<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
  • List some uses of capacitors.
  • Express in equation form the energy stored in a capacitor.
  • Explain the function of a defibrillator.

Most of us have seen dramatizations in which medical personnel use a defibrillator    to pass an electric current through a patient’s heart to get it to beat normally. (Review [link] .) Often realistic in detail, the person applying the shock directs another person to “make it 400 joules this time.” The energy delivered by the defibrillator is stored in a capacitor and can be adjusted to fit the situation. SI units of joules are often employed. Less dramatic is the use of capacitors in microelectronics, such as certain handheld calculators, to supply energy when batteries are charged. (See [link] .) Capacitors are also used to supply energy for flash lamps on cameras.

In an electronic calculator circuit the memory is preserved using large capacitors which store energy when the batteries are charged.
Energy stored in the large capacitor is used to preserve the memory of an electronic calculator when its batteries are charged. (credit: Kucharek, Wikimedia Commons)

Energy stored in a capacitor is electrical potential energy, and it is thus related to the charge Q size 12{Q} {} and voltage V size 12{V} {} on the capacitor. We must be careful when applying the equation for electrical potential energy Δ PE = q Δ V size 12{?"PE"=q?V} {} to a capacitor. Remember that Δ PE size 12{?"PE"} {} is the potential energy of a charge q size 12{q} {} going through a voltage Δ V size 12{?V} {} . But the capacitor starts with zero voltage and gradually comes up to its full voltage as it is charged. The first charge placed on a capacitor experiences a change in voltage Δ V = 0 size 12{?V=0} {} , since the capacitor has zero voltage when uncharged. The final charge placed on a capacitor experiences Δ V = V size 12{?V=V} {} , since the capacitor now has its full voltage V size 12{V} {} on it. The average voltage on the capacitor during the charging process is V / 2 size 12{V/2} {} , and so the average voltage experienced by the full charge q size 12{q} {} is V / 2 size 12{V/2} {} . Thus the energy stored in a capacitor, E cap size 12{E rSub { size 8{"cap"} } } {} , is

E cap = Q V 2 , size 12{E rSub { size 8{"cap"} } =Q { {V} over {2} } } {}

where Q size 12{Q} {} is the charge on a capacitor with a voltage V size 12{V} {} applied. (Note that the energy is not QV size 12{ ital "QV"} {} , but QV / 2 size 12{ ital "QV"/2} {} .) Charge and voltage are related to the capacitance C of a capacitor by Q = CV size 12{Q= ital "CV"} {} , and so the expression for E cap size 12{E rSub { size 8{"cap"} } } {} can be algebraically manipulated into three equivalent expressions:

E cap = QV 2 = CV 2 2 = Q 2 2 C , size 12{E rSub { size 8{"cap"} } = { { ital "QV"} over {2} } = { { ital "CV" rSup { size 8{2} } } over {2} } = { {Q rSup { size 8{2} } } over {2C} } } {}

where Q size 12{Q} {} is the charge and V size 12{V} {} the voltage on a capacitor C size 12{C} {} . The energy is in joules for a charge in coulombs, voltage in volts, and capacitance in farads.

Energy stored in capacitors

The energy stored in a capacitor can be expressed in three ways:

E cap = QV 2 = CV 2 2 = Q 2 2 C , size 12{E rSub { size 8{"cap"} } = { { ital "QV"} over {2} } = { { ital "CV" rSup { size 8{2} } } over {2} } = { {Q rSup { size 8{2} } } over {2C} } } {}

where Q size 12{Q} {} is the charge, V size 12{V} {} is the voltage, and C size 12{C} {} is the capacitance of the capacitor. The energy is in joules for a charge in coulombs, voltage in volts, and capacitance in farads.

In a defibrillator, the delivery of a large charge in a short burst to a set of paddles across a person’s chest can be a lifesaver. The person’s heart attack might have arisen from the onset of fast, irregular beating of the heart—cardiac or ventricular fibrillation. The application of a large shock of electrical energy can terminate the arrhythmia and allow the body’s pacemaker to resume normal patterns. Today it is common for ambulances to carry a defibrillator, which also uses an electrocardiogram to analyze the patient’s heartbeat pattern. Automated external defibrillators (AED) are found in many public places ( [link] ). These are designed to be used by lay persons. The device automatically diagnoses the patient’s heart condition and then applies the shock with appropriate energy and waveform. CPR is recommended in many cases before use of an AED.

Questions & Answers

Water is flowing in a pipe with a varying cross-sectional area, and at all points the water completely fills the pipe. At point 1 the cross-sectional area of the pipe is 0.077 m2, and the magnitude of the fluid velocity is 3.50 m/s. (a) What is the fluid speed at points in the pipe where the cross
fagbeji Reply
A particle behave like a wave and we do not why?
what's the period of velocity 4cm/s at displacement 10cm
Andrew Reply
What is physics
LordRalph Reply
the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. The subject matter of physics includes mechanics, heat, light and other radiation, sound, electricity, magnetism, and the structure of atoms.
and the word of matter is anything that have mass and occupied space
what is phyices
Aurang Reply
Whats the formula
Okiri Reply
what aspect of black body spectrum forced plank to purpose quantization of energy level in its atoms and molicules
Shoaib Reply
a man has created by who?
Angel Reply
What type of experimental evidence indicates that light is a wave
Edeh Reply
double slit experiment
The S. L. Unit of sound energy is
Chukwuemeka Reply
what's the conversation like?
some sort of blatherring or mambo jambo you may say
I still don't understand what this group is all about oo
ufff....this associated with physics ..so u can ask questions related to all topics of physics..
what is sound?
what is upthrust
Mercy Reply
what is upthrust
Up thrust is a force
upthrust is a upward force that acts vertical in the ground surface.
yes rodney's answer z correct
what is centre of gravity?
you think the human body could produce such Force
what is wave
Bryan Reply
what is specific latent heat
Omosebi Reply
the total amount of heat energy required to change the physical state of a unit mass of matter without a corresponding change in temperature.
is there any difference between specific heat and heat capacity.....
what wave
why medical physics even.we have a specoal branch of science biology for this.
Sahrrr Reply
what is physics
AbleGod Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?