Electronic Capacitors

Written by Michael O'Brien
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Electronic capacitors are handy devices in the world of consumer, military, and industrial electronic equipment. It would be difficult, if not impossible to accomplish many of the things we take for granted without them. If you're reading this online, then you're using some capacitors right now. Electronic capacitors are enabling you to use your computer, your television set, and even something as simple as your light switch.

What Electronic Capacitors Do

Electronic capacitors store small amounts of electrical charge. They are simple and passive devices that are used in more complicated systems such as integrated circuits. Electricity is stored and can be used later. This enables systems that may require energy consumption at intervals to do so without becoming overloaded by a constant, steady stream of energy. The idea here is to regulate power flow to keep things from burning out.

A capacitor is simply made. It consists of two electrodes, or plates, with a non-conducting layer between them. The non-conducting layer can be ceramic, plastic, wax, or some other non-conducting material. They sort of look like a micro-sized bucket with two, tiny little wires coming out of the bottom of them.

Charging Plates

When electricity is sent into the capacitor, the plates are charged. One is charged positively, the other is charged negatively. When the voltage stops, the plates are still charged. Now, there's electricity stored in the plates. This is what is called electrostatic induction.


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