What is a capacitor used for?

To store charge

How does a capacitor store charge? (3)

Electrons from the negative terminal give the first plate a negative charge

Electrons on the other side are repelled by the negative charge, giving the other plate a positive charge

The difference in charge causes a potential difference between the plates

How are charge and voltage related in capacitors?

Charge is directly proportional to voltage

Define capacitance

Charge stored per unit voltage

How is capacitance combined in series? (3)

1/C = 1/C1 + 1/C2

Charge stored across each capacitor is the same

The sum of the PDs across the capacitor adds up to the total PD

How is capacitance combined in parallel? (3)

C = C1 + C2

PD across each capacitor is the same

Electrical charge is conserved

Why can a capacitor store energy? (2)

It is able to do work on other components

As charge stored increases, there is more repulsion on more work must be done to charge the capacitor

How is capacitance found experimentally? (6)

Connect a cell, ammeter, capacitor, variable resistor and voltmeter and switch in parallel with the capacitor

Use the variable resistor to choose a fixed value for the current

Open the switch to allow current to pass through the capacitor and start a timer simultaneously

Take voltage readings every 5 seconds, adjusting the variable resistor to keep the current constant

Use Q = It to find the charge at each time interval

Plot charge against voltage and find the gradient of the linear part of the graph to find capacitance

When is the current in a capacitor circuit zero?

When the capacitor is fully charged

What is an exponential function?

A function which, in equal intervals, the rate at which a quantity increases or decreases is proportional to its value

What does the area under a voltage-charge graph represent?

Energy stored

Why does work have to be done to store charge in a capacitor? (2)

The electrons moving towards the negatively charged plate experiences electrostatic repulsion so work is done to move it closer to the plate

Electrons being repelled on the other side are attracted to the positive charge on the second plate so work has to be done to overcome the attraction

How is a capacitor discharged through a resistor? (4)

Set up a circuit with a cell, capacitor, resistor and voltmeter connected in parallel and a switch in series with the cell and capacitor

When the capacitor is fully charged, open the switch and allow the capacitor to discharge through the resistor

The charge and PD across the capacitor decreases with time, causing the current and PD across the resistor to decrease

When the charge and PD across the resistor are zero, the current in the resistor is also zero

Define time constant

The time taken for the PD/current/charge across a discharging capacitor to decrease to e^-1 of its initial value

What is the equation used for modelling a discharging capacitor?

ΔQ/ΔT = -Q/CR

How is a capacitor charged?

Connect a cell, switch, resistor and capacitor in series

When the switch is closed, the capacitor begins to charge and the PD across it increases from zero

The sum of the PDs across the capacitor and resistor add up to the PD of the cell so as the PD across the capacitor increases. the PD across the resistor decreases

When the capacitor is fully charged, the PD across it is equal to the PD of the cell

What are capacitors used for? (2)

Provide back-up power for computers and emergency lighting

Smoothing output voltage of domestic electricity supplies