Skip to main content
Select Source:

capacitor

capacitor or condenser, device for the storage of electric charge. Simple capacitors consist of two plates made of an electrically conducting material (e.g., a metal) and separated by a nonconducting material or dielectric (e.g., glass, paraffin, mica, oil, paper, tantalum, or air). The Leyden jar is a simple capacitor. If an electrical potential (voltage) is applied to the plates of a capacitor (e.g., by connecting one plate to the positive and the other to the negative terminal of a storage battery), the plates will become charged, one positively and one negatively. If the externally applied voltage is then removed, the plates of the capacitor remain charged, and the presence of the electric charge induces an electrical potential between the plates. This phenomenon is called electrostatic induction. The capacity of the device for storing electric charge (i.e., its capacitance) can be increased by increasing the area of the plates, by decreasing their separation, or by changing the dielectric. The dielectric constant of a particular dielectric is the measure of the dielectric's unit capacitance. It describes the ratio of the capacitance of a dielectric-filled capacitor to a capacitor of the same size with a vacuum between the plates. Capacitors are used in many electrical and electronic devices. The main capacitor classifications are non-polarized (used for AC circuits) and polarized (used for DC circuits). Capacitors can also be classified as fixed or variable. One type of variable capacitor, formerly used in radio and television tuning circuits, consisted of two sets of semicircular plates, one fixed and the other mounted on a movable shaft. By rotating the shaft the area of overlap of the two plates increases or decreases, thus increasing or decreasing the capacitance. These devices have largely been replaced by frequency synthesizers and a special type of solid-state diode, known as a varactor, whose capacitance changes with the reverse-biased voltage across it.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"capacitor." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"capacitor." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/capacitor

"capacitor." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved February 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/capacitor

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

capacitor

capacitor (condenser) Electrical circuit component that stores charge. It has at least two metal plates and is used principally in alternating current (AC) circuits. The various types include parallel-plate condensers and electrolytic capacitors, the latter having a thin layer of oxide on one electrode. See also electric current

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"capacitor." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"capacitor." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/capacitor

"capacitor." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/capacitor

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

capacitor

ca·pac·i·tor / kəˈpasitər/ • n. a device used to store an electric charge, consisting of one or more pairs of conductors separated by an insulator.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"capacitor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"capacitor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/capacitor-0

"capacitor." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved February 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/capacitor-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

capacitor

capacitorbitter, committer, critter, embitter, emitter, fitter, flitter, fritter, glitter, gritter, hitter, jitter, knitter, litter, permitter, pitta, quitter, remitter, sitter, skitter, slitter, spitter, splitter, submitter, titter, transmitter, twitter, witter •drifter, grifter, lifter, shifter, sifter, snifter, uplifter •constrictor, contradictor, depicter, dicta, evictor, inflicter, predictor, victor •filter, kilter, philtre (US philter), quilter, tilter •Jacinta, midwinter, Minter, Pinta, Pinter, printer, splinter, sprinter, tinter, winter •sphincter •assister, ballista, bistre (US bister), blister, enlister, glister, lister, mister, resistor, Sandinista, sister, transistor, tryster, twister, vista •trickster •minster, spinster •hipster, quipster, tipster •cohabiter • arbiter • presbyter •exhibitor, inhibitor, prohibiter •Manchester • Chichester • Silchester •Rochester • Colchester •creditor, editor, subeditor •auditor • Perdita • taffeta • shopfitter •forfeiter • outfitter • counterfeiter •register • marketer •cricketer, picketer •Alistair • weightlifter • filleter •fillister • shoplifter •diameter, heptameter, hexameter, parameter, pentameter, tetrameter •Axminster • Westminster •limiter, perimeter, scimitar, velocimeter •accelerometer, anemometer, barometer, gasometer, geometer, manometer, micrometer, milometer, olfactometer, optometer, pedometer, photometer, pyrometer, speedometer, swingometer, tachometer, thermometer •Kidderminster • janitor •banister, canister •primogenitor, progenitor, senator •administer, maladminister, minister, sinister •monitor • per capita • carpenter •spanakopita • Jupiter • trumpeter •character • barrister • ferreter •teleprinter •chorister, forester •interpreter, misinterpreter •capacitor • ancestor • Exeter •stepsister •elicitor, solicitor •babysitter • house-sitter • bullshitter •competitor • catheter • harvester •riveter • banqueter • non sequitur •loquitur •inquisitor, visitor •compositor, expositor

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"capacitor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"capacitor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/capacitor

"capacitor." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/capacitor

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.