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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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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} {} .

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?

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?

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} {} .

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?

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?

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.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics ii. OpenStax CNX. Nov 29, 2012 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11458/1.2
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