A simple capacitor consists of two metal plates separated by an insulating material called a dielectric, as illustrated in Figure 3-4. Note that one plate is connected to the positive terminal of a battery; the other plate is connected through a closed switch (S1) to the negative terminal of the battery. Remember, an insulator is a material whose electrons cannot easily escape their orbits. Due to the battery voltage, Plate A is charged positively and Plate B is charged negatively. (How this happens is explained later in this chapter.) Thus an electrostatic field is set up between the positive and negative plates. The electrons on the negative plate (Plate B) are attracted to the positive charges on the positive plate (Plate A).
Figure 3-4. - Distortion of electron orbits in a dielectric.
Notice that the orbits of the electrons in the dielectric material are distorted by the electrostatic field. The distortion occurs because the electrons in the dielectric are attracted to the top plate while being repelled from the bottom plate. When Switch S1 is opened, the battery is removed from the circuit and the charge is retained by the capacitor. This occurs because the dielectric material is an insulator, and the electrons in the bottom plate (negative charge) have no path to reach the top plate (positive charge). The distorted orbits of the atoms of the dielectric plus the electrostatic force of attraction between the two plates hold the positive and negative charges in their original position. Thus, the energy which came from the battery is now stored in the electrostatic field of the capacitor. Two slightly different symbols for representing a capacitor are shown in Figure 3-5.Notice that each symbol is composed of two plates separated by a space that represents the dielectric. The curved plate in (B) of the figure indicates the plate should be connected to a negative polarity.
Figure 3-5. - Circuit symbols for capacitors.
Q.4 What are the basic parts of a capacitor?
Edited, Compiled and Published by Ted “Smitty” Smith Sr.
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