Capacitance and Parallel Plate Capacitors

Capacitance relates two fundamental electric concepts: charge and electric potential. The formula that relates the two is Capacitance = charge / electric_potential.

The term equipotential surface refers to how a charge, if moved along a particular path or surface, the work done on the field is equal to zero. If there are many charges along the surface of a conductor (along an equipotential surface), then the potential energy of the charged conductor will be equal to 1/2 multiplied by the electric potential φ and the integral of all charges along this surface.

Ue = ½ φ ∫ dq.

Given a scenario in which both charge and electric potential are related, we may introduce capacitance. The following formula proves important for calculating the energy of a charged conductor:

Ue = ½ φ q = ½ φ2 C = q2 / (2C).

A parallel plate capacitor is a system of metal plates separated by a a dielectric. One plate of the capacitor will be positively charged, while the other is negatively charged. The potential difference and charge on the capacitor places causes a storage of energy between the two plates in an electric field.


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