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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

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
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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