS.

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## Example Problem: The Geiger Counter

3. Capacitors in Combination
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Example Problem:

ulti-plate Capacitor

#. \$ielectrics
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## Example Problem: The !pherical Capacitor

(. Energ) in Capacitors
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## Example Problem: Capacitors in Parallel. Example Problem: Energ) !tored in Capacitors

1. Introduction
* capacitor is an arrangement o+ conductors that is used to store electric charge. * ,er) simple capacitor is an isolated metallic sphere. The potential o+ a sphere 'ith radius and charge . is e/ual to

011 E/uation 011 sho's that the potential o+ the sphere is proportional to the charge . on the conductor. This is true in general +or an) con+iguration o+ conductors. This relationship can be 'ritten as 021 'here C is called the capacitance o+ the s)stem o+ conductors. The unit o+ capacitance is the farad 021. The capacitance o+ the metallic sphere is e/ual to

031

## 2. The parallel-plate capacitor

*nother example o+ a capacitor is a s)stem consisting o+ t'o parallel metallic plates. In Chapter 2( it 'as sho'n that the potential di++erence bet'een t'o plates o+ area *3 separation distance d3 and 'ith charges 4. and -.3 is gi,en b)

0#1 5sing the de+inition o+ the capacitance 0e/.02113 the capacitance o+ this s)stem can be calculated:

0%1 E/uation 021 sho's that the charge on a capacitor is proportional to the capacitance C and to the potential 6. To increase the amount o+ charge stored on a capacitor 'hile 7eeping the potential 0,oltage1 +ixed3 the capacitance o+ the capacitor 'ill need to be increased. !ince the capacitance o+ the parallel plate capacitor is proportional to the plate area * and in,ersel) proportional to the distance d bet'een the plates3 this can be achie,ed b) increasing the sur+ace area * and"or decreasing the separation distance d. These large capacitors are usuall) made o+ t'o parallel sheets o+ alumini8ed +oil3 a +e' inches 'ide and se,eral meters long. The sheets are placed ,er) close together3 but 7ept +rom touching b) a thin sheet o+ plastic sand'iched bet'een them. The entire sand'ich is co,ered 'ith another sheet o+ plastic and rolled up li7e a roll o+ toilet paper.

## E a!ple Pro"le!# The \$ei%er Counter

The tube o+ a Geiger counter consists o+ a thin straight 'ire surrounded b) a coaxial conducting shell. The diameter o+ the 'ire is 9.992% cm and that o+ the shell is 2.% cm. The length o+ the tube is 19 cm. :hat is the capacitance o+ a Geiger-counter tube ;

&i%ure 1. Sche!atic of a \$ei%er counter. The problem 'ill be sol,ed under the assumption that the electric +ield generated is that o+ an in+initel) long line o+ charge. * schematic side ,ie' o+ the tube is sho'n in 2igure 1. The radius o+ the 'ire is r'3 the radius o+ the c)linder is rc3 the length o+ the counter is &3 and the charge on the 'ire is 4.. The electric +ield in the region bet'een the 'ire and the c)linder can be calculated using Gauss< la'. The electric +ield in this region 'ill ha,e a radial direction and its magnitude 'ill depend onl) on the radial distance r. Consider the c)linder 'ith length & and radius r sho'n in 2igure 1. The electric +lux =Phi> through the sur+ace o+ this c)linder is e/ual to 0(1 *ccording to Gauss< la'3 the +lux =Phi> is e/ual to the enclosed charge di,ided b) =epsilon>9. There+ore

## 0?1 The electric +ield E0r1 can be obtained using e/.0?1:

0@1 The potential di++erence bet'een the 'ire and the c)linder can be obtained b) integrating the electric +ield E0r1:

0A1 5sing e/.021 the capacitance o+ the Geiger tube can be calculated:

0191 !ubstituting the ,alues +or r'3 rc3 and & into e/.0191 'e obtain 0111

## '. Capacitor( in Co!"ination

The s)mbol o+ a capacitor is sho'n in 2igure 2. Capacitors can be connected togetherB the) can be connected in series or in parallel. 2igure 3 sho's t'o capacitors3 'ith capacitance C1 and C23 connected in parallel. The potential di++erence across both capacitors must be e/ual and there+ore

0121

## &i%ure 2. S)!"ol of a Capacitor.

&i%ure '. T*o capacitor( connected in parallel. 5sing e/.0121 the total charge on both capacitors can be calculated 0131 E/uation 0131 sho's that the total charge on the capacitor s)stem sho'n in 2igure 3 is proportional to the potential di++erence across the s)stem. The t'o capacitors in 2igure 3 can be treated as one capacitor 'ith a capacitance C 'here C is related to C1 and C2 in the +ollo'ing manner 01#1 2igure # sho's t'o capacitors3 'ith capacitance C1 and C23 connected in series. !uppose the potential di++erence across C1 is =\$elta>61 and the potential di++erence across C2 is =\$elta>62. * charge . on the top plate 'ill induce a charge -. on the bottom plate o+ C1. !ince electric charge is conser,ed3 the charge on the top plate o+ C2 must be e/ual to .. Thus the charge on the bottom plate o+ C2 is e/ual to -.. The ,oltage di++erence across C1 is gi,en b)

## 01%1 and the ,oltage di++erence across C2 is e/ual to

01(1

&i%ure +. T*o capacitor( connected in (erie(. The total ,oltage di++erence across the t'o capacitors is gi,en b)

01?1 E/uation 01?1 again sho's that the ,oltage across the t'o capacitors3 connected in series3 is proportional to the charge .. The s)stem acts li7e a single capacitor C 'hose capacitance can be obtained +rom the +ollo'ing +ormula

01@1

## E a!ple# ,ulti-plate Capacitor

* multi-plate capacitor3 such as used in radios3 consists o+ +our parallel plates arranged one abo,e the other as sho'n in 2igure %. The area o+ each plate is *3 and the distance bet'een adCacent plates is d. :hat is the capacitance o+ this arrangement ;

## &i%ure -. A ,ulti-plate Capacitor.

The multiple capacitor sho'n in 2igure % is e/ui,alent to three identical capacitors connected in parallel 0see 2igure (1. The capacitance o+ each o+ the three capacitors is e/ual and gi,en b)

01A1 The total capacitance o+ the multi-plate capacitor can be calculated using e/.01#1:

0291

## E a!ple Pro"le!# Capacitor( in Serie(/Parallel

Three capacitors3 o+ capacitance C1 D 2.9 u23 C2 D %.9 u23 and C3 D ?.9 u23 are initiall) charged to 3( 6 b) connecting each3 +or a +e' instants3 to a 3(-6 batter). The batter) is then remo,ed and the charged capacitors are connected in a closed series circuit3 'ith the positi,e and negati,e terminals Coined as sho'n in 2igure ?. :hat 'ill be the +inal charge on each capacitor ; :hat 'ill be the ,oltage across the points PP< ;

&i%ure 0. Capacitor( in Serie(/Parallel. The initial charges on each o+ the three capacitors3 /13 /23 and /33 are e/ual to

0211

*+ter the three capacitors are connected3 the charge 'ill redistribute itsel+. The charges on the three capacitors a+ter the s)stem settles do'n are e/ual to .13 .23 and .3. !ince charge is a conser,ed /uantit)3 there is a relation bet'een /13 /23 and /33 and .13 .23 and .3:

0221 The ,oltage bet'een P and P< can be expressed in terms o+ C3 and .33 or in terms o+ C13 C23 .13 and .2:

0231 and

02#1 5sing e/.0221 the +ollo'ing expressions +or .1 and .2 can be obtained: 02%1 02(1 !ubstituting e/.02%1 and e/.02(1 into e/.02#1 'e obtain

02?1 Combining e/.02?1 and e/.02313 .3 can be expressed in terms o+ 7no'n ,ariables:

02@1 !ubstituting the 7no'n ,alues o+ the capacitance and initial charges 'e obtain 02A1 The ,oltage across P and P< can be +ound b) combining e/.02A1 and e/.0231:

0391

## The charges on capacitor 1 and capacitor 2 are e/ual to 0311 0321

+. Dielectric(
I+ the space bet'een the plates o+ a capacitor is +illed 'ith an insulator3 the capacitance o+ the capacitor 'ill chance compared to the situation in 'hich there is ,acuum bet'een the plates. The change in the capacitance is caused b) a change in the electric +ield bet'een the plates. The electric +ield bet'een the capacitor plates 'ill induce dipole moments in the material bet'een the plates. These induced dipole moments 'ill reduce the electric +ield in the region bet'een the plates. * material in 'hich the induced dipole moment is linearl) proportional to the applied electric +ield is called a linear dielectric. In this t)pe o+ materials the total electric +ield bet'een the capacitor plates E is related to the electric +ield E+ree that 'ould exist i+ no dielectric 'as present:

0331 'here =7appa> is called the dielectric constant. !ince the +inal electric +ield E can ne,er exceed the +ree electric +ield E+ree3 the dielectric constant =7appa> must be larger than 1. The potential di++erence across a capacitor is proportional to the electric +ield bet'een the plates. !ince the presence o+ a dielectric reduces the strength o+ the electric +ield3 it 'ill also reduce the potential di++erence bet'een the capacitor plates 0i+ the total charge on the plates is 7ept constant1:

03#1 The capacitance C o+ a s)stem 'ith a dielectric is in,ersel) proportional to the potential di++erence bet'een the plates3 and is related to the capacitance C+ree o+ a capacitor 'ith no dielectric in the +ollo'ing manner

03%1 !ince =7appa> is larger than 13 the capacitance o+ a capacitor can be signi+icantl) increased b) +illing the space bet'een the capacitor plates 'ith a dielectric 'ith a large =7appa>. The electric +ield bet'een the t'o capacitor plates is the ,ector sum o+ the +ields generated b) the charges on the capacitor and the +ield generated b) the sur+ace charges

on the sur+ace o+ the dielectric. The electric +ield generated b) the charges on the capacitor plates 0charge densit) o+ =sigma>+ree1 is gi,en b)

03(1 *ssuming a charge densit) on the sur+ace o+ the dielectric e/ual to =sigma>bound3 the +ield generated b) these bound charges is e/ual to

03?1 The electric +ield bet'een the plates is e/ual to E+ree"=7appa> and thus

03A1 or

0#91

## E a!ple Pro"le!# The Parallel Plate Capacitor

* parallel plate capacitor o+ plate area * and separation distance d contains a slab o+ dielectric o+ thic7ness d"2 0see 2igure @1 and dielectric constant =7appa>. The potential di++erence bet'een the plates is =\$elta>6. a1 In terms o+ the gi,en /uantities3 +ind the electric +ield in the empt) region o+ space bet'een the plates. b1 2ind the electric +ield inside the dielectric. c1 2ind the densit) o+ bound charges on the sur+ace o+ the dielectric.

&i%ure 1. The Parallel-Plate Capacitor. a1 !uppose the electric +ield in the capacitor 'ithout the dielectric is e/ual to E9. The electric +ield in the dielectric3 Ed3 is related to the +ree electric +ield ,ia the dielectric constant =7appa>:

0#11 The potential di++erence bet'een the plates can be obtained b) integrating the electric +ield bet'een the plates:

## 0#21 The electric +ield in the empt) region is thus e/ual to

0#31 b1 The electric +ield in the dielectric can be +ound b) combining e/.0#11 and 0#31:

## 0##1 c1 The +ree charge densit) =sigma>+ree is e/ual to

0#%1 The bound charge densit) is related to the +ree charge densit) ,ia the +ollo'ing relation

0#?1

## -. \$au(( La* in Dielectric(

The electric +ield in an Eempt)E capacitor can be obtained using Gauss< la'. Consider an ideal capacitor 0'ith no +ringing +ields1 and the integration ,olume sho'n in 2igure A. The area o+ each capacitor plate is * and the charges on the plates are 4"-.. The charge enclosed b) the integration ,olume sho'n in 2igure A is e/ual to 4.. Gauss< la' states that the electric +lux =Phi> through the sur+ace o+ the integration ,olume is related to the enclosed charge:

0#@1 I+ a dielectric is inserted bet'een the plates3 the electric +ield bet'een the plates 'ill change 0e,en though the charge on the plates is 7ept constant1. Fb,iousl)3 Gauss< la'3 as stated in e/.0#@13 does not hold in this case. The electric +ield E bet'een the capacitor plates is related to the dielectric-+ree +ield E+ree:

0#A1 'here =7appa> is the dielectric constant o+ the material bet'een the plates. Gauss< la' can no' be re'ritten as

## E a!ple Pro"le!# The Spherical Capacitor.

* metallic sphere o+ radius - is surrounded b) a concentric dielectric shell o+ inner radius -3 and outer radius 3-"2. This is surrounded b) a concentric3 thin3 metallic shell o+ radius 2- 0see 2igure 191. The dielectric constant o+ the shell is =7appa>. :hat is the capacitance o+ this contraption ;

!uppose the charge on the inner sphere is .+ree. The electric +ield inside the dielectric can be determined b) appl)ing Gauss< la' +or a dielectric 0e/.0%911 and using as the integration ,olume a sphere o+ radius r 0'here - G r G 3-"21

## 0%11 The electric +ield in this region is there+ore gi,en b)

0%21

&i%ure 13. Pro"le! 2-. The electric +ield in the region bet'een 3-"2 and 2- can be obtained in a similar manner3 and is e/ual to

0%31 5sing the electric +ield +rom e/.0%21 and e/.0%31 'e can determine the potential di++erence =\$elta>6 bet'een the inner and outer sphere:

0%#1 The capacitance o+ the s)stem can be obtained +rom e/.0%#1 using the de+inition o+ the capacitance in terms o+ the charge . and the potential di++erence =\$elta>6:

0%%1

. Ener%) in Capacitor(
The electric potential energ) o+ a capacitor containing no dielectric and 'ith charge 4"-. on its plates is gi,en b)

0%(1 'here 61 and 62 are the potentials o+ the t'o plates. The electric potential energ) can also be expressed in terms o+ the capacitance C o+ the capacitor

0%?1 This +ormula is also correct +or a capacitor 'ith a dielectricB the properties o+ the dielectric enters into this +ormula ,ia the capacitance C.

## E a!ple Pro"le!# Capacitor( in Parallel.

Ten identical % u2 capacitors are connected in parallel to a 2#9-6 batter). The charged capacitors are then disconnected +rom the batter) and reconnected in series3 the positi,e terminal o+ each capacitor being connected to the negati,e terminal o+ the next. :hat is the potential di++erence bet'een the negati,e terminal o+ the +irst capacitor and the positi,e terminal o+ the last capacitor ; I+ these terminals are connected ,ia an external circuit3 ho' much charge 'ill +lo' around this circuit as the series arrangement discharges ; Ho' much energ) is released in the discharge ; Compare this charge and this energ) 'ith the charge and energ) stored in the original3 parallel arrangement3 and explain an) discrepancies. The charge on each capacitor3 a+ter being connected to the 2#9-6 batter)3 is e/ual to 0%@1 The potential di++erence across each capacitor 'ill remain e/ual to 2#9 6 a+ter the capacitors are connected in series. The total potential di++erence across the ten capacitors is thus e/ual to 0%A1 I+ the t'o end terminals o+ the capacitor net'or7 are connected3 a charge o+ 1.2 mC 'ill +lo' +rom the positi,e terminal to the negati,e terminal 0see 2igure 111.

&i%ure 11. Pro"le! +3. The electric energ) stored in the capacitor net'or7 be+ore discharge is e/ual to 0(91 The energ) stored in each capacitor3 a+ter being charged to 2#9 63 is e/ual to

0(11 Clearl) no energ) is lost in the process o+ changing the capacitor con+iguration +rom parallel to serial.

## E a!ple Pro"le!# Ener%) Stored in Capacitor(.

Three capacitors are connected as sho'n in 2igure 12. Their capacitances are C1 D 2.9 u23 C2 D (.9 u23 and C3 D @.9 u2. I+ a ,oltage o+ 299 6 is applied to the t'o +ree terminals3 'hat 'ill be the charge on each capacitor ; :hat 'ill be the electric energ) o+ each ;

&i%ure 12. pro"le! '2. !uppose the ,oltage across capacitor C1 is 613 and the ,oltage across capacitor 0C2 4 C31 is 62. I+ the charge on capacitor C1 is e/ual to .13 then the charge on the parallel capacitor is also e/ual to .1. The potential di++erence across this s)stem is e/ual to

0(21 The charge on capacitor 1 is thus determined b) the potential di++erence =\$elta>6

0(31 The ,oltage 623 across the capacitor 0C2 4 C31 is related to the charge .1

0(#1 The charge on capacitor C2 is e/ual to 0(%1 The charge on capacitor C3 is e/ual to 0((1 The electric potential energ) stored in each capacitor is e/ual to

0(?1 2or the three capacitors in this problem the electric potential energ) is e/ual to

0(@1

0(A1

0?91 I 2ran7 &. H. :ol+s3 5ni,ersit) o+ -ochester3 -ochester3 JK 1#(2?3 5!* &ast updated on 2rida)3 Fctober (3 2999 21:%2