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Factors Affecting Capacitance

A capacitor is an electrical device designed for storing electric charge, generally consisting of two parallel conducting plates separated by an insulating layer called a dielectric.

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Click on the arrows to select various combinations of dielectrics, plate areas, and distances.

The capacitance of a capacitor is affected by the area of the plates, the distance between the plates, and the ability of the dielectric to support electrostatic forces. This tutorial explores how varying these parameters affects the capacitance of a capacitor. Larger plates provide greater capacity to store electric charge. Therefore, as the area of the plates increase, capacitance increases.

Capacitance is directly proportional to the electrostatic force field between the plates. This field is stronger when the plates are closer together. Therefore, as the distance between the plates decreases, capacitance increases.

Dielectric materials are rated based upon their ability to support electrostatic forces in terms of a number called a dielectric constant. The higher the dielectric constant the greater the ability of the dielectric to support electrostatic forces. Therefore, as the dielectric constant increases, capacitance increases.

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