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EXPERIMENT E4: PARALLEL PLATE CAPACITORS OBJECTIVES In this experiment, you can learn about electric constant, capacitance of a plate capacitor, charges, dielectric displacement and dielectric constant with Maxwells equations. The electric constant is determined by measuring the charge of a plate capacitor. The dielectric constant is determined in the same way, with plastic or glass filling the space between the plates. THEORY A capacitor is a system of two conductors separated by an insulator or vacuum (Fig. 4.1). The two conductors have charges with equal magnitude and opposite sign. The potential difference between the conductors is proportional to of the capacitor: (4.1) . The ratio of charge to potential difference is called the capacitance

## Figure 4.1 A Parallel-plate capacitor.

In a parallel-plate capacitor separated by a distance d, with same area A, the uniform electric field between the plates is (4.2) where is the magnitude of the surface charge density on each plate and constant. Then the potential difference between the two plates is 24 is a universal

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From Eq. (4.3) we can see that the capacitance vacuum is

(4.3)

of a parallel-plate capacitor in

(4.4)

The capacitance depends only on the geometry of the capacitor; it is directly proportional to the area of each plate and inversely proportional to their separation . If we can move one of the capacitor plates, the capacitance changes . (4.5) changes as the plate separation

( )

In a series connection of two capacitors (Fig. 4.2), the capacitors have the same charge . Their potentail differences add as . The equivalent capacitance of the series is

(4.6)

## Figure 4.2 Two capacitors in series.

In a parallel connection of two capacitors (Fig. 4.3), the capacitors have the same charge . Their charge add as . The equivalent capacitance of the parallel is:

(4.7)

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## Figure 4.3 Two capacitors in parallel.

A nonconducting material (dielectric) is placed between the conducting plates of a capacitor to increase the maximum possible potential difference between the capacitor plates. In this way more charge and energey can be stored. When there is a dielectric material between the plates the capacitance of the capacitor becomes larger than vacuum capacitance . The ratio of to is the dielectric constant of the material,

(4.8)

When a dielectric material is placed only half way between the plates of a capacitor (Fig. 4.4), this situation is analogous to having two capacitors in parallel, each with an area . Then the equivalent capacitance of the parallel is (4.9)

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## while changing the distance between the plates of the

capacitor and record it on the table 4.1. 2. Plot a graph of the capacitance in graph 4.1. 3. Determine the slope of best fitting trend line to the points. Calculate the electric constant from the slope according to the Eq. (4.4), record it on the table 4.1 and find percentage error (see appendix). Part II 4. Place a plastic plate as a dielectric material between the conducting plates. Make sure it is tightened contacting the whole surface of the plates of the capacitor. Measure the capacitance with the plastic plate and record it on table 4.2. Record the distance between versus the area of the plate over the distance as

the plates of the capacitor. 5. Remove the plastic plate. Keeping the same distance between the plates of the capacitor, measure the capacitance with air in between and record it on table 4.2.

6. Calculate the dielectric constant of the plastic plate using the Eq. (4.8) and record it on table 4.2. Part III 7. Place the plastic plate used in Part II, half way between the conducting plates of the capacitor as shown in Fig. 4.4. Measure the equivalent capacitance and record it on table 4.3. 8. Calculate the theoretical equivalent capacitance of the capacitor using the Eq. 4.9 and the and values you obtained in the previous part. Record the result on table 4.3 and of the capacitor

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## : _______________________ : _______________________ : _______________________ : _______________________ Instructors signature: ____________

These blanks must be written in pen (not pencil). Table 4.1 The capacitance of a plate parallel capacitor.

( )

( )

( )

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