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Introduction to Capacitor

What is Capacitor?

Capacitor is also known as condenser. This is one of the passive components like resistor.
Capacitor is generally used to store the charge. In capacitor the charge is stored in the form of
“electrical field”. Capacitors play a major role in many electrical and electronic circuits.

Generally, a capacitor has two parallel metal plates which are not connected to each other. The two
plates in the capacitor are separated by non conducting medium (insulating medium) this medium is
commonly known as Dielectric.

There are different types and different shapes of capacitors available , from very small
capacitors which are used in resonance circuits to large capacitors for stabilising HVDC lines.
But all capacitors are doing the same work that is storing the electrical charge.

The shape of a capacitor is rectangular, square, circular, cylindrical or spherical shape. Unlike a
resistor, an ideal capacitor does not dissipate energy.As the different types of capacitors are
available different symbols were available to represent them which are shown below.
Why capacitors are important?

Capacitors have many properties like

1. They can store the energy and it can dissipate this energy to the circuit when ever required.
2. They can block DC and allow AC to flow through it, and this can couple one part of the circuit
with the other.
3. Circuits with capacitors depend on the frequency, so can be used to amplify certain frequencies.
4. As the capacitors when applied with AC input , the current leads the voltage and thus in power
applications it increases the pay load power and makes it more economical.
5. It allows high frequencies and so it can be used as a filters either to filter low frequencies or to
collect high frequencies.
6. As the reactance and frequency of the capacitor are inversely related, this can be used to
increase or decrease the circuit impedance at certain frequency and can be used as filter.

Likewise, capacitors exhibit many properties , when used in AC or DC circuits and hence they
play important role in electrical and electronic circuits.

Construction of a Capacitor

As said before , there are different types of capacitors. These different types will have different
type of construction. A Parallel plate capacitor is the simplest capacitor. Let us understand the
construction of this capacitor.

It consists of two metal plate separated by a distance. The space between these two plates is
filled with a dielectric material. The two leads of the capacitor are taken from these two plates.

The capacitance of the capacitor depends on the distance between the plates and area of the
plates. Capacitance value can be changed by varying any of these parameters.

A variable capacitor can be constructed by making one of these plates fixed and other moving.

Dielectric Of a Capacitor

Dielectric acts as an insulating material between the plates . Dielectric can be any non
conducting material such as ceramic, waxed paper, mica, plastic or some form of a liquid gel.

Dielectric also plays an important in deciding the value of capacitance. As the dielectric is
introduced between the plates of the capacitor ,its value increases.

Different dielectric materials will have different dielectric constants ,however this value is >1.

Below table gives value of dielectric constant for each dielectric material
Dielectric can be of two types

1. Polar dielectrics: These dielectrics will have permanent dielectric movement


2. Non Polar dielectrics: These will have temporary dielectric moment. By placing them in a electric
field they can be induced with dipole moments.

Complex Permittivity

The product of the relative permittivity (εr) of the dielectric material and permittivity of free
space (εo) is known as “Complex permittivity” or “Actual permittivity” of the dielectric material.
The expression for the complex permittivity is given as follows,

ε = ε0 * εr

The value of complex permittivity will always be equal to the relative permittivity, because the
permittivity of free space is equal to ‘one’. The value of dielectric constant or complex
permittivity varies from one dielectric material to another.

Some standard values of complex permittivity (ε) for common dielectric materials are Air =
1.0005, Pure Vacuum = 1.0000, Mica = 5 to 7, Paper = 2.5 to 3.5, Wood = 3 to 8, Glass = 3 to 10
and Metal Oxide Powders = 6 to 20 and etc.

capacitors can be classified according to the properties and characteristics of their insulating or
dielectric material, they are given below as

1. High Stability & Low Loss Capacitors — Mica, Low-K Ceramic, and Polystyrene capacitors are
examples for this type.
2. Medium Stability & Medium Loss Capacitors – Paper, Plastic Film, and High-K Ceramic capacitors
are examples for this type.
3. Polarized Capacitors – Example for this type of capacitors are Electrolytic, Tantalum’s.

Working

As said before capacitor consists of two conductor separated by a dielectric , when there is any
potential difference between the two conductors electric potential is developed.This causes the
capacitor to charge and discharge.

Let us understand this in a practical way. When the capacitor is connected to a battery(a DC
source) , current starts flowing through the circuit .
Thus negative charge is accumulated on one plate and positive charge is accumulated on the
other plate. This process continuous until the capacitor voltage reaches supply voltage.

When the charging voltage is equal to the supply voltage capacitor stops charging further even
though the battery is connected. When the battery is removed two plates will be accumulated
with positive and negative charges. Thus the charge is stored in the capacitor.

But when the supply voltage is from an AC source it charges and discharges continuously .The
rate of charging and discharging depends on the frequency of the source.

Example

Working can be understood using simple example here. Below circuit shows two switches A and
B. When switch 1 is closed , current starts flowing from from the battery to the capacitor. When
the capacitor voltage reaches the supply voltage ,it stops charging further.

Now connect the switch to position B. Now you can observe the LED starts glowing and this slowly fades
out as the capacitor is discharging.

Capacitance of the capacitor is given by

C=KεA/d
or

C= εA/4πd

or

C = εo * εr (A/d)

Where,

C – Capacitance of the capacitor

A – Area between the plates

D – Distance between the two Plates

εo – Permittivity of free space

εr – Relative permittivity.

K- Dielectric Constant

Capacitance of a Capacitor

Capacitance is the property of the capacitor that defines the maximum amount of electrical
charge stored in it.it exists in nature everywhere.

Capacitance may vary depending on the shape of the capacitor. Capacitance can be calculated by
using the geometry of the conductors and dielectric material properties. Let us see the
capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor.

Capacitance is defined as the ratio of charge (Q) on the either plates to the potential
difference(V) between them ,

C =Q/V,

Thus current can be obtained as

I(t)=C[d(v)/d(t)]

This can can be expressed Farads (F) which is named after English physicist Michael Faraday.

From the above definition we can observe that capacitance is directly proportional to the charge
(Q) and is inversely proportional to the voltage (V).

Capacitance of the capacitor can be increased by increasing the number of plates, which helps to
maintain the same size of the capacitor. Here, area of the plates is increased.
Standard units of capacitance

Generally Farads is a high value so, capacitance is expressed as sub units of capacitor real time
such as as micro farads(uF) , nano farads(nF) and pico farads(PF).

Most of the electrical and electronic applications are covered by the following standard unit (SI)
prefixes for easy calculations,

 1 mF (milli farad) = 10−3 F = 1000 μF = 1000000 nF


 1 μF (microfarad) =10−6 F = 1000 nF = 1000000 pF
 1 nF (nano farad) = 10−9 F = 1000 pF
 1 pF (picofarad) = 10−12 F

To convert µF to nF or pF or to a wide range of other units and vice versa, we need to use the
Electric Capacitance Unit Converter.

Voltage Rating of a Capacitor

This is not voltage until which the capacitor charges but the maximum voltage until which the
capacitor can operate safely. This voltage is called as working voltage (WV) or DC working
voltage (DC-WV).Below figure shows the voltage rating of the capacitor.

If the capacitor is applied with voltage greater than this voltage, it may be damaged by producing
an arc between the plates due to dielectric break down.

While designing the circuits with capacitors, care should be taken such that the voltage rating of
the capacitor is greater than the voltage used in the circuit. For example if the circuit operating
voltage is 12V then it is necessary to choose a capacitor with voltage rating of 12V or above.

This working voltage of a capacitor depends on the factors like dielectric material used between
the capacitor plates, dielectric thickness and also on the type of circuit which is used.
Types of Capacitors
There are different types of capacitors available in the market. The key factor in distinguishing
different types of capacitors is the Dielectric used in its construction. Some of the common
capacitor types are ceramic, electrolytic (which include Aluminium capacitors, Tantalum
capacitors and Niobium capacitors), plastic film, paper and mica.

Each capacitor type has its own advantages and disadvantages. The characteristics and areas of
applications may vary from one capacitor to other. Hence, when choosing a capacitor, following
few of many factors must be considered.

Size: Both the physical dimension and the value of the capacitance is important.

Working Voltage: It is an important characteristic of the capacitor. It specifies the maximum


voltage that can be applied across the capacitor.

Leakage Current: A small amount of current will flow through dielectric as they are not the
perfect insulators. This is called leakage current.

Equivalent series resistance: The terminals of the capacitor have a small amount of resistance
(usually less than 0.1Ω). This resistance becomes a problem when the capacitor used at high
frequencies.

These factors determine how and in what applications a particular type of capacitor can be used.
For example, the rated voltage of an electrolytic capacitor is larger when compared to a ceramic
capacitor in the similar capacitance range.

So they are generally used in power supply circuits. Similarly, some capacitors have very low
leakage current and others have very high leakage current. Depending on the application,
appropriate capacitor should be chosen.
Dielectrics in Capacitors

Fixed capacitors are more common types of capacitors. It is difficult to find an electronic circuit
without a capacitor. Most of the capacitors are named after the dielectric used in the
construction. Some of the common dielectrics used in the construction of capacitors are:

 Ceramic
 Paper
 Plastic film
 Mica
 Glass
 Aluminium Oxide
 Tantalum Pentoxide
 Niobium Pentoxide

The last three are used in electrolytic capacitors. Despite the use of different kinds of dielectrics
in the construction of capacitors, the functionality of the capacitor doesn’t change: to store
energy in the form of electric charge between the parallel plates.

Variable Capacitors

Like resistors, capacitors are also available as fixed and variable types. Variable capacitors are
those in which the capacitance can be changed either mechanically or electronically. Such
capacitors are generally used in resonant circuits (LC circuits) for tuning radios and impedance
matching in antennas. These capacitors are usually called Tuning Capacitors.

There is another type of variable capacitors called Trimmer Capacitor. These are fixed on PCB’s
and are used for the calibration of the equipment. They are non-polarised capacitors and are very
small in size. They are generally not available for the use of regular customer. The capacitance of
variable capacitors is very small which is usually in the order of few picofarads (generally less
than 500pF).

Mechanical variable capacitors consist of a set of semi-circular metal plates fixed on the axis of a
rotor. This setup is placed between a set of stator metal plates. The overall capacitance value (C)
for this type of capacitors is determined according to the position of the moving metal plates with
respect to the fixed metal plates. When the axis is turned, the area of overlap between the stator
plates and rotor plates will vary and the capacitance is changed.

In this design, when the two sets of metal plates are fully meshed together , the capacitance value
is generally at maximum value. High voltage type tuning capacitors have large air-gaps or spaces
between the plates with relatively large break down voltages in order of kilo volts. For this
reason these dielectric capacitors are very useful in tuning circuits.

Mechanical variable capacitors generally use air or plastic foils as dielectric. But the use of
vacuum variable capacitors is increasing as they provide better working voltage range and higher
current handling capabilities. The capacitance in case of mechanically tuned capacitors can be
varied using the screw on the top of the capacitor.

In case of electronically controlled variable capacitors, a reverse biased diode is used in which
the thickness of the depletion layer will vary according to the applied DC voltage. Such diodes
are called as Variable Capacitance Diodes or simply Varicaps or Varactors.
Ceramic Capacitors

Ceramic capacitors are the most used capacitors in the electronics industry. They are also the
most produced capacitors with over 1000 billion units being produced every year. The name
comes from the ceramic material which is the dielectric used in its construction.

Ceramic capacitors are fixed capacitance type capacitors and they are usually very small (in
terms of both physical dimensions and capacitance). The capacitance of ceramic capacitors is
usually in the range of picofarads to few micro farads (less than 10µF). They are non-polarised
type capacitors and hence can be used in both DC as well as AC circuits.

The construction of these types of capacitors is very simple. A small ceramic disc is coated with
silver on either side. Hence they are also called as Disc Capacitors. The ceramic acts as dielectric
(insulator) and the silver coating will form the electrodes.

The thickness and the composition of the ceramic layer will determine the electrical properties of
the capacitor. In order to achieve large capacitance values, multiple layers of such disc are
stacked to form a multi-layer ceramic chip capacitor (MLCC). Modern electronics generally
comprise of MLCC capacitors.

The capacitance of the ceramic capacitors is large when compared to their size. In order to
achieve this large capacitance, the dielectric constant of ceramic capacitors is very high. Ceramic
capacitors are divided into two classes based on the areas of applications.

Class 1 Ceramic Capacitors

Often used in resonant circuits because of their high stability and low loss. The most common
type of ceramic used in class 1 capacitor is made from Titanium dioxide (TiO2) with small
portions of Zinc, Magnesium used as additional compounds. These are added in order to achieve
the maximum possible linear characteristics.

Class 1 capacitors have low permitivity and hence the efficiency in terms of volume is relatively
low. Therefore, the capacitance range of class 1 capacitors is low. The electrical losses of class 1
capacitors are very low and the dissipation factor is 0.15 percent. The value of the capacitance is
independent of the applied voltage.

They have a liner temperature coefficient. All these characteristics of class 1 ceramic capacitors
make them useful in the applications like filters with high Q factor and oscillator circuits like
PLL’s. There is no fear of aging of class 1 ceramic capacitors.

Class 2 Ceramic Capacitors

Often used in buffers, coupling circuits and by-pass systems because of their high efficiency in
terms of volume. This high volume efficiency is because of their high permittivity. The
capacitance of class 2 capacitors will depend on the applied voltage and has a non-linear change
for temperature changes.

The accuracy and stability are less when compared to class 1 ceramic capacitors. The ceramic for
class 2 capacitors is made from ferro electric materials like Barium Titanate (BaTiO3) with
additives like silicates of aluminium or magnesium and oxide of aluminium.

Because of the high permittivity in class 2 capacitors, high capacitance values are possible with
smaller size than class 1 capacitors of same rated voltage. Hence, they are used in buffers, filters
and coupling circuits where the capacitor is required to maintain a minimum capacitance. Class 2
capacitors can age over time.

Another class of ceramic capacitors is also available called Class 3 with higher permittivity and
better volumetric efficiency. But the electrical characteristics of this class are worse along with
poor accuracy and stability.

Generally, ceramic capacitors have less ESR (Equivalent series resistance) and leakage current
when compared to electrolytic capacitors. The working voltage of class 1 ceramic capacitors is
up to 1000V and that in class 2 ceramic capacitors is up to 2000V.

The main advantage of ceramic capacitors is that there are no coils inside its structure and so
there is no inductance factor introduced during circuit operation. Hence, ceramic capacitors are
suitable for high frequency applications.

Ceramic capacitors are available in normal two leaded through-hole structures, surface mount
(SMT) multi layer mode and special lead less disc capacitors that are designed particularly for
PCB’s. Both the through-hole and surface mount ceramic capacitors are frequently used.
Ceramic capacitors are normally having a 3-digit number coded on their body to identify the
capacitance value generally in picofarads (pF).

In that, the first two digits are used to indicate the capacitance value and the third digit indicates
the number of zeros to be added. For example a ceramic capacitor with the markings 153 would
indicate 15 and 3 zero’s in picofarads which is equivalent to15, 000 pF or 15nF.
Film Capacitor

Film capacitors are the most commonly used type of capacitors among all types of capacitors
which have the difference in their dielectric properties.Film capacitors are the capacitors with an
insulating plastic film as its dielectric and these are non-polarised capacitors.

The dielectric materials for these capacitors are existed in the form of a thin layer which is
provided with metallic electrodes and it is wounded in to a cylindrical winding. The both
electrodes of film capacitors may be zinc or metalized aluminium.

The main advantage of film capacitor is direct connection between its internal construction and
its electrodes on both ends of the winding. This direct contact with electrodes causes to keep all
current paths to become short.This design behaves like a large number of individual capacitors
connected in parallel. And also this type of capacitors structure results in low ohmic losses and
the low parasitic inductances . These film capacitors are used in AC power applications and also
used in the high frequency applications.

Some of the examples of plastic films which are used as dielectric for the film capacitors are
Polypropylene, Polyethylene naphthalate, Polyester, Polyphenylene sulfideand
Polytetrafluoroethylene. Film type capacitors are in the market with capacitance value ranges
from 5pF to 100uF .Film Film capacitors also available in different shapes and different styles
which include,

 Wrap & Fill (Oval and Round) type: In this type the capacitor ends are sealed with epoxy and
the capacitor is wrapped in a tight plastic tape.
 Epoxy Case (Rectangular & Round): In this type capacitors are encased in a moulded plastic
shell and it is filled with epoxy.
 Metal Hermetically Sealed (Rectangular & Round): These types of capacitors are encased in a
metal tube or can, and sealed with epoxy.

In present days the above all case style capacitors are available in both the types Radial and
Axial Leads. The main advantage of the plastic film capacitors is that, they operate well and
good at high temperatures when compared to other paper types.

These capacitors have small tolerance, high reliability and also they have very long service life.
Examples of film type capacitors are cylindrical film, rectangular metalized film and foil film
types. They are given below.
Axial Lead Type:

Radial Lead Type:

These film types of capacitors require much thicker dielectric material in order to avoid the
punctures and tears in the dielectric film. Hence these are suited for low capacitance value and
large sizes.

Film power capacitors

Film power capacitors are also called as Power film capacitors.The construction techniques and
materials which are used for large power film capacitors are usually similar to those of the
ordinary film capacitors. However these capacitors with high power ratings are used in the
applications of power systems and electrical installations.

Power film capacitors are used in variety of applications. These capacitors serve as snubbing or
damping capacitors when connected a resistor in series with it. These are also used in close tuned
or low detuned filter circuits for filtering the harmonics and also used as pulse discharge
capacitors.

Ceramic Capacitors

Ceramic capacitors are also called as “Disc-capacitors”. Like electrolytic, these are also the
mostly used type of capacitors. A ceramic capacitor is constructed with two or more alternating
layers of ceramic and a metal.Here the ceramic acts as its dielectric and metal acts as its
electrodes. These ceramic capacitors are non-polarised fixed type capacitors. Generally the
electrical behavior of the ceramic material can be divided into two classes related to its stability.
They are given and explained below.

 Class 1: ceramic capacitors with high stability and low losses for compensating the influence of
temperature in resonant circuit applications.
 Class 2: These types of capacitors offer high volumetric efficiency for buffer by pass and coupling
applications.

Ceramic types of capacitors are normally having a 3-digit number coded on their body to identify
the capacitance value generally in pico-farads (pF). In that the first two digits are used to indicate
the capacitors value and the third digit indicates the number of zeros to be added.

For example a ceramic capacitor with the markings 153 would indicate 15 and 3 zero’s in pico-
farads which is equivalent to 15 , 000 pF or 15nF.
Polypropylene Capacitor

Polypropylene capacitor is one of the many varieties of film type capacitors. Polypropylene
capacitors are the capacitors that have a polypropylene film as their dielectric. Polypropylene
capacitors are available within the capacitance ranges from 100 pf to 10µF.

The main feature of Polypropylene Capacitor is high working voltages up to 3000 V. This
feature makes polypropylene (pp) capacitors useful in circuits in which operating voltages are
typically very high, such as power amplifiers particularly valve amplifiers, power supply circuits
and TV circuits. Polypropylene capacitors are used when a better tolerance is needed than what a
polyester capacitor can provide.

Polypropylene capacitors are also used in coupling and storage applications due to their high
isolation resistance values. And also they have stable capacitance values for frequencies below
100KHZ. These polypropylene capacitors are used in the applications where we need to perform
the tasks of noise suppression, coupling, filtering timing, blocking, bypassing, and handling
pulses.

Polycarbonate capacitor

Polycarbonate capacitors are the capacitors that have a polycarbonate material as its dielectric.
These types of capacitors are available within the capacitance range of 100pF to 10µF and have
the working voltages up to 400V DC. These polycarbonate capacitors can operate with a
temperature range of -55°C to +125°C without de-rating.

These capacitors have very good temperature coefficients, due to these reason polycarbonate
capacitors are preferable. These capacitors are not used in the high-precision applications
because of their high tolerance levels of 5% to 10%. The polycarbonate capacitors are also used
for AC applications. Sometimes they are also found in switching power supplies.

Silver Mica Capacitor

Silver Mica Capacitors are capacitors that are made from depositing a thin layer of silver on a
mica material as its dielectric.The reason for the use of silver mica capacitors is that their high
performances compared to any other type of capacitors.

Silver mica capacitors can be obtained with the tolerance of +/- 1%. This is much better than any
other type of capacitor which is available in today’s market. The temperature co-efficient of
silver mica capacitors is much better than other types of capacitors.

And this value is positive and it is normally in the region of 35 to 75 ppm / C, with an average
value of +50 ppm / C. Capacitance values for silver mica capacitors are normally in the range
between a few pico-farads to 3300 pico -farads.Silver mica capacitors have very high levels of Q
and also have small power factors. The silver mica capacitors have the voltage range between
100V to 1000 V.

Silver mica capacitors are used in RF oscillators.The silver mica capacitors are not used in
coupling and decoupling applications because of their high cost. Due to their size, cost and also
the improvements in other types of capacitors these are not used nowadays.
Electrolytic Capacitors

Electrolytic Capacitors are generally used in the applications where very large capacitance values
are required. The electrolytic capacitors have a metallic anode covered with an oxidized layer
generally used as its dielectric. Another electrode of a capacitor is a non-solid or solid
electrolyte.

Most of the electrolytic capacitors are polarized. These capacitors are categorized according to
their dielectric material. Mainly these are categorized in to three classes, they are given as

 Aluminium electrolytic capacitors: Here aluminium acts as its dielectric.


 Tantalum electrolytic capacitors: Here tantalum pent oxide acts as its dielectric.
 Niobium electrolytic capacitors:Here niobium pent oxide acts as its dielectric

Usually the permittivity of tantalum pent oxide is almost three times greater than the permittivity
of aluminum dioxide, but this permittivity determines only the dimensions. Generally three types
of electrolytes are used.They are as follows:

 Non solid (wet or liquid): These capacitors have the conductivity nearly 10ms/cm and these are
available with low cost.
 Solid manganese oxide: These capacitors have the conductivity nearly 100ms/cm and also have
high quality and stability.
 Solid conductive polymer: These type of capacitors have conductivity approximately 10000
ms/cm and also the ESR values of <10mΩ.

Electrolytic Capacitors are generally used in direct (DC) power supply circuits. These are also
used in the applications of coupling and decoupling to reduce ripple voltage, due to their large
capacitance values and their small size. One of the main disadvantages of electrolytic capacitors
is their low voltage ratings.
Electrolytic Capacitor Diagram

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

Aluminum Capacitors are capacitors that are made of oxide film on aluminum foils with a strip
of absorbent paper between them which is soaked in an electrolyte solution and all these design
can be sealed in a can. Basically there are two types of Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors they
are plain foil type and etched foil type.

Plain foil type electrolytic capacitors are mainly used as smoothing capacitors in power supply
circuits while etched foil type capacitors used in coupling DC blocking and by pass circuits.

Electrolytic aluminum capacitors cover the capacitance range of1uF to 47000uF and large
tolerance of 20%. The working voltage ratings range up to 500V.These are cheaper and easily
available in the market.

The capacitance value and voltage ratings are either printed in uF’s or coded by a letter followed
by three digits. These three digits represent the capacitance value in pF where first two digits
represent the number and the third one is the multiplier digit.
Tantalum Electrolytic Capacitors

Tantalum Capacitors are capacitors that are made of tantalum pent oxide as its dielectric
material. Tantalum electrolytic capacitors are also polarised capacitors like aluminum
capacitors.Tantalum electrolytic capacitors are obtained in both the types of wet (foil) and dry
(solid).

The second terminal of tantalum electrolytic capacitors is smaller than the terminal of equivalent
aluminum capacitors and that terminal is made with manganese dioxide.

The main advantage of Tantalum Electrolytic Capacitorsover aluminum capacitors is that they
are more stable, lighter and smaller. They have capacitance values range from 47nF to 470uF
and maximum working voltage up to 50V.These are costlier than aluminum electrolytes.

The properties of the tantalum oxide dielectric are low leakage current and better capacitance
stability. These properties oftantalum oxide dielectric cause to use them in blocking, by-passing,
decoupling, filtering and timing applications. And also these properties are much better than the
dielectric of aluminum oxide.

Super-capacitors

The super- capacitor is also known as ultra-capacitor or electric double-layer capacitor. These
capacitors are made with a thin electrolyte separator which is flanked with activated carbon ions.
It differs from a regular capacitor,the capacitance value of a super capacitor is very high and it is
in order of milli farads with the voltage ranges of 2.3V to 2.75V.

Super capacitors are categorized into three types based on their electrode design they are

 Double-layer capacitors: These capacitors have carbon electrodes or their derivatives.


 Pseudo capacitors: These capacitors have metal oxide or conducting polymer electrodes.
 Hybrid capacitors: These capacitors have asymmetric electrodes.

Super capacitors are mainly used in the applications, where very high number of
charge/discharge cycles is needed, where long lifetime is required and where the large amount of
power is needed within a short time.The typical applications range of super capacitors are from
milliamp current and milli-watts of power with a duration of few minutes to several amps current
and several kilo watts power within a shorter period. These super capacitors are generally used as
temporary power source, as a replacement of batteries.

Capacitor Characteristics
Introduction

A capacitor has large number of specifications and characteristics. By observing the information
printed on the body of a capacitor, we can understand very well about the characteristics of a
capacitor. But some capacitors have colors or numeric codes on their body, due to this it is
difficult to understand about characteristics. Each type or family of capacitor has its own set of
characteristics and identification system. Some capacitors identification systems are easy to
understand their characteristics and others use misleading symbols, letters and colors.

To understand the characteristics of a particular capacitor easily, first find out the capacitor
family whether it is ceramic, plastic, film or electrolytic and from that it is easy to identify the
characteristics.Even though capacitors have same capacitance value they may have different
working voltages. If you use a capacitor which has low working voltage in place of a capacitor
which has high working voltage then the increased voltage may damage the low voltage
capacitor even though both capacitors have same capacitance.

Already we know that electrolytic capacitor has polarities, so while connecting the electrolytic
capacitor in the circuit, positive terminal must connect to the positive connection and negative
terminal of capacitor to negative connection otherwise the capacitor may damage. So it is always
better to replace the damaged or old capacitor in the circuit with the new one which has same
characteristics.The figure below figure shows the characteristics of a capacitor.

A capacitor comes with a set of characteristics. All these characteristics can be found in
datasheets that are provided by capacitor manufacturers. Now let us discuss some of them.

Nominal Capacitance (C)

One of the most important one among all capacitor characteristics is the nominal capacitance (C)
of a capacitor.This nominal capacitance value is generally measured in pico-farads (pF), nano-
farads (nF) or micro-farads (uF), and this value is indicated with colors, numbers or letters on the
body of a capacitor. This nominal capacitance value, which is printed on the side of a capacitor
body, is not necessary to equal to its actual value.

The nominal capacitance value may change with working temperatures and with the circuit
frequency. These nominal values are as low as one pico-farad (1pF) for smaller ceramic
capacitors and as high as one farad (1F) for electrolytic capacitors. All capacitors have a
tolerance rating that ranges from -20% to +80%.

Working Voltage (WV)

The working voltage is one more important characteristic of all capacitor characteristics. The
maximum amount of voltage which is applied to a capacitor without failure during its working
life is called as working voltage (WV). This working voltage is expressed in terms of DC and
also it is printed on the body of a capacitor.

Generally working voltage which is printed on the body of a capacitor , refers its DC voltage but
not its AC voltage , because the AC voltage is in its rms value.So capacitor working voltage
must be greater than the 1.414 (Vm = Vrms x√2) times of its actual AC value to apply AC
voltage to the capacitor. This specified DC working voltage of a capacitor(WV-DC) is valid only
within in a certain temperature range, such as -300C to +700C. If you apply a DC or AC voltage
which is greater than the working voltage of a capacitor then the capacitor may damage.
The working voltages which are commonly printed on the body of a capacitor are 10V,
16V,25V, 35V, 50V, 63V, 100V, 160V, 250V, 400V and also 1000V. All the capacitors will
have a longer working life if they operated within their rated voltage values and in a cool
environment.

Tolerance (±%)

Tolerance is the permissible relative deviation of the capacitance from the rated value, which is
expressed in per cent. Like resistors, the tolerance value for capacitor also exists in either plus or
minus values. This tolerance value is generally measured in either pico-farads (+/-pF) for low
value capacitors which are less than 100pF or in percentages (+/-%) for higher value capacitors,
which are greater than 100pF.

The tolerance value of a capacitor is measured at a temperature of +20°C and it is valid only at
the time of its delivery. If a capacitor may be used after a longer period of storage then the
tolerance value will increase, but according to the standard specifications, this value will not
exceed twice the value which is measured at the time of its delivery. The delivery tolerances
usually for wound capacitors are +/-(1%,2.5%,5%,10%,20%). The very general tolerance values
variation for capacitors is 5% or 10%, and this is rated as low as +/-1% for plastic capacitors.

Leakage Current (LC)

All dielectric materials which are used in the capacitors to separate the metal plates of capacitors
are not perfect insulators. They allow the small amount of current, such as leakage current to
flows through it. This effect is because of the high powerful electric field which is formed by the
charge particles on the plates of a capacitor when supply voltage (V) is applied to it.

The leakage current of a capacitor is a small amount of DC current which is in nano-amps (nA).
This is because of the flowing of electrons through the dielectric material or around its edges and
also by discharging it overtime when the power supply removed.

Leakage current is defined as transferring of unwanted energy from one circuit to another circuit.
One more definition is the leakage current is a current when ideal current of the circuit is zero.
Capacitors leakage current is a considerable factor in amplifier coupling circuits and in power
supply circuits.

The leakage current is very low in film or foil type capacitors and it is very high (5-20 uA per
uF) in electrolytic (tantalum and aluminium) type capacitors, where their capacitance values are
also high.

Working Temperature

The capacitance value of a capacitor varies with the changes in temperature which is surrounded
the capacitor. Because the changes in temperature,causes to change in the properties of the
dielectric. Working Temperature is the temperature of a capacitor which operates with nominal
voltage ratings. The general working temperatures range for most capacitors is -30°C to +125°C.
In plastic type capacitors this temperature value is not more than +700C.
The capacitance value of a capacitor may change, if air or the surrounding temperature of a
capacitor is too cool or too hot. These changes in temperature will cause to affect the actual
circuit operation and also damage the other components in that circuit.I think it is not a simple
thing to keep the temperatures stable to avoid capacitors from frying.

The liquids within the dielectric can be lost to evaporation especially in electrolytic capacitors
(aluminum electrolytic capacitors) when they will operate at high temperatures (over +850C)and
also the body of the capacitor would become damaged due to the leakage current and internal
pressure. And also the electrolytic capacitors cannot be used at low temperatures, such as below -
100C.

Temperature Coefficient

The temperature coefficient (TC) of a capacitor describes the maximum change in the
capacitance value with a specified temperature range. Generally the capacitance value which is
printed on the body of a capacitor is measured with the reference of temperature 250C and also
the TC of a capacitor which is mentioned in the datasheet must be considered for the applications
which are operated below or above this temperature.Generally the temperature coefficient is
expressed in the units of parts per million per degree centigrade (PPM/0C) or as a percent change
with a particular range of temperatures.

Some capacitors are linear (class 1 capacitors), these are highly stable with temperatures; such
capacitors have a zero temperature coefficient. Generally Mica or Polyester capacitors are
examples for the Class 1 capacitors. TC specification for class 1 capacitors will always specifies
the capacitance change in parts per million (PPM) per degrees centigrade.

Some capacitors are non linear (class 2 capacitors), these capacitors temperatures are not stable
like class1 capacitors, and their capacitance values will increase by increasing the temperature
values, Hencethesecapacitors gives a positive temperature coefficient. The main advantage of the
class 2 capacitors is their volumetric efficiency. These capacitors are mainly used in the
applications where high capacitance values are required, while stability and quality factor with
temperatures are not main factors to consider. The Temperature Coefficient (TC) of class 2
capacitors is expressed directly in percentage. One of the useful applications of temperature
coefficient of capacitors is to use them to cancel out the effect of temperature on other
components within a circuit such as resistors or inductors etc.

Polarization

Generally the capacitor polarization belongs to the electrolytic type capacitors, such as aluminum
type and tantalum type of capacitors. Majority of the electrolytic capacitors are polarized, that is
it needs correct polarity when supply voltage is connecting to the capacitor terminals, such as
positive (+ve) terminal to positive (+ve) connection and negative (-ve) to negative (-ve)
connection.

The oxide layer inside the capacitor may broken by incorrect polarization, this causes to flow of
high currents through the device. As a result capacitor damages as mentioned earlier. To prevent
incorrect polarization the majority of electrolytic capacitors have arrows or black stripe or band
or chevrons on one side of their body to denote their negative (-ve) terminals as shown in the
below figure.

Polarized capacitors have large leakage currents if their supply voltage is inverted. The leakage
current in polarized capacitors distort the signal, over heats the capacitor and finally destroys.
The basic reason to use polarized capacitors is their less cost than non-polarized capacitors of
same voltage ratings and same capacitance values. Basically the polarized capacitors are
available in the units of micro-farads, such as 1uF, 10uF etc.

Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR)

The equivalent series resistance (ESR) of a capacitor is defined as the AC impedance of a


capacitor when it usedat very high frequencies and also with the consideration of dielectric
resistance. Both the DC resistance of dielectric and the capacitor plate’s resistance are measured
at a particular temperatures and frequency.

ESR acts like a resistor in series with a capacitor. The ESR of a capacitor is the rating of its
quality. We know that theoretically a perfect capacitor is lossless and also have the ESR value
zero. Often this resistance (ESR)causes to failures in the capacitor circuits.

The Effects of Equivalent Series Resistance

The equivalent series resistance (ESR) of the output capacitor in the circuit causes to affect the
performance of the device. And also the ESR may reduce the supply voltage of a capacitor. The
ESR is quite opposite to the insulation resistance of a capacitor which is presented as pure
resistance in parallel with the capacitor in some type of capacitors. An ideal capacitor has only
its capacitance and ESR value is very less (less than 0.1Ω).

If the dielectric thickness increases then the ESR will increase. If the surface area of the plate
increases then the ESR value will go down. To calculate capacitor’s ESR, we requires something
other than a standard capacitor meter such as ESR meter. If the capacitor meter is a handy device
then it will not detect capacitor failures which increase the ESR value.
In a non-electrolytic capacitor or a capacitor with solid electrolyte the metallic resistance of
leads, electrodes and losses in the dielectric are causes to ESR. Generally the ESR values for
ceramic capacitors are in between 0.01 to0.1 ohms. Aluminium and tantalum electrolytic
capacitors with non solid electrolyte have very high ESR values, such as several ohms. A main
problem with aluminium electrolytic capacitors is that, the circuit components will damage if the
ESR values of the capacitors which are used in that circuit increases over time in the operation.

Generally the ESR values are less for polymer capacitors than electrolytic (wet) capacitors of
same value. Thus the polymer capacitors can handle the higher ripple currents. A capacitor can
be used as a filter which having a very low ESR ratings. Capacitors have the ability of storing the
electrical charge even though the charging current is not flowing through it. The capacitors used
in the televisions, photo flashes and capacitor banks are generally of electrolytic type capacitors.
According to the thumb rule the leads of large value capacitors are need to never touch after
power supply was removed.

Capacitance and Charge


Capacitance

Capacitance of a capacitor is defined as the ability of a capacitor to store the maximum electrical
charge (Q) in its body. Here the charge is stored in the form of electrostatic energy. The
capacitance is measured in the basicSI units i.e. Farads. These units may be in micro-farads,
nano-farads, pico-farads or in farads. The expression for the capacitance is given by,

C = Q/V = εA/d = ε0 εr A/d

In the above equation

C is the capacitance,

Q is the charge,

V is the potential difference between the plates,

A is the area between the plates,

d is the distance between the plates.

ε permittivity of dielectric

ε0 permittivity free space

εr relative permittivity of free space


Self-capacitance

Self-capacitance property is related to the capacitors especially to the isolated conductors. As the
name indicates the capacitance is property in an isolated conductor to raise its potential
difference to one volt .Generally normal conductors will have mutual capacitance. This is also
measured in the S.I units i.e. Farads.

The self-capacitance of a conducting sphere which has the radius ‘R’ is given by,

C=4 πɛoR

Self-capacitance values of some standard devices are given below.

 For the top plate of a van de Graff generator which is having radius of 20 cm self capacitance is
22.24 pF.
 For the planet EARTH self capacitance is 710 uF.

Stray capacitance

Stray capacitance is the unwanted capacitance.The capacitors introduce some capacitance in


circuit. But the components like resistors,inductors, even wire will have some capacitance. This
is called stray capacitance. Generally at high frequencies this will introduce noise to the circuit.
This undesired capacitance is small unless the conductors are close together for long distances or
for a large area.

The stray capacitance cannot be eliminated completely but it can be reduced. Circuit designers
should take care of stray capacitance while designing the circuit. The separation between the
components and the lines should be maintained in order to reduce the unwanted capacitance.

It is also measured in S.I units i.e. Farads.

Examples are capacitance between the turns of the coil, capacitance between two adjacent
conductors.

Capacitance of simple systems

Calculation of the capacitance is nothing but solving the Laplace theorem ∇ 2φ = 0 with a
constant potential on the surface of a capacitor. The capacitance values and equations for some
simple systems are given below.
Charge on a Capacitor

The ability of a capacitor to store maximum charge (Q) on its metal plates is called its
capacitance value (C). The polarity of stored charge can beeither negative or positive.Such as
positive charge (+ve) on one plate and negative charge (-ve) on another plate of the capacitor.
The expressions for charge, capacitance and voltage are given below.

C = Q/V, Q = CV, V = Q/C

Thus charge of a capacitor is directly proportional to its capacitance value and the potential
difference between the plates of a capacitor.Charge is measured in coulombs.

One coulomb:

One coulomb of charge on a capacitor can be defined as one farad of capacitance between two
conductors which operate with a voltage of one volt.

With Air as its dielectric

The charge ‘Q’ stored in the capacitor having capacitance C, potential difference ‘V’and the air
as its dielectric is given by,

Q =C V =(ε× (A ×V)) /d

With a Solid as its dielectric

The charge ‘Q’ of a capacitor having a solid as its dielectric is given by,

Q =C V =(ε0 ×εr× (A ×V)) /d

Here

ε0 is the permittivity of the free space,

εr is the relative permittivity of the dielectric material and

εis the permittivity of the dielectric material.

From the above two cases we can observe

The charge of a capacitor is directly proportional to the area of the plates, permittivity of the
dielectric material between the plates and it is inversely proportional to the separation distance
between the plates.

Thus larger the area of the plates more is the charge and greater the distance of separation
between the plates lesser the charge on the capacitor.
Parallel Plate Capacitor

The above figure shows the parallel plate capacitor circuit. As we know,thecapacitance is
directly proportional to the area of the plates (A) and inversely proportional to the separation
distance (d) between two metal plates. The capacitance value of a parallel plate capacitor is given
by,

C = k ε0A/d

Here k is the dielectric constant, and ε0 is the permittivity of the free space and it is equal to the
8.854 X 10 -12 F/m. The dielectric constant (k) is a parameter related to dielectric material which
increases the capacitancecompared to air. Larger surface area of the plates greater is the
capacitance value and larger separation distance lower is thecapacitance.One more example for
the parallel plate capacitor circuit is show in the below figure.
Capacitance Example No1

Now we will calculate the capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor in pico-farads which is having
the surface area of the plates is 200 cm2 and they are separated by the distance of 0.4 cm, and air
as its dielectric material.

We know the equation for the capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor is,

C = εA/d

Here ε = 8.854 X 10-12F/m

A = 200 cm2 = 0.02 m2

D = 0.4 cm = 0.004m

Now we substitute these values in the above equation,

C = 8.854 X 10-12 * (0.02 m2/0.004m) = 44.27 pF

Here the capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor is 44.27 pF

Charging & Discharging of a Capacitor

The below circuit is used to explain the charging and discharging characteristics of a capacitor.
Let us assume that the capacitor, which is shown in the circuit, is fully discharged. In this circuit
the capacitor value is 100uF and the supply voltage applied to this circuit is 12V.

Now the switch which is connected to the capacitor in the circuit is moved to the point A. Then
the capacitor starts charging with the charging current (i) and also this capacitor is fully charged.
The charging voltage across the capacitor is equal to the supply voltage when the capacitor is
fully charged i.e. VS = VC = 12V. When the capacitor is fully charged means that the capacitor
maintains the constant voltage charge even if the supply voltage is disconnected from the circuit.

In the case of ideal capacitors the charge remains constant on the capacitor but in the case of
general capacitors the fully charged capacitor is slowly discharged because of its leakage current.
When the switch is moved to the position B, then the capacitor slowly discharges by switching
on the lamp which is connected in the circuit. Finally it is fully discharged to zero. The lamp
glows brightly initially when the capacitor is fully charged, but the brightness of the lamp
decreases as the charge in the capacitor decreases.

Capacitor Charge Example No2

Now let us calculate the charge of a capacitor in the above circuit,we know that, the equation for
the charge of a capacitor is

Q = CV

Here, C = 100uF

V = 12V

Now we substitute these values in the above equation,

Q = 100uF * 12V = 1.2mC

Hence the charge of capacitor in the above circuit is 1.2mC.

Current through a Capacitor

The current (i) flowing through any electrical circuit is the rate of charge (Q) flowing through it
with respect to time. But the charge of a capacitor is directly proportional to the voltage applied
through it. The relation between the charge, current and voltage of a capacitor is given in the
below equation.

I (t) = d Q(t)/dt = C dV(t)/dt

We know that

Q = CV

V = Q/C

V (t) = Q(t)/C

Q(t) =C V(t)

The current to voltage relation is given by, I (t) = C dV(t)/dt

From this relation we observed that the current flowing through the capacitor in the circuit is the
product of the capacitance and the rate of change of voltage applied to the circuit. The current
flowing through the capacitor is directly proportional to the capacitance of a capacitor and the
rate of voltage.
Larger the current, higher is the capacitance of the circuit and higher the applied voltage,larger
the current flowing through the circuit. If voltage is constant then charge is also constant.Thus
there is no flow of charge. Hence the current flowing through the circuit will become zero.

Unit of capacitance (Farad)

Josiah Latimer Clark in the year of 1861first used the termFarad. Farad is a standard unit of the
capacitance. This is an extremely a large unit for the capacitance.

One farad of capacitance is defined as the capacitance with one coulomb of charge which
operates at the voltage of one volt.

C = Q/V

1Farad = 1Coluomb/1Volt

Now capacitors are available with large capacitance values of hundreds of farads. These
capacitors with high capacitance values are called as “super capacitors”. These capacitors are
utilizing large surface area to deliver high energy because these have high capacitance values.

At low voltage, super capacitors have the ability to store high energy with high capacitance
values. These high energy super capacitors are used in hand held portable devices to replace
large, heavy and expensive lithium type capacitors, because they store high energy, like batteries.
These capacitors are also used in audio and video systems in vehicles by replacing the high
batteries.

Sub-units of the Farad

The standard unit of capacitance is farad. But this is generally a large unit for the measurement
of capacitance. This farad has some sub units; they are micro-farads (uF), nano-farads (nF) and
pico-farads (pF).

The relation between these all sub-units with farad are

1micro-Farad (uF) = (1/1000000) F = 10-6 F

1nano-Farad (uF) = (1/1000000000) F = 10-9 F

1pico-Farad (uF) = (1/1000000000000) F = 10-12 F

Now we will see the some conversions between the sub-units of capacitance,

(i) conversion of 33pF to nF => 33pF = 0.033nF

(ii) conversion of 22nF to uF => 22nF = 0.022uF

(iii) conversion of 11uF to F => 11uF = 0.11F


Energy in a Capacitor

Energy is the amount of some work against the electro-static field to charge the capacitor fully.
In the capacitor at initial stage of charging, the charge Q transferred between the plates from one
plate to another plate. This charge either +Q or –Q is interchanged between two plates of a
capacitor. After transformation of some charge an electric field is formed between the plates, in
that case we need some extra work to charge the capacitor fully. This extra work is called as the
energy stored in a capacitor. The energy is measured in the units of Joules (J). Now we see the
equations for this energy and work.

dW = V dQ

dW = (Q/C) dQ

After integration of the above equation is,

W = Q2/2C

W = (CV)2/2C

W= CV2/2 Joules

Finally we get the energy stored in a capacitor is

Energy (W) = CV2/2 Joules

Now we calculate the energy stored in a capacitor of capacitance 200 uF which operate with
voltage of 12V.

W = CV2/2

W = (200×10-6×122)/2 = 14.4 m J

How To Read Capacitor Value?


In the previous tutorials, we have seen what is capacitance and charge?. In this tutorial we are
going to learn how to read the capacitor value?. For some applications, it is necessary to know
the tolerance and voltage values of the capacitor along with the capacitance. All these parameters
are represented on the body of the capacitor.

Different types of capacitors have different ways of representing the capacitance values .
Capacitors like electrolytic capacitors, non- polarised capacitors, large ac oil filled paper
capacitors have capacitance and voltage, tolerance values written on its body using numbers and
letters.Some capacitors have values represented using color code. Let us see how to read
capacitance value in these two methods.
How to read capacitor value written on capacitors??

Let us see how to read the capacitor values with numbers and alphabets. Along with the
capacitance other values like tolerance and voltage were written on the capacitor itself if there is
enough space. But for small capacitors like ceramic capacitors , as the space is not enough ,
capacitor values are represented using shorthand notation.

Reading capacitor values on Large capacitor(cylindrical capacitors)

For large capacitors, generally capacitor value is written on the side of the capacitor.

 The above figure shows a 22 micro farad capacitor .Capacitance value is expressed in
Farads (F or FD).
 Here are the units used for representing capacitor value .Micro farad (uf,µf,mF (or) MF) ,
Nano farad ( nF ), Pico farad(pF).

 Voltage rating on the capacitor indicates the maximum value voltage that capacitor can
handle.Voltage rating on the capacitor is indicated by V, VDC, and VDCW.
 VAC represents that capacitor is designed for AC circuit.
 It is to be noted that DC rating capacitors should not be used for AC unless you have proper
knowledge to use that capacitor. Some capacitors have voltages represented in codes instead of
value.
 Tolerance value is indicated using % symbol before the number. Tolerance value represents the
variation of capacitance value .

Reading the values of small capacitors(ceramic capacitors)

Ceramic capacitors have very small area to print the value of capacitance. So capacitance on
these capacitors is represented using short hand notation. Let us see how to calculate these
values. Generally capacitance of ceramic, tantalum ,film capacitors is expressed in Pico Farad.

Step 1: If the capacitor has two numerical values.

 If the notation on the capacitor has 2 digits and a letter (like 22M) ,then it has capacitance value
of 22.
Some capacitors have letters in the second position and numerical value in first position.
Ex: 5R2 = 5.2PF.
 In place of R if the letters like p, n, u are present then they represent units of capacitance.
Ex: 4n1 = 4.1nF, p45=0.45pF

Step 2:Some of them have three numerical values.

 Capacitor shown above has notation 104 on it.


 Capacitance is calculated as 10x 104 = 105pf = 0.1uf
 If the third digit is between 0 to 6 follow the above procedure.
 If it is 8 multiply it by using 0.01.for example 158 =15×0.01 = 0.15pF
 If it is 9 multiply it by using 0.1.For example 159 =15×0.1 =1.5pF

Tolerance

The tolerance value for these capacitors is represented using single letter.Each letter has a value.

A ±0.05 pF

B ±0.1 pF

C ±0.25 pF
D ±0.5 pF

E ±0.5%

F ±1%

G ±2%

H ±3%

J ±5 %

K ±10%

L ±15%

M ±20%

N ±30%

P –0%, + 100%

S –20%, + 50%

W –0%, + 200%

X –20%, + 40%

Z –20%, + 80%

How to read Capacitor Color Coding?

 Color coding of capacitors is an age old technique. But some of these capacitors are still in use
today. So let us see how to calculate the value of capacitance and voltage rating if they are
represented using color coding.
 Generally color codes are indicated using Dots or Bands. For Mica capacitors color coding is
shown in Dots while for tubular capacitors it may be shown using bands. The number of dots or
bands on a capacitor may vary from one another .

Below two tables shows the values of colors given on the capacitors.

Capacitance Color Code Table

Band Digit Digit Multiplier Tolerance Tolerance


Color A B D (T) > 10pf (T) < 10pf

Black A 0 x1 ±20% ±2.0pF

Brown 1 1 x10 ±1% ±0.1pF

Red 2 2 x100 ±2% ±0.25pF

Orange 3 3 x1000 ±3%

Yellow 4 4 x10,000 ±4%

Green 5 5 x100,000 ±5% ±0.5pF

Blue 6 6 x1,000,000

Violet 7 7

Grey 8 8 x0.01 +80 ,-20%

White 9 9 x0.1 ±10% ±1.0pF

Gold x0.1 ±5%

Silver x0.01 ±10%

Capacitor Voltage Color Code

Colour Type TypeK TypeL TypeM TypeN

Black 4 100 – 10 10
Brown 6 200 100 1.6 –

Red 10 300 250 4 35

Orange 15 400 – 40 –

Yellow 20 500 400 6.3 6

Green 25 600 16 15

Blue 35 700 630 – 20

Violet 50 800 – – –

Grey – 900 – 25 25

White 3 1000 – 2.5 3

Gold – 2000 – – –

Silver – – – – –

Let us see an example of ceramic or disc capacitor for calculating the color code on it.
Disc & Ceramic Capacitor

These colour codes are used from many years for non-polarized capacitors like disc and ceramic
capacitors. But it is difficult to identify the values in the case of old capacitors. So these old
capacitors are now replaced with new numbers.

Capacitors in Series and Parallel


Capacitors are the standard components in electronic circuits. Different combinations of
capacitors are used in circuits practically.This article explains about series and parallel
combinations of capacitors.

Capacitors in series
How to connect capacitors in Series?

Capacitors in series means two or more capacitors connected in a single line. Positive plate of the
one capacitor is connected to the negative plate of the next capacitor.
Here,

QT =Q1 = Q2 = Q3 = ———- = Q

IC = I1 = I2 = I3 = ——— = IN

When the capacitors are connected in series Charge and current is same on all the capacitors.

Why is the charge of capacitors in series the same?

For series capacitors same quantity of electrons will flow through each capacitor because the
charge on each plate is coming from the adjacent plate. So, coulomb charge is same.As current is
nothing but flow of electrons , current is also same.

What is the equivalent capacitance?

Equivalent capacitance is the overall capacitance of the capacitors. Let us see how to calculate
the capacitance when they are in series.

Below is the figure showing three capacitors connected in series to the battery. When the
capacitors are connected in series the adjacent plates get charged due to electrostatic induction.

Each plate will have different potential. But the magnitude of charge on the plates is same.

First plate of the C1 will have potential V1 which is equal to the voltage of the battery and
second plate will have potential less than V1. Let it be V2.

Now the first plate of C2 will have potential equal to V2 and second plate will have potential less
than V3 let it be V4.
First plate of C3 will have potential V5 (V5=V4) and the potential of second plate is less than
V5. Let it be V6.

But the overall potential difference between the plates is equal to the emf of the battery.

So VT = V1+V2+V3

But we know that, Q=CV

C=Q/V

Ceq = Q/V1 + Q/V2 + Q/V3 (As charge is same)

1/Ceq = (V1+ V2+ V3 )/Q

VT = Q/Ceq = Q/C1 + Q/C2 + Q/C3

Hence,1/Ceq = 1/C1 + 1/C2 + 1/C3

If N capacitors are connected in series then equivalent capacitance can be given as below.

1/Ceq = 1/C1 + 1/C2 +……… + 1/CN

Thus when the capacitors are in series connection, the reciprocal of the equivalent capacitance is
equal to the sum of the reciprocals of the individual capacitance of the capacitors in the circuit.

Capacitors in Series Example

Calculate the equivalent capacitance and the individual voltage drops across the set of two
capacitors in series have 0.1uF and 0.2uF respectively when connected to a 12V a.c. supply.

Equivalent capacitance,

1/Ceq = 1/C1 + 1/C2

Ceq = (C1C2) / (C1 + C2)

Ceq = (0.1uF*0.2uF) / (0.1uF+0.2uF)

Ceq = 0.066uF = 66nF

Voltage drops across the two given capacitors in series are,

V1 = (C2*VT)/ (C1+C2) = (0.2uF*12V)/ (0.1uF+0.2uF) = 8Volts

V2 = (C1*VT)/ (C1+C2) = (0.1uF*12V)/ (0.1uF+0.2uF) = 4Volts


From these results we observed that the equivalent capacitance 66nF is less than the smallest
capacitance 0.1uF of the given two capacitors. The individual voltage drops across the given two
capacitors are different.

But the sum of individual voltage drops of both the capacitors is equal to the total voltage. i.e
8V+4V=12V.

Now we calculate the charge stored in individual capacitor,

Q1 = V1* C1 = 8V * 0.1uF = 0.8uC

Q2 = V2* C2 = 4V * 0.2uF = 0.8uC

Here we observed that equal charge 0.8uC is stored in both the capacitors C1 and C2 which are
connected in series.

Capacitors in Series Summary

• Charge on the capacitors is same in series connection.

• Equivalent capacitance of the capacitors is less than the smallest capacitance in series.

• Equivalent capacitance of n capacitors in series is given as

1/Ceq = 1/C1 + 1/C2 +……… + 1/CN

Capacitors in Parallel Circuits


Why do we connect capacitors in parallel?

There is an advantage of connecting capacitors in parallel than in series. When the capacitors are
connected in parallel the total capacitance value is increased. There are some applications where
higher capacitance values are required.

How to connect capacitors in Parallel?

Below figure shows the connection of capacitors in parallel. All the positive terminals are
connected to one point and negative terminals are connected to another point.
What is Equivalent capacitance of the capacitors in parallel?

 All the capacitors which are connected in parallel have the same voltage and is equal to the VT
applied between the input and output terminals of the circuit.
 Then, parallel capacitors have a ‘common voltage’ supply across them .i.e. VT = V1 = V2 etc.
 The equivalent capacitance, Ceq of the circuit where the capacitors are connected in parallel is
equal to the sum of all the individual capacitance of the capacitors added together.
 This is because the top plate of each capacitor in the circuit is connected to the top plate of
adjacent capacitors.In the same way the bottom plate of each capacitor in the circuit is
connected to the bottom plate of adjacent capacitors.

Let us see how to calculate the equivalent capacitance of capacitors when connected in
parallel.Consider two capacitors connected as shown in the below circuit.

The total charge (Q) across the circuit is divided between the two capacitors, means the charge Q
distributes itself between the capacitors connected in parallel. charge Q is equal to the sum of all
the individual capacitor charges.

Thus Q=Q1+Q2

Where Q1,Q2 are charges at capacitors C1 And C2.


We know that,

Q=Ceq VT

Here, Q = Q1+Q2

Ceq VT = C1xV1+C2xV2

Since VT = V1 = V2 = V

Ceq VT = C1xV+C2xV

Ceq VT = (C1+C2)V

Hence Ceq=C1+c2

If N capacitors are connected in parallel then Ceq=C1+C2+C3+——Cn

Thus equivalent capacitance of the capacitors which are connected in parallel is equal to the sum
of the individual capacitance of the capacitors in the circuit.

Capacitors in Parallel Example No1

Consider the capacitance values of the two capacitors C1 =0.2uF and C2 =0.3uF which are
shown in above figure 4. Now calculate the equivalent capacitance of the circuit.

We know that the Equivalent capacitance,

Ceq = C1 + C2

Ceq =0.2uF + 0.3uF

Ceq =0.5uF

One important point to remember about parallel connected capacitor circuits, the equivalent
capacitance (Ceq) of any two or more capacitors connected together in parallel will always be
greater than the value of the largest capacitor in the circuit as we are adding together values. So
in our example above Ceq =0.5uF whereas the largest value capacitor in the circuit is only 0.3uF.

When capacitors are connected in parallel?

Here are some applications where capacitors are connected in parallel.

 In some DC supplies for better filtering small capacitors with superior ripple factor are used.
These are connected in parallel to increase the capacitance value.
 This can be used in automotive industries in large vehicles like trams for regenerative braking.
These application may require large capacitance values than the capacitance usually available in
the market.
Capacitors in parallel Summary

 Voltage on the capacitors is same when connected in parallel. The equivalent voltage of the
parallel capacitors is equal to the smallest voltage rating capacitor in parallel.
 The overall capacitance value of the capacitors is sum of all the capacitance values connected in
parallel.
 Equivalent capacitance of n capacitors in parallel is Ceq=C1+C2+C3…Cn.

Capacitive Voltage Divider


Introduction

In a voltage divider circuit,the supply voltage or circuit voltage is distributed among all the
components in the circuit equally,depending on the capacity of those components.

The construction of capacitive voltage divider circuit is same as like resistive voltage divider
circuit. But like resistors, the capacitive voltage divider circuit is not affected by the changes in
the frequency even though it uses reactive elements.

The capacitor is a passive component which stores electrical energy in the metal plates. A
capacitor has two plates and these two are separated by non-conducting or insulating material,
such as called as “dielectric”.

Here the positive charge is stored on one plate and negative charge is stored on another plate.

When DC current is applied to the capacitor, it charges fully. The dielectric material between the
plates acts as insulator and also it opposes the current flow through the capacitor.

This opposition to supply current through the capacitor is called reactance (XC) of a capacitor.
The capacitor reactance is also measured in ohms.

A fully charged capacitor acts as an energy source, because a capacitor stores energy and
discharges it to the circuit components.

If an AC current is applied to the capacitor then the capacitor continuously charges and
discharges the current through its plates.In this time the capacitor also has reactance which varies
depends on supply frequency.

We know that the charge which is stored in the capacitor depends on the supply voltage and the
capacitance of a capacitor.

In the same way the reactance also depends on some parameters, now we see the parameters
which influence the reactance of a capacitor.

If a capacitor has smaller capacitance value , then the time required to charge a capacitor is less ,
i.e. smaller RC time constant is required. In the same way the RC time constant is high for larger
capacitance value of capacitors.
From this we observed that , larger capacitance value capacitor has less reactance value where
as smaller capacitance value of capacitor has larger reactance value. i.e. the reactance of a
capacitor is inversely proportional to the capacitance value of the capacitor.

XC∝ 1/C

If the frequency of applied current is low then the charging time of capacitor increases,it
indicates that reactance value is high. In the same way if the frequency of applied current is at
high, then the reactance of the capacitor is low.

From this we can observe that the reactance of a capacitor is inversely proportional to the
frequency.

Finally, we can say that, the reactance (XC) of any capacitor is inversely proportional to the
frequency (f) and the capacitance value (C).

XC∝ 1/f

Capacitive Reactance Formula

Already we know that the capacitive reactance is inversely proportional to the frequency and
capacitance value of the capacitor. Thus formula for reactance is

XC = 1/2πfC

Here,

XC = Reactance of a capacitor in ohms (Ω)

f = Frequency in Hertz’s (HZ)

C = Capacitance of a capacitor in Farads (F)

π = Numeric constant (22/7 = 3.142)

Voltage Distribution in Series Capacitors

If the capacitors are connected in series , the voltage distribution between the capacitors is
calculated. Because the capacitors have different voltage values depending on the capacitance
values in series connection.

The reactance of a capacitor which opposes the flow of current , depends on the value of
capacitance and frequency of the applied current.

So now let us see how the reactance affects the capacitors , by calculating the frequency and
capacitance values. Below circuit shows the capacitive voltage divider circuit in which 2
capacitors are connected in series.
[Read: Capacitors in Series ]

Capacitive Voltage Divider

The two capacitors which are connected in series have the capacitance values of 10uF and 22uF
respectively. Here the circuit voltage is 10V,this voltage is distributed between both capacitors.

In the series connection all the capacitors have same charge (Q) on it but the supply voltage (VS)
is not same for all capacitors.

The circuit voltage is shared by the capacitors depending on the capacitance values of the
capacitors.i.e. in the ratio of V = Q/C.

From these values we have to calculate the reactance (XC) of each capacitor by using frequency
and capacitance values of capacitors.

Capacitive Voltage Divider Example No1

Now we will calculate the voltage distribution to the capacitors 10uF and 22uF which are given
in the above figure which have 10V supply voltage with 40HZ frequency.

Reactance of 10uF capacitor,

XC1 = 1/2πfC1 = 1/(2*3.142*40*10*10-6) = 400Ω

Reactance of 22uF capacitor,

XC\2 = 1/2πfC2 = 1/(2*3.142*40*22*10-6) = 180Ω


Total capacitive reactance of a circuit is,

XC= XC1+ XC2= 400Ω + 180Ω = 580Ω

CT= C1C2/(C1+C2) = (10*22*10-12)/(32*10-6) = 6.88uF

XCT = 1/2πfCT = 1/(2*3.142*40*6.88*10-6) = 580Ω

The current in the circuit is,

I = V/XC = 10V/580Ω = 17.2mA

Now, the voltage drop across each capacitor is,

VC1 = I*XC1 = 17.2mA*400Ω = 6.9V

VC2 = I*XC2 =17.2mA*180Ω = 3.1V

Capacitive Voltage Divider Example No2

Now we calculate the voltage drops across the capacitors 10uF and 22uF which are connected in
series and they operate with 10V supply voltage of 4000HZ (4KHZ) frequency.

Reactance of 10uF capacitor,

XC1 = 1/2πfC1 = 1/(2*3.142*4000*10*10-6) = 4Ω

Reactance of 22uF capacitor,

XC\2 = 1/2πfC2 = 1/(2*3.142*4000*22*10-6) = 1.8Ω

Total capacitive reactance of a circuit is,

XC= XC1+ XC2 = 4Ω+1.8Ω = 5.8Ω

CT = C1C2/(C1+C2) = (10*22*10-12)/(32*10-6) = 6.88uF

XCT = 1/2πfCT = 1/(2*3.142*4000*6.88*10-6) = 5.8Ω

The current in the circuit is,

I = V/XCT = 10V/5.8Ω = 1.72A

Now, the voltage drop across each capacitor is,

VC1 = I*XC1 = 1.72A*4Ω = 6.9V

VC2 = I*XC2 = 1.72A*1.8Ω = 3.1V


From the above two examples we can conclude that the lower value capacitor (10uF) will charge
to a higher voltage (6.9V), and the higher value capacitor (22uF) will charge itself to a lower
voltage level(3.1V).

Finally the sum of two capacitor voltage drops values are equal to the supply voltage (i.e.
6.9V+3.1V=10V). These voltage values are same for all frequency values, because the voltage
drop is independent of frequency.

The voltage drops for the two capacitors is same in both the examples where the frequency is
different. The frequency is either 40HZ or 40KHZ the voltage drops across capacitors is same in
both cases.

The current flowing through the circuit changes depending on the frequency. Current will
increase with increasing the frequency, it is 17.2mA for 40HZ frequency but it is 1.72A for the
frequency 4KHZ, i.e. the current will increase almost 100 times by increasing frequency 4HZ to
4KHZ.

Finally we can say that the current flowing through the circuit is directly proportional to the
frequency (I α f).

Summary

 The opposition for the flow of current in the capacitor is known as reactance (XC) of a capacitor.
This capacitive reactance is influenced by the parameters like capacitance value,frequency of
supply voltage and also these values are inversely proportional to the reactance.
 The AC voltage divider circuit will distribute the supply voltage to all the capacitors depending
on their capacitance value.
 These voltage drops for the capacitors are same for any frequency of supply voltage. i.e. the
voltage drops across capacitors are independent on frequency.
 But the current flowing is depending on frequency and also these two are directly proportional
to each other.
 But in DC voltage divider circuits, it is not an easy task to calculate the voltage drops across
capacitors as it depends on reactance value, because the capacitors block DC current flow
through it after fully charged.
 The capacitive voltage divider circuits are used in large electronics applications.Mainly used in
capacitive sensitive screens those change their output voltage when it is touched by a person
finger.
 And also used in transformers to increase voltage drop where generally the mains transformer
contains low voltage drop chips and components.
 Finally one thing to say is in voltage divider circuit the voltage drops across capacitors are same
for all frequency values.

Capacitance in AC Circuits
Introduction

When DC supply voltage is applied to the capacitor,the capacitor is charged slowly and finally it
reaches to fully charged position. At this point the charging voltage of a capacitor is equal to the
supply voltage. Here the capacitor acts as an energy source as long as voltage is applied.
Capacitors don’t allow current (i) through them after they fully charged.The current flowing
through the circuit depends on the amount of charge in the plates of capacitors and also the
current is directly proportional to the rate of change of voltage applied to the circuit. i.e. i =
dQ/dt = C dV(t)/dt.

If AC supply voltage is applied to the capacitor circuit then the capacitor charges and discharges
continuously depending on the rate of frequency of supply voltage. The capacitance of a
capacitor in AC circuits depends on the frequency of supply voltage applied to it. In AC circuits
the capacitors allow current when the supply voltage is continuously changing with respect to
time.

AC Capacitor Circuit

In the above circuit we observed that a capacitor is directly connected to the AC supply voltage.
Here the capacitor continuously charges and discharges depending on the changes in supply
voltage, because the AC supply voltage value is constantly increases and decreases. We all know
that the current flowing through the circuit is directly proportional to the rate of change of
voltage applied.

Here the charging current has its high value, if the supply voltage crosses its value from positive
half cycle to the negative half cycle and vice versa. i.e. at 00 and 1800 in sine wave signal. The
current through the capacitor has its minimum value when the supply voltage in sine wave
crosses over at its maximum or minimum peak value (Vm). Hence we can say that the charging
current flowing through the circuit is maximum or minimum depending on the supply voltage
levels in sine wave.
AC Capacitor Phasor Diagram

The phasor diagram of AC capacitor is shown in the above figure, here the voltage and currents
are represented in sine wave forms. In the above figure we observed that at 00 the charging
current is at its maximum value because the voltage is increasing slowly in positive direction. At
900 there is no current flow through the capacitor because at this point the supply voltage is at its
maximum peak value.

At 1800 point the voltage slowly decreases to zero and current is at maximum value in the
negative direction. Again the charging reaches to its maximum value at 3600, because at this
point the supply voltage is at minimum value.

From the waveforms in the above figure we can see that, the current is leading the voltage by
900. Hence we can say that in an ideal capacitor circuit the AC voltage lags the current by 900.

Capacitive Reactance

We know that the current flowing through the capacitor is directly proportional the rate of
change of applied voltage but capacitors also offer some form of resistance against the current
flow same as like resistors. This resistance of capacitors in AC circuits is called as capacitive
reactance or commonly known as reactance. Capacitive reactance is the property of a capacitor
which opposes the flow of current in AC circuits. It is represented with symbol Xc and measured
in Ohms same as like resistance.

We need some extra energy over capacitive reactance to charge up a capacitor in the circuit. This
value is inversely proportional to the capacitance value and the frequency of supply voltage.

Xc∝ 1/c and Xc∝ 1/f.


The equation for capacitive reactance and parameters which influences them are discussed in
below.

Capacitive Reactance,

XC = 1/2πfC = 1/ωC

Here,

XC = Reactance of capacitor

f = frequency in HZ

C = Capacitance of a capacitor in Farads

ω (omega) = 2πf

From the above equation we understood that capacitive reactance is high where the frequency
and capacitance values are at low and at this stage the capacitor acts as a perfect resistor. If the
frequency of supply voltage is high then the reactance value of capacitor is low and also at this
stage capacitor acts as a good conductor. From the above equation it is clear that the reactance is
zero if the frequency is infinity and the reactance value is infinity where the frequency is at zero.

Capacitive Reactance against Frequency

The above figure shows the relation between the capacitive reactance, current and frequency of
the supply voltage. Here we observed that if frequency is low then the reactance is high. The
charging current increases with increase in frequency, because the rate of change of voltage
increases with time.The reactance is at infinite value where the frequency is zero and vice versa.
AC Capacitance Example No1

Find the rms value of current flowing through the circuit having 3uF capacitor connected to
660V and 40Hz supply.

Capacitive Reactance,

XC = 1/2πfC

Here,

f = 40HZ

C = 3uF

Vrms = 660V

Now,

XC = 1/(2 × 3.14 × 40HZ × 3 × 10-6) = 1326Ω

Irms = Vrms/XC = 660V/1326Ω = 497mA

AC Capacitance Example No2

Find the rms value of current flowing through the circuit having 5uF capacitor connected to
880V and 50Hz supply.

Capacitive Reactance,

XC = 1/2πfC

Here,

f = 50HZ

C = 5uF

Vrms = 880V

Now,

XC = 1/(2 × 3.14 × 50HZ × 5 × 10-6) = 636Ω

Irms = Vrms/XC = 880V/636Ω = 1.38 A

From the above two examples practically we observed that the reactance of a capacitor depends
on the frequency of the supply voltage and it is inversely proportional relation. In example 1 , the
reactance is 1326Ω for the frequency of 40HZ but the reactance value decreases to 636Ω when
the frequency increases to 50HZ which is shown in example 2.Hence it is clear that the reactance
of a capacitor is inversely proportional to the frequency and capacitance.

Applications of Capacitors
What is the use of a capacitor?

Capacitor is one of the passive components and it stores energy in the form of electrical charge.
Capacitor charges and discharges the charge depending on the circuit operation. It is used mainly
in electronic and electrical circuits to perform different tasks, such as smoothing, filtering,
bypassing, noise reduction, sensing capabilities and etc.

One application requires one type of capacitor and another application requires another type of
capacitor. i.e. same type of capacitor is not used for all the applications. First of all we need to
choose which type of capacitor is suitable for a particular application. Choosing of capacitor type
depends on some factors. The factors which influences in choosing type of a capacitor for a
specific application are given below,

Capacitance Value Ranges: Each type of capacitor has a specific capacitance value. Depending
on application we need to choose a required range of capacitor.

Working Voltage:Some types of capacitors have low working voltages and some more type of
capacitors have high working voltages. Depending on the application we need to choose the
capacitor voltage.

Polarization: Tantalum and electrolytic capacitors are polarized and also they operate with a
voltage in one direction. So polarization is one of the important factors while choosing the
capacitor.

Tolerance: The close tolerance value capacitors are needed to choose for applications like
oscillators and filters where the capacitor value is critical. But in some type of applications like
coupling and de-coupling the value of capacitor is not critical.

Temperature Coefficient:Capacitance value varies with temperature in some type of capacitors


and some capacitors like silver mica, ceramic are stable with varying temperatures. So depending
on application one can select the capacitor.
Leakage Current: High level insulation is needed in some applications but in some applications
it is not necessary. Electrolytic capacitors have poor leakage performance. Leakage current is
also considerable factor while choosing the capacitor for application.

Cost: The cost is the basic driving parameter for all applications. Because everyone want to have
high performance with low cost.Today, all the high performance capacitors are available for low
cost in surface mount packages.

Here are the some of the applications of capacitors.

Filter Applications

Capacitors are used as main elements in frequency selective filters. All the filter designs are used
for the high performance and frequency based applications,by selecting the proper components
and quality required. Some of the filter topologies are given below.

 High Pass Filter (HPF)


 Low Pass Filter (LPF)
 Band Pass Filter (BPF)
 Band Stop Filter (BSF)
 Notch Filter (NF)
 All Pass filter (ALF)
 Equalization Filter (EF)

Decoupling/By-Pass Capacitors

Decoupling capacitors are used in digital electronics to protect the microchips from the electrical
noise on power signals. The main role of decoupling capacitors is to reduce the noise in the
circuit. These capacitors are placed very close to the microchips in the circuits to remove noise
from the surroundings. These capacitors are also provides extra energy to the IC’s and also
remove disturbances to the logic signal.

Coupling or DC Blocking Capacitors

The coupling or DC blocking capacitors are used in the applications where the AC and DC
signals are need to be separated. These types of capacitors will allow only AC signals and blocks
the DC signals. Here the capacitance value of a capacitor will not affect the coupling
applications. But the performance of these capacitors is high in the applications if the reactance
of a capacitor is high value. The main use of these capacitors is to block the DC currents from
the signal. These types of capacitors are used to pass AC signals for coupling of one electronic
circuit to another circuit.

Snubber Capacitors

Snubber capacitors are used in the circuits where high inductance load is driven. In high
inductance circuits, such as in transformers and in motors the stored energy is discharged
suddenly. Due to this effect other components in the circuit may damage and also large power
spikes are obtained in those circuits. To avoid these problems we use capacitors across the high
inductive components in the circuits.Due to thisprocess the capacitors avoid voltage spikes and
also they provide safety to the circuit.

Low power circuits also use these snubber capacitors to avoid voltage spikes, which are created
from undesirable radio frequency (RF) interferences, which influences the circuit
operation.These snubber capacitors are also used in parallel to the interrupt components, in the
high voltage circuits to avoid circuit breaker problems by producing equal voltage distribution
between those components.

Pulsed Power Capacitors

Generally a capacitor is small energy storage component. Large capacitors and capacitor banks
are used where a lot of energy required within a short period of time. Capacitor banks store the
lot of energy for the applications, such as particle accelerators, pulsed lasers, radars, max
generators, fusion research and rail guns. A normal application for pulsed power capacitors is
used in a flash on disposable camera which charges up and discharges quickly through its flash.

Resonant or Tuned Circuit Applications

To design filters we use capacitor, resistors and also inductors. In this design some combinations
of components are used, to amplify the resonant frequency signals. Here the low power signals
are amplified to the high power signals, at resonant frequency, as tuned filters or oscillators. But
in designing the resonant frequency circuits we take much care about the component
combinations because some of the combinations are may damage the operation and also fail
quickly.

Capacitive Sensing Application

The capacitive sensing is a technique in detecting the change in capacitance value, change in the
distance between the plates, change in dielectric and change in the area of capacitor plates.
Capacitive sensing is a technique which is recently used in advanced consumer electronic
circuits. Although capacitive sensors are used in different applications such as position, fluid
level, humidity, acceleration and manufacturing quality control etc.

Table of capacitor applications

Capacitors with their uses and applications are given in the tabular form for better understanding.
Capacitor Safety

We need to take some safety precautions about capacitors. Capacitors are storage devices, which
store electrical energy from small amounts to large amounts. Due to this high energy we can
observe electrical charge even though the power is disconnected. Sometimes these high energy
capacitors may damage the circuit components. One best thing to avoid these problems is
discharge the capacitors before use in the electrical circuits.

If the voltage to the polarized electrolytic capacitors are reversed then these capacitors may fail
in the circuit operations. The breaking of dielectric material also causes to fail the capacitors
even though they are used in high voltage and high power applications.

Active High Pass Filter


Introduction

A high pass filter will allow the frequencies which are higher than the cut-off frequency and
attenuate the frequencies lower than the cut off frequency. In some cases this filter is also termed
as ‘Low-Cut’ filter or ‘Base-cut’ filter. The amount of attenuation or the pass band range will
depend on the designing parameters of the filter.

The pass band gain of an active filter is more than unity gain. The operation of the active high
pass filter is same as passive high pass filter, but the main difference is that the active high pass
filter uses operational an amplifier which provides amplification of the output signals and
controls gain.

The ideal characteristics of the high pass filter are shown below
We know that the high pass filter will pass the frequencies from cut-off frequency point to
‘infinity’ frequency which does not exist in practical considerations. Besides passive high pass
filter in this active high pass filter the maximum frequency response is limited by the open loop
characteristics of the op-amp.

Active High Pass Filter

By connecting a passive RC high pass filter circuit to the inverting or non-inverting terminal of
the op-amp gives us first order active high pass filter. The passive RC high pass filter circuit
connected to the non-inverting terminal of the unity gain operational amplifier is shown below.

Active High Pass Filter With High Voltage Gain

The operation is same as that of the passive high pass filter, but the input signal is amplified by
the amplifier at the output. The amount of amplification depends on the gain of the amplifier.
The magnitude of the pass band gain is equal to 1 + (R3/R2). Where R3 is the feedback resistor in
Ω (ohms) and R2 is the input resistor. The circuit of active high pass filter with amplification is
given below

Voltage Gain Of An Active High Pass Filter

Voltage Gain Av = Amax (f/fc) / √{1 + (f/fc)²}

Wheref = operating frequency

fc = cut-off frequency

Amax = pass band gain of the filter = 1 + (R3/R2)

At low frequencies means when the operating frequency is less than the cut-off frequency, the
voltage gain is less than the pass band gain Amax. At high frequencies means when the operating
frequency is greater than the cut-off frequency, the voltage gain of the filter is equal to pass band
gain. If operating frequency is equal to the cut-off frequency,then the voltage gain of the filter is
equal to 0.707 Amax.

Voltage Gain in (dB)

The magnitude of voltage gain is generally taken in decibels (dB):

Av(dB) = 20 log10 (Vout/Vin)

-3 dB = 20 log10 (0.707 * Vout/Vin)

The cut-off frequency which separates both pass band and stop band can be calculated using the
below formula
fC = 1 / (2πRC)

The phase shift of the active high pass filter is equal to that of the passive filter. It is equal to the
+45° at the cut-off frequency fC and this phase shift value is equated as

Ø = tan-1(1/2πfcRC)
Frequency Response Of Active High Pass Filter

The frequency response curve with respect to the amplifiers open loop gain is shown below.

In frequency response of the active high pass filter the maximum pass band frequency is limited
by the bandwidth or the open loop characteristics of the operational amplifier. Due to this
limitation the active high pass filter response will appears like the wide band filter response. By
using this op-amp based active high pass filter we can achieve high accuracy with the use of low
tolerance resistors and capacitors.

Active High Pass Filter using Inverting Operational Amplifier

We know that the active high pass filter can be designed by using either inverting terminal or the
non-inverting terminal of an operational amplifier. Till now we saw the high pass filter circuit
and response curves of the non-inverting active high pass filter. Now let us see the active high
pass filter using inverting op-amp.
Gain derivation in Laplace form

Let us consider the inverting amplifier as shown below

The currents flowing in the circuit are I1, I2 and Iin,

Where I1 = I2 and Iin = 0


Vin / Z1 = -Vout / R1

Vout / Vin = – R1 / Z1

Vout / Vin = – R1 / (1/sC1)

Vout / Vin = -sR1C1 = Gain

Active High Pass Filter Example

Let us consider cut-off frequency value as 10 KHz, pass band gain Amax as 1.5and capacitor
value as 0.02 µF

The equation of the cut-off frequency is fC = 1 / (2πRC)

By re-arranging this equation we have R = 1 / (2πfC)

R = 1/ (2π * 10000 * 0.02 * 10-6) = 795.77 Ω

The pass band gain of the filter is Amax = 1 + (R3/R2) = 1.5

R3 = 0.5 R2

If we consider the R2 value as 10KΩ, then R3 = 5 kΩ

We can calculate the gain of the filter as follows

Voltage Gain for High Pass filter | Vout / Vin | = Amax * (f/fc) /√[1 + (f/fc)²]

Av(dB) = 20 log10 (Vout/Vin)

By using this equation let us tabulate the responses for the range of frequencies to plot the
response curve of the filter. These responses are assumed as 10 Hz to 100 KHz.
Bode-plot

To analyse the circuit frequency response this bode plot is used. It is nothing but a graph of the
transfer function of linear, time variant verses frequency. This is plotted with the log frequency
axis. It consists of mainly two plots; one is magnitude plot and the other is phase plot.

The magnitude plot will express the magnitude of the frequency response i.e., gain and the phase
plot is used to express the response of the frequency shift.

The frequency response bode-plot according to the values which are tabulated above is given
below:

According to the values calculated, at frequency 10 Hz the gain of the filter obtained in dB is -
56.48. If we increase the value of frequency to 100 Hz the obtained gain is -36.48 dB and at
frequency 500 Hz the gain of the filter is -22.51 dB, at frequency 1000 Hz gain in dB is -
16.52.By this we can say that if frequency increases the gain of the filter increases at the rate of
20dB/decade.

Till the cut-off frequency 10 KHz the gain of the filter increases but after the cut-off frequency
the gain reaches maximum value and it is constant.

Second Order High Pass Filter

Second order active filter frequency response is exactly opposite to the second order active low
pass filter response because this filter will attenuate the voltages below the cut-off frequency.
The transfer function of the second order filter is given below

Vout(s) / Vin(s) = -Ks² / s² + (ω0/Q)s + ω0²


Where K = R1/R2 and ω0 = 1/CR

This is the general form of the second order high pass filter.

Second Order Active High Pass Filter Circuit

The designing procedure for the second order active filter is same as that of the first order filter
because the only variation is in the roll-off. If the roll-off of the first order active high pass filter
is 20dB/decade, then roll-off of the second order filter is 40 dB/ decade. It means the twice of the
value of the first order filter. The circuit of second order filter is shown below

Second Order Active High Pass Filter Example

Let us design a filter with cut-off frequency 4 KHz and the delay rate in the stop band is 40
dB/decade. As the delay rate in the stop band is 40 dB/decade we can clearly say that the filter is
second order filter.

Let us consider the capacitor values as C1= C2 = C = 0.02µF

The equation of the cut-off frequency is R = 1/ 2πfC

By re-arranging this equation we have R= 1⁄2πfC

By substituting the values of cut-off frequency as 4 KHz and capacitor as 0.02µF

R = 1.989 KΩ = 2 KΩ.
Let the gain of the filter is 1+ R1/R2 = 2

R1 / R2 = 1

R1 = R2

Therefore we can take R1 = R2 = 10 KΩ

Thus the obtained filter is shown as below

Higher Order High Pass Filters

By cascading first order filter with second order filter , we can obtain the third order filter. When
we cascade two second order filters we can get the fourth order filter. Like this with the help of
first order and second order filters we get the higher order filters.

With the increase in the order of the filter,the difference between actual stop band and theoretical
stop band increases. But the overall gain of the higher order filter is equal because we already
saw that the resistors and capacitors which determine the frequency response values will be
same.

This cascading order is shown below


Applications of active high pass filters

 These are used in the loud speakers to reduce the low level noise.
 Eliminates rumble distortions in audio applications so these are also called are treble boost
filters.
 These are used in audio amplifiers to amplify the higher frequency signals.
 These are also used in equalisers.

Active Low Pass Filter


Introduction

Low Pass filter is a filter which passes all frequencies from DC to upper cut-off frequency fH
and rejects any signals above this frequency.

In ideal case, the frequency response curve drops at the cut-off frequency. Practically the signal
will not drop suddenly but drops gradually from transition region to the stop band region.

Cut-off frequency means the point where the response drops -3 dB or 70.7% from the pass band.
Transition region means the area where falloff occurs.

Stop band region means the area where the attenuation occurs mostly to the input signals. So this
filter is also called as high-cut filter or treble cut filter. The ideal response is shown below
Rather than the passive components the Active Low Pass Filter is formed by active components
like Op-Amps, FETs and transistors. These filters are very effective when compared with the
passive filters. Active filters are introduced to overcome the defects of passive filters.

A simple active low pass filter is formed by using an op-amp. The operational amplifier will
takethe high impedance signal as input and gives a low impedance signal as output. The
amplifier component in this filter circuit will increase the output signal amplitude.

By this action of the amplifier the output signal will become wider or narrower. The maximum
frequency response of the filter depends on the amplifier used in the circuit design.

Active low pass filter circuit

The attenuation of the signal that is the amplitude of the output signal is lesser than amplitude of
the input signal in the passive circuit. In order to overcome this disadvantage of passive filter
active filter is designed. A Passive filter connected to the inverting or non-inverting op-amp
gives us a simple active low pass filter.

First order active filter is formed by a single op-amp with RC circuit. A simple RC Passive Filter
connected to the non-inverting terminal of an operational amplifier is shown below

This RC circuit will provide a low frequency path to the input of the amplifier. The amplifier acts
as a buffer circuit providing unity gain output. This circuit has more input impedance value.
Even though the input impedence of the op-amps high below the cut-off frequency, this input
impedance is limited by the series impedance which is equal to R+ 1⁄jωC.
The output impedance of the op-amp which is connected in the circuit is always low. This circuit
will provide high stability to filter. The main drawback of this configuration is voltage gain is
unity. Even for this circuit also the output power is high since the input impedance is low.

Active low pass filter with high voltage gain

The above active low pass filter circuit does not provide more than unity gain. Thus,we use
below circuit to provide high voltage gain.

When the input signals are at low frequencies the signals will pass through the amplifying circuit
directly, but if the input frequency is high the signals are passed through the capacitor C1. By
this filter circuit the output signal amplitude is increased by the pass band gain of the filter.

We know that, for non-inverting amplifier circuit the magnitude of the voltage gain is obtained
by its feedback resistor R2 divided by its corresponding input resistor R3.

This is given as follows

Magnitude of the voltage Gain= {1 + (R2/R3)}

Active low pass filter voltage gain

We know that the gain can be obtained by the frequency components and this is given as follows

Voltage gain = V_out⁄V_in = A_max⁄ √(1+〖f/f_c 〗^2 )

Where

 Amax = Gain of the pass band = 1 + R_2⁄R_3


 f = operational frequency.
 fc = Cut-off frequency.
 Vout = Output voltage.
 Vin= Input voltage.
When the frequency increases, then the gain decreases by 20 dB for every 10 time increment of
frequency. This operation is observed as below

At low frequencies that is when operating frequency f is less than cut-off frequency, then

Vout / Vin = Amax

When operating frequency is equal to the cut off frequency, then

Vout / Vin = Amax / √2 = 0.707 Amax

When the operating frequency is less than the cut off frequency, then

Vout / Vin < Amax

By these equations we can say that at low frequencies the circuit gain is equal to maximum gain
and at high frequencies the circuit gain is less than maximum gain Amax.

When actual frequency is equal to the cut-off frequency, then the gain is equal to the 70.7% of
the Amax. By this we can say that for every tenfold (decade) increase of frequency the gain of the
voltage is divided by 10.

Magnitude of the Voltage Gain (dB): Amax = 20 log10 (Vout / Vin)

At -3 dB frequency the gain is given as:

3 dB Amax = 20 log10 {0.707 (Vout / Vin)}

Active Low Pass Filter Example:

Let us consider a non-inverting active low pass filter having cut off frequency at 160 Hz and
input impedance as 15kΩ. Assume that at low frequencies this circuit has a voltage gain of 10.

The gain in dB is given as 20log (Amax) = 20log (10) = 20 dB

We know that the voltage gain is given as:

Amax = 10 = 1 + (R2/R1)

Let the resistor R1 be 1.2 kΩ

R2 = 9R1 = 9 x 1.2k = 10.8 kΩ

Therefore the obtained R2 is 10.8 kΩ. Since this value does not exist we can consider the nearest
preferred standard value as 11 kΩ.

By considering the cut off frequency equation we can get the capacitor value.
fC = 1/ 2πRC

By considering the C as main we can write the above equation as follows

C = 1 / 2πfCR

Substitute input impedance value as 15 kΩ, f_C value as 160 Hz.

Therefore the C = 0.068µF.

From the obtained values we can get the active low pass filter as follows

Frequency Response

The response of the active filter is as shown in below figure


Just by adding an additional RC circuit to the first order low pass filter the circuit behaves as a
second order filter.The second order filter circuit is shown above.

The gain of the above circuit is Amax = 1 + (R2/R1)

The cut-off frequency of second order low pass filter is fc = 1 / 2π√(C1C2R3R4)

The frequency response and the designing steps of the second order filter and the first order filter
are almost same except the roll off of the stop band. The roll off value of the second order filter
is double to that of first order filter that is 40dB/decade or 12dB/octave.These filters stop the
high frequency signals more steep.

Applications Of Active Low Pass Filters

In electronics these filters are widely used in many applications. These filters are used as hiss
filters in audio speakers to reduce the high frequency hiss produced in the system and these are
used as inputs for sub woofers.

These are also used in equalisers and audio amplifiers. In analog to digital conversion these are
used as anti-aliasing filters to control signals. In digital filters these are used in blurring of
images, smoothing sets of data signals. In radio transmitters to block harmonic emissions.

In acoustics these filters are used to filter the high frequency signals from the transmitting sound
which will cause echo at higher sound frequencies.

Active Band Pass Filter


Introduction

A Band Pass Filter is a circuit which allows only particular band of frequencies to pass through
it. This Pass band is mainly between the cut-off frequencies and they are fL and fH. Where fL is
the lower cut-off frequency and fH is higher cut-off frequency. The centre frequency is denoted
by ‘fC’ and it is also called as resonant frequency or peak frequency.

The fL value must always be less than the value of fH. The pass band of the filter is nothing but
the bandwidth. The gain of the filter is maximum at resonant or centre frequency and this is
referred as total pass band gain. This pass band gain is denoted by ‘Amax’.

For low pass filter this pass band starts from 0 Hz and continues until it reaches the resonant
frequency value at -3 dB down from a maximum pass band gain.

Where as in the case of high pass filter this pass band begins from the -3 dB resonant frequency
and ends at the value of the maximum loop gain for active filter. Combination of low pass and
high pass responses gives us band pass response as shown below:

The amplifier circuit between these high pass and low pass filter will provide isolation and gives
over all voltage gain of the circuit. The values of the cut-off frequencies of both the filters must
be maintained with minimum difference.
If this difference is very small, there may be a possibility of interacting of high pass and low pass
stages. Thus, in order to have proper levels of these cut-off frequencies an amplifying circuit is
necessary.

Wide Band Pass Filter

If the value of quality factor is less than ten, then the pass band is wide, which gives us the larger
bandwidth. This band pass filter is called Wide Band Pass Filter. In this filter the high cut-off
frequency must be greater than the lower cut-off frequency. It uses two amplifying elements
(Op-amps) in design.

First the signal will pass through the high pass filter, the output signal of this high pass filter will
tends to infinity and thus the signal which tends to infinity is given to the low pass filter at the
end. This low pass filter will low pass the high frequency signal.

When the High Pass Filter is cascaded with Low pass filter the simple Band Pass Filter is
obtained. In order to realise this filter the order of the low pass and high pass circuits must be
same.

By cascading one first order low pass and high pass gives us the second order band pass filter
and by cascading two first order low pass filters with two high pass filters forms a fourth order
band pass filter. Due to this cascading the circuit produces a low value quality factor. The
capacitor in the first order high pass filter will block any DC biasing from the input signal.

The gain rolls off at both the stop bands is ± 20 dB /decade in the case of second order filter
(High + Low). The high Pass and low pass filters must be in first order only. Similarly, when the
high pass and low pass filters are at second order, then the gain roll off at both the stop bands is ±
40dB/Decade.

The voltage gain expression for band pass filter is given as:

| Vout / Vin | = [Amax * (f/fL)] / √{[1+(f/fL)²][1+(f/fH)²]}


It is obtained by the individual gains of both high pass and low pass filters, the individual gains
of both high pass and low pass filter are given below.

Voltage Gain for High Pass filter:

| Vout / Vin | = [Amax1 * (f/fL)] / √[1+(f/fL)²]

Voltage Gain for Low pass filter:

| Vout / Vin | = Amax2 / √[1+(f/fH)²]

Amax = Amax1 * Amax2

Where Amax1 is the gain of the high pass stage and Amax2 is the gain of the low pass stage.

The response of the wide band filter is shown below

Narrow Band Pass Filter

If the value of quality factor is greater than ten then the pass band is narrow and bandwidth of the
pass band is also less. This band pass filter is called as Narrow Band Pass Filter. It uses only one
active component (op-amp) rather than two and this op-amp is in inverting configuration. In this
filter the gain of the op-amp is maximum at centre frequency fc.
Narrow Band Pass Filter

If the value of quality factor is greater than ten then the pass band is narrow and bandwidth of the
pass band is also less. This band pass filter is called as Narrow Band Pass Filter. It uses only one
active component (op-amp) rather than two and this op-amp is in inverting configuration. In this
filter the gain of the op-amp is maximum at centre frequency fc.

Narrow Band Pass Filter Circuit

The input is applied to the inverting input terminal. This shows that the Op-amp is in inverting
configuration. This filter circuit produces narrow band pass filter response.
The voltage gain of the above filter circuit is AV = – R2 / R1

The cut-off frequencies of the filter circuit are

fC1 = 1 / (2πR1C1) and fC2 = 1 / (2πR2C2)

Multi Feedback Active Band Pass Filter

This filter circuit produces a tuned circuit based on the negative feedback of the filter. The
important advantage of this multiple feedback is that without any change in the maximum gain at
the centre frequency we can change the value of the cut-off frequency. This change in the cut-off
frequency can be done by the resistance ‘R3’.

By considering the below active filter circuit, let us consider the changed resistor value as R3′and
the changed cut-off frequency value as fc′, then we can equate for the new resistor value as
follows:

R3′ = R3(fc /fc′)²

It consists of two feedback paths, because of this multiple feedback paths it is also referred as
‘Multiple feedback band pass circuit’. This circuit produce an infinity gain multiple feedback
band pass filter. Due to this circuit the quality factor value increases maximum up to 20.

fc = 1/√(R1R2C1C2)

Q = fc/Bandwidth = (½){√[R2/R1]}

Amax = -R2/2R1

R1 = Q/{2πfcCAmax}

R2 = Q/πfcC

R3 = Q/{2πfcC(2Q² – Amax)}

The gain at the centre frequency ‘Amax’ must be less than 2Q². That is,
Amax < 2Q²

Where,

fc = cut off frequency in Hz


C = Capacitance, (C1 = C2 = C)
Q = Quality factor
Amax = Maximum gain

The Frequency Response of Active Band Filter

It has two centre frequencies, one is of high pass filter and the other is of low pass filter. The
centre frequency of the high pass filter must be lower than the centre frequency of the low pass
filter. The centre frequency of band pass filter is the geometric mean of lower and upper cut-off
frequencies fr2 = fH * fL.

The gain of the filter is 20 log (Vout/Vin) dB/Decade. The amplitude response is similar to the
responses of the low pass and high pass filter. Depending upon the cascading filter order the
response curve depends. The normalized mid frequency is given as fr = 1. Let us consider two
cut-off frequencies as 300 Hz and 900Hz, then, the bandwidth of the filter is 300 Hz -900 Hz =
600 Hz.

The Quality Factor

The quality factor depends on the bandwidth of the pass band. Quality factor is inversely
proportional to the Bandwidth. That means if band width increases the quality factor decrease
and if band width decreases the quality factor increases.

Q = fc/Bandwidth

For wide band pass filter the quality factor is low because the pass band width is high. For the
narrow band pass filter the quality factor is high. Selectivity and un-selectivity depends on the
width of the pass band. This quality factor is also relates to the damping factor (). If damping co-
efficient value is more the flatness of the output response also more. This is equated as follows:

ε = 2/Q

For different quality factor values the normalized gain response of a second order band pass filter
is given as:

By this graph, it is clear that the selectivity is more for higher quality factor.
Active Band Pass Filter Example

Let us consider the infinity gain multiple feedback active filter circuit for which the resonating
frequency is 1.5 kHz, maximum Voltage gain is 15 and quality factor is 7. Then component
values are calculated as follows:

For Resistors

We consider that the changed resistor value as R3´ and the changed cut-off frequency value
fc´=2 KHz then we can equate for the new resistor value as follows:

R3´ = R3 (fc/fc´)2 = 447.4(1.5/2)2 = 251.66 Ω

Therefore simply by taking the required frequency we can calculate the new resistor value.

Band Stop Filter


Introduction

The band stop filter is formed by the combination of low pass and high pass filters with a parallel
connection instead of cascading connection. The name itself indicates that it will stop a particular
band of frequencies. Since it eliminates frequencies, it is also called as band elimination filter or
band reject filter or notch filter.

We know that unlike high pass and low pass filters, band pass and band stop filters have two cut-
off frequencies. It will pass above and below a particular range of frequencies whose cut off
frequencies are predetermined depending upon the value of the components used in the circuit
design.

Any frequencies in between these two cut-off frequencies are attenuated. It has two pass bands
and one stop band. The ideal characteristics of the Band pass filter are as shown below

The characteristics of a band stop filter are exactly opposite of the band pass filter characteristics.

When the input signal is given, the low frequencies are passed through the low pass filter in the
band stop circuit and the high frequencies are passed through the high pass filter in the circuit.
This is shown in below block diagram.
The output is taken across the inductor and capacitor which are connected in series. We know
that for different frequencies in the input the circuit behaves either as an open or short circuit. At
low frequencies the capacitor acts as an open circuit and the inductor acts like a short circuit. At
high frequencies the inductor acts like an open circuit and the capacitor acts like a short circuit.
The above circuit shows the Twin ‘T’ network. This circuit gives us a notch filter. A notch filter
is nothing but the narrow Band stop filter. The characteristic shape of the band stop response
makes the filter as a notch filter. This notch filter is applied to eliminate the single frequency.
Since it consists of two ‘T’ shaped networks, it is referred as Twin T network. The maximum
elimination is occurs at the centre frequency fC = 1/(2πRC).

In order to eliminate the specific value of the frequency in case of a notch filter, the capacitor
chosen in the circuit design must be less than or equal to the 1 µF. By using the centre frequency
equation,we can calculate the value of the resistor. By using this notch circuit,we can eliminate
single frequency at 50 or 60 Hz.

The second order notch filter with active component op-amp in non-inverting configuration is
given as follows
The bandwidth is taken across the lower and higher cut-off frequencies. According to ideal filter
the pass band must have the gain as Amax and a stop band must have zero gain. In practice, there
will be some transition region. We can measure the pass band ripple and stop band ripples as
follows

Pass Band Ripple = – 20 log10(1-δp) dB

Stop Band Ripple = – 20 log10(δs) dB

Where

δp = Magnitude response of the pass band filter.

δs= Magnitude response of the stop band filter.

The typical stop bandwidth of the band stop filter is 1 to 2 decades. The highest frequency
eliminated is 10 to 100 times the lowest frequencies eliminated.
Ideal response of the notch filter

Band stop Filter Example

Let us consider the narrow band notch filter circuit. We know that the notch filter is used to
eliminate single frequency. Thus let us consider the frequency to eliminate be 120 Hz. The
capacitor value C= 0.33 µF.

By using the centre frequency fC = 1/(2πRC)

R = 1/(2πfCC) = 1 / (2πx120 x 0.33 x 10-6) = 4 kΩ

Thus, in order design the notch filter to eliminate 120 Hz frequency we have to take two parallel
resistors with 4 kΩ each and the two capacitors in parallel with 0.33 µF each.

Band stop filter summary

Band Stop filter has two pass bands and one stop band. The characteristics of this filter are
exactly opposite to the Band Pass Filter. It is also called as a Band rejection filteror Band
elimination filter. It uses a high pass filter and a low pass filter connected in parallel. The low
frequencies are given to the low pass, whereas the high frequencies are given to the high pass
filter.

Simple RLC circuit by connecting capacitor and inductor in series forms the band stop filter. At
very high and very low frequencies the band stop filter circuit acts like an open circuit, whereas
at mid frequencies the circuit acts as a short circuit. Hence the circuit attenuates only mid
frequencies and allows all other frequencies. The lower and higher cut-off frequencies of the
filter depend on the filter design.

The Band Stop filter with narrow band stop features is called as a notch filter. It is used to
eliminate single frequency value. It is formed by two resistors and two capacitors connected in
two ‘T’ shaped networks.

So, it is referred as Twin ‘T’ filter. The bandwidth of the filter is nothing but the stop band of the
filter. If the quality factor Q is high the narrow the width of the notch response. These are widely
preferred in communication circuits.

Applications of the Band Stop filter

In different technologies, these filters are used at different varieties.

 In telephone technology, these filters are used as the telephone line noise reducers and DSL
internet services. It will help to remove the interference on the line which will reduce the DSL
performance.
 These are widely used in the electric guitar amplifiers. Actually,this electric guitar produces a
‘hum’ at 60 Hz frequency. This filter is used to reduce that hum in order to amplify the signal
produced by the guitar amplifier and makes the best equipment. These are also used in some of
the acoustic applications like mandolin, base instrument amplifiers.
 In communication electronics the signal is distorted due to some noise (harmonics) which makes
the original signal to interfere with other signals which lead to errors in the output. Thus, these
filters are used to eliminate these unwanted harmonics.
 These are used to reduce the static on radio, which are commonly used in our daily life.
 These are also used in Optical communication technologies, at the end of the optical fiber there
may be some interfering (spurious) frequencies of light which makes the distortions in the light
beam. These distortions are eliminated by band stop filters. The best example is in Raman
spectroscopy.
 In image and signal processing these filters are highly preferred to reject noise.
 These are used in high quality audio applications like PA systems (Public address systems).
 These are also used in medical field applications,i.e., in biomedical instruments like EGC for
removing line noise.