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When is the potential difference across a capacitor an emf?

Only when the current being drawn from or put into the capacitor is zero. Capacitors, like batteries, have internal resistance, so their output voltage is not an emf unless current is zero. This is difficult to measure in practice so we refer to a capacitor’s voltage rather than its emf. But the source of potential difference in a capacitor is fundamental and it is an emf.

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Phet explorations: circuit construction kit (dc only)

An electronics kit in your computer! Build circuits with resistors, light bulbs, batteries, and switches. Take measurements with the realistic ammeter and voltmeter. View the circuit as a schematic diagram, or switch to a life-like view.

Circuit Construction Kit (DC only)

Section summary

  • An RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} circuit is one that has both a resistor and a capacitor.
  • The time constant τ size 12{τ} {} for an RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} circuit is τ = RC size 12{τ= ital "RC"} {} .
  • When an initially uncharged ( V 0 = 0 size 12{V rSub { size 8{0} } =0} {} at t = 0 size 12{t=0} {} ) capacitor in series with a resistor is charged by a DC voltage source, the voltage rises, asymptotically approaching the emf of the voltage source; as a function of time,
    V = emf ( 1 e t / RC ) (charging). size 12{V="emf" \( 1 - e rSup { size 8{ - t/ ital "RC"} } \) } {}
  • Within the span of each time constant τ size 12{τ} {} , the voltage rises by 0.632 of the remaining value, approaching the final voltage asymptotically.
  • If a capacitor with an initial voltage V 0 size 12{V rSub { size 8{0} } } {} is discharged through a resistor starting at t = 0 size 12{t=0} {} , then its voltage decreases exponentially as given by
    V = V 0 e t / RC (discharging). size 12{V=V rSub { size 8{0} } e rSup { size 8{ - t/ ital "RC"} } \) } {}
  • In each time constant τ size 12{τ} {} , the voltage falls by 0.368 of its remaining initial value, approaching zero asymptotically.

Conceptual questions

Regarding the units involved in the relationship τ = RC size 12{τ= ital "RC"} {} , verify that the units of resistance times capacitance are time, that is, Ω F = s size 12{ %OMEGA cdot F=s} {} .

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The RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} time constant in heart defibrillation is crucial to limiting the time the current flows. If the capacitance in the defibrillation unit is fixed, how would you manipulate resistance in the circuit to adjust the RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} constant τ size 12{τ} {} ? Would an adjustment of the applied voltage also be needed to ensure that the current delivered has an appropriate value?

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When making an ECG measurement, it is important to measure voltage variations over small time intervals. The time is limited by the RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} constant of the circuit—it is not possible to measure time variations shorter than RC size 12{ ital "RC"} {} . How would you manipulate R size 12{R} {} and C size 12{C} {} in the circuit to allow the necessary measurements?

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Draw two graphs of charge versus time on a capacitor. Draw one for charging an initially uncharged capacitor in series with a resistor, as in the circuit in [link] , starting from t = 0 size 12{t=0} {} . Draw the other for discharging a capacitor through a resistor, as in the circuit in [link] , starting at t = 0 size 12{t=0} {} , with an initial charge Q 0 size 12{Q rSub { size 8{0} } } {} . Show at least two intervals of τ size 12{τ} {} .

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When charging a capacitor, as discussed in conjunction with [link] , how long does it take for the voltage on the capacitor to reach emf? Is this a problem?

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When discharging a capacitor, as discussed in conjunction with [link] , how long does it take for the voltage on the capacitor to reach zero? Is this a problem?

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Referring to [link] , draw a graph of potential difference across the resistor versus time, showing at least two intervals of τ size 12{τ} {} . Also draw a graph of current versus time for this situation.

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Questions & Answers

the meaning of phrase in physics
Chovwe Reply
is the meaning of phrase in physics
Chovwe
write an expression for a plane progressive wave moving from left to right along x axis and having amplitude 0.02m, frequency of 650Hz and speed if 680ms-¹
Gabriel Reply
how does a model differ from a theory
Friday Reply
what is vector quantity
Ridwan Reply
Vector quality have both direction and magnitude, such as Force, displacement, acceleration and etc.
Besmellah
Is the force attractive or repulsive between the hot and neutral lines hung from power poles? Why?
Jack Reply
what's electromagnetic induction
Chinaza Reply
electromagnetic induction is a process in which conductor is put in a particular position and magnetic field keeps varying.
Lukman
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Salaudeen
what is mutual induction?
je
mutual induction can be define as the current flowing in one coil that induces a voltage in an adjacent coil.
Johnson
how to undergo polarization
Ajayi Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y³ towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v²k² and distance uk²/√u-vk as origin
Gabriel Reply
show that a particle moving under the influence of an attractive force mu/y^3 towards the axis x. show that if it be projected from the point (0,k) with the component velocities U and V parallel to the axis of x and y, it will not strike the axis of x unless u>v^2k^2 and distance uk^2/√u-k as origin
Gabriel Reply
No idea.... Are you even sure this question exist?
Mavis
I can't even understand the question
Ademiye
yes it was an assignment question "^"represent raise to power pls
Gabriel
mu/y³ u>v²k² uk²/√u-vk please help me out
Gabriel
An engineer builds two simple pendula. Both are suspended from small wires secured to the ceiling of a room. Each pendulum hovers 2 cm above the floor. Pendulum 1 has a bob with a mass of 10kg . Pendulum 2 has a bob with a mass of 100 kg . Describe how the motion of the pendula will differ if the bobs are both displaced by 12º .
Imtiaz Reply
no ideas
Augstine
if u at an angle of 12 degrees their period will be same so as their velocity, that means they both move simultaneously since both both hovers at same length meaning they have the same length
Ademiye
Modern cars are made of materials that make them collapsible upon collision. Explain using physics concept (Force and impulse), how these car designs help with the safety of passengers.
Isaac Reply
calculate the force due to surface tension required to support a column liquid in a capillary tube 5mm. If the capillary tube is dipped into a beaker of water
Mildred Reply
find the time required for a train Half a Kilometre long to cross a bridge almost kilometre long racing at 100km/h
Ademiye
method of polarization
Ajayi
What is atomic number?
Makperr Reply
The number of protons in the nucleus of an atom
Deborah
type of thermodynamics
Yinka Reply
oxygen gas contained in a ccylinder of volume has a temp of 300k and pressure 2.5×10Nm
Taheer Reply
Practice Key Terms 3

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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