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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?

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

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.

C=KεA/d

or

C= εA/4πd

or

C = εo * εr (A/d)

Where,

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,

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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 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 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

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 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

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.

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%.

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.

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.

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 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

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 is the capacitance,

Q is the charge,

ε permittivity of dielectric

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

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

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.

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

conductors.

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.

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.

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

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

Here

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

D = 0.4 cm = 0.004m

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.

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

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.

We know that

Q = CV

V = Q/C

V (t) = Q(t)/C

Q(t) =C V(t)

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.

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.

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).

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

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

W = Q2/2C

W = (CV)2/2C

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

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.

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 .

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.

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

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%

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.

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

Blue 6 6 x1,000,000

Violet 7 7

Black 4 100 – 10 10

Brown 6 200 100 1.6 –

Orange 15 400 – 40 –

Green 25 600 16 15

Violet 50 800 – – –

Grey – 900 – 25 25

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 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.

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.

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

C=Q/V

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

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.

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,

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.

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

connected in series.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

Ceq = C1 + C2

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.

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.

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

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,

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 ]

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.

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.

Total capacitive reactance of a circuit is,

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.

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.

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

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.

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,

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,

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

fc = cut-off frequency

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.

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.

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

Vin / Z1 = -Vout / R1

Vout / Vin = – R1 / Z1

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

value as 0.02 µF

R3 = 0.5 R2

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

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 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

Where K = R1/R2 and ω0 = 1/CR

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

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

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.

R = 1.989 KΩ = 2 KΩ.

Let the gain of the filter is 1+ R1/R2 = 2

R1 / R2 = 1

R1 = R2

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Where

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

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

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.

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.

Amax = 10 = 1 + (R2/R1)

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

C = 1 / 2πfCR

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

Frequency Response

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 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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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

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.

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

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:

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,

C = Capacitance, (C1 = C2 = C)

Q = Quality factor

Amax = Maximum gain

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 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:

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

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

Where

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

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.

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 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.

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.

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