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# The RC Circuit

Carl Lightbourne
PS253, Section04 Joern Mumme,
Department of Physical Sciences, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL
(Dated: October 25, 2011)

The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the exponential decay of a capacitors voltage when it is
given an initial voltage, removed from the circuit, and discharged through a resistor. purpose and results.
The theoretical capacitances were
,
.The experimental capacitances were found
to be
,
and
respectively for the three runs. This gave varying % differences of 4%
to20%.
I.

Introduction

## This experiment investigates the relationship

between voltage(V) current(I) and
capacitance(C) for capacitors of different
capacitances. This relationship is arranged in
series and parallel systems. Capacitors are
discharged, and the voltage across the capacitor
is measured, to highlight trends. The experiment
should show an exponential decay .
II.

## Shows how the voltage across a capacitor decays

exponentially. V is the voltage at time t, v0 is the
initial voltage across the capacitor, R is the
resistance of the resistor in the circuit, and C is
the capacitance of the capacitor.
( 2)
Capacitance of a capacitor is shown to be a
ration of the charge on the capacitor, Q to the
voltage across it, V.

## Equations and other

(3)
Finding the equivalent capacitance for capacitors
connected in parallel. This relationship is
derived from ohms law, where resistance is
equal to the ratio of voltage to current. Since the
voltage is constant, c=q/v, and the total charge is
conserved, the above relationship is derived.

(4)

## Figure 1. Setup for charging a capacitor. When

the voltage source is removed, the capacitor
discharges exponentially. Figures on diagram
are representational only. [1]

## Formula to find the equivalent capacitance for

capacitors connected in series. This relationship
is derived from ohms law, where resistance is
equal to the ratio of voltage to current. Since the
charge is constant, making v/c constant, the
above relationship is derived.

(1)
(5)

## Equation5. To find , the time constant in the

discharge. R is the resistance of the connected
resistor and C is the capacitance of the capacitor,
or equivalent capacitance of several capacitors.
Discussion of Results

Run
1
2
3

exp(s)

theo(s)

0.0219
0.0470

0.0218
0.0437

%difference
0.46
7.0

## Table 1, showing time constants, , for the

experiment.
Run

Cexp(

1
2
3

2.3
1.4
4.7

Ctheo(
2.2
1.1
4.4

%
difference
4.35
21.4
6.4

-0.5

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.04

-1.5

y = -43.668x - 0.0013
Time(s)

## Figure1,. Showing the ln(V/Vo) vs. time for Run

1. This used a single
capacitor, which was
discharged through a
resistor. The line
formed is linear.
0.5
0
-0.5

0.005

0.01

0.015

-1
-1.5
-2

y = -83.483x + 0.048
Time(s)

0.02

0.02

0.04

0.06

0.08

-0.5
-1
-1.5

y = -21.337x - 1E-04
Time(s)

## Figure 3,. Showing the ln(V/Vo) vs. time for

Run three. This used two
capacitors
connected in parallel, which were discharged
through a
resistor. The plotted points
were linear

-1

-2

Lv(V/Vo)

Voltage(V)

Ln(V/Vo)

0
Ln(V/Vo)

III.

## Figure 2,. Showing the ln(V/Vo) vs. time for

Run two. This used two
capacitors
connected in series, which were discharged
through a
resistor. The plotted points
were linear.

5
4
3
2
1
0
0

0.02

0.04

0.06

0.08

Time(s)

## Figure 4. Showing voltage against time for run

three (two capacitors in parallel). This graph
follows what is expected from exponential decay
graphs.
One source of error could be internal resistence.
Another source of error could be the inaccuracy
of the ratings of the capacitors.
[1] Hades, Using Circuit Maker.
hades.mech.northwestern.edu
IV.

Calculations

=-0.025/-1.049
=0.0219s

To find time
experiment

constant

Run2
=0.013/1.039
=0.0125s

from

Run3
=0.047/1.00
=0.047s
% difference=( high - low)*100/
=(0.0125-0.0109)*100/0.0125
Solving for c from slope
Slope= -1/RC
C=-1/R*slope
=-1/9.93*10^3*-43.65
=2.3*10^-6F
Run2= 1.2*10^-6F
Run3=4.7*10^-6F

Second Run

V.

Plot Data
Data Results #1

Voltage,
ChA,
Run #1
Time
Voltage
(s)
(V)
v/v0
0
4.448

Third run

Theoretical -1/RC
Run1
= -t/(ln(V/Vo)

ln v/vo
1

0.002

4.077 0.916592

0.004
0.006

3.731 0.838804
3.418 0.768435

0.008

3.13 0.703687

0.01

2.871 0.645459

0.012

2.627 0.590603

0.014

2.407 0.541142

0
0.08709
0.17578
-0.2634
0.35142
0.43779
0.52661
0.61407

high

0.016

2.207 0.496178

0.018

2.022 0.454586

0.02

1.856 0.417266

0.022

1.699 0.381969

0.024

1.558

0.026

1.426 0.320594

0.028
0.03

1.309 0.29429
1.201 0.270009

0.032

1.099 0.247077

0.034

1.006 0.226169

0.35027

0.70082
0.78837
0.87403
0.96241
1.04905
1.13758
1.22319
-1.3093
1.39805
1.48647

Data Results #2
Voltage,
ChA,
Run #2
Time
Voltage
(s)
(V)
v/v0
0
4.434

ln v/vo
1

0.002

4.024 0.907533

0.004

3.389 0.764321

0.006

2.857 0.644339

0.008

2.407 0.542851

0.01

2.031 0.458051

0.012

1.709 0.385431

0.014

1.44 0.324763

0.016

1.216 0.274244

0.018

1.025 0.231168
Data Results #3

0
0.09703
0.26877
0.43953
0.61092
0.78077
0.95339
1.12466
1.29374
1.46461

Voltage,
ChA,
Run #3
Time
Voltage
(s)
(V)
v/v0
ln v/vo
0
4.39
1
0
0.002
4.209 0.95877 -0.0421
0.004
4.033 0.918679 0.08482
0.006
3.862 0.879727 0.12814
0.008
3.701 0.843052 0.17073
0.01
3.545 0.807517 0.21379
0.012
3.399 0.77426 0.25585
0.014
3.257 0.741913 0.29852
0.016
3.12 0.710706 -0.3415
0.018
2.988 0.680638 0.38472
0.02
2.866 0.652847 0.42641
0.022
2.744 0.625057 0.46991
0.024
2.627 0.598405 0.51349
0.026
2.52 0.574032 0.55507
0.028
2.412 0.549431 0.59887
0.03
2.315 0.527335 0.63992
0.032
2.217 0.505011 0.68317
0.034
2.124 0.483827 0.72603
0.036
2.036 0.463781 0.76834
0.038
1.953 0.444875 0.80996
0.04
1.87 0.425968 0.85339
0.042
1.792
0.4082
-0.896
0.044
1.719 0.391572 0.93759
0.046
1.646 0.374943 0.98098

0.048

1.577 0.359226

0.05

1.509 0.343736

0.052

1.445 0.329157

0.054

1.387 0.315945

0.056

1.328 0.302506

0.058

1.274 0.290205

0.06

1.221 0.278132

0.062

1.172

0.26697

0.064

1.118

0.25467

0.066

1.074 0.244647

-1.0238
1.06788
1.11122
1.15219
1.19566
1.23717
1.27966
1.32062
1.36779
1.40794

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