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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)

Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm


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Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Automatic Digital Dielectric Constant


Measurement System
K. Krishnaveni1,Dr.R.Padma Suvarna2 and Dr.S.A.K.Jilani3
1
Research Scholar, JNTU College of Engineering, Anantapuramu
2
Professor of Physics, JNTU College of Engineering, Anantapuramu
3
Professor, ECE Dept, Madanapalle Institute of Technology and Science, Madanapalle

Abstract
One of the important studies performed in electrical and electronic device manufacturing industries is measurement of AC
Conductivity of solids. Many components are required for measuring AC conductivity by using AC bridge. Frequency
measurement is exploited in this proposed work to determine the capacitance of the sample using embedded system and astable
multivibrator to measure dielectric constant. This proposed work is an effort to improve a less costly and easily available
embedded board for the measurement of capacitance and dielectric constant of the sample under different parameters.
Keywords: Embedded system, Astable - multivibrator, Dielectric constant, sensors

1. INTRODUCTION
For both scientific research and practical applications, measurement of dielectric constant (Ꜫ) of a material is very
important. When subjected to electromagnetic fields, some liquids and solids can serve as good dielectric materials
which can have a special property of storing and dissipating electrical energy. Dielectric measurements are useful for
detecting plastic and metal weapons, explosives, drugs, biological agents and chemical agents.
The dielectric constant (Ꜫ) is defined as the ratio of the capacitance of a capacitor with dielectric (C) to the capacitance
of a capacitor without dielectric (Co).
Ꜫ = C / Co -----------------------------------(1)

Generally dielectric cell is used to find the dielectric constant of the material [1]. Most of the times, a dielectric cell
consists of two parallel metallic plates which act as electrodes and are separated by sample under test. The cell itself
acts as a capacitor and the sample acts as a dielectric medium. To measure the capacitance and dielectric constant of
the solid material, the present work is aimed to develop a useful and practical instrument with the help of Arduino
microcontroller and 555 timer without using LCR bridge. Recently, an enormous work is going on in development and
designing of sensors. Our proposed work will find its presentation in measuring dielectric constant of the material
under test.
Sensors depending on permittivity measurements are divided into two classes [2]. Changes in the real part of the
permittivity are monitored by the first type whereas the complex permittivity is related to the second type. The changes
in the capacitance of the sample is measured by the real part of the permittivity. The ratio between the imaginary part
and the real part of the complex permittivity which is known as dissipation factor (D or tanδ) relates these two
quantities. By using resonant circuits [3], very simple circuits such as bridges [4,5], astable multivibrators [6], and low
cost electrodes [7], we can measure the real part of the permittivity. To generate a square wave, we utilized 555 astable
multivibrator and Arduino microcontroller to measure the frequency. PVA + MWCNT nanocomposites are taken for
measurements by using the developed instrument.

2. PRINCIPLE
Generally a resistor and a capacitor are used in timing circuits and in oscillators [8]. RC time constant is very
important in calculating the time taken to charge the capacitor to a particular percentage of the applied voltage and this
voltage is useful to trigger a circuit to control the oscillations time period. To generate square wave forms, the 555
integrated circuit can be used as an oscillator or as an astable multi-vibrator. By using the values of R and C in the
circuit, the frequency can be determined.

Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 Page 1


IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

3. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

The Block diagram of the designed experimental instrumentation for the study of dielectric constant is shown in figure
1.

Figure 1: The block diagram

The complete system of the present work is designed with the following hardware components.
1. Astable multivibrator
2. Sample holder
3. Relay Board
4. Arduino MEGA 2560 Microcontroller
5. Electric Kettle
6. Personal computer

3.1 ASTABLE MULTIVIBRATOR


It is also known as free-running multivibrator. By using different types of components, using transistors (and associated
components) alone or by using op amps (and associated components), an astable multivibrator can be designed. By
using 555 timer we have designed an astable multivibrator, it is designed as shown in figure 2. by using different
capacitors and resistors [9].

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Figure 2. Circuit of Astable multivibrator


The external capacitor gets charged through R1 and R2 resistors. The duty cycle can be calculated from R1 and R2.
Thus the capacitor gets charged and discharged between 1/3 Vcc and 2/3 Vcc . The frequency and the charging time
and the discharging time are independent of the voltage given [10].
The charging time is
t1 = 0.963 (R1+ R2) C ----------------------- (2)

The discharging time is


t2 = 0.693 (R2) C ----------------------- (3)
Hence, the total time period is given by,
T = t1 + t2 = 0.693 (R1+ 2R2) C --------------------- (4)
Thus, the frequency of oscillation is
f = 1/T = 1.44 / ((R1 + 2R2) C --------------------- (5)

3.2 SAMPLE HOLDER


It contains two circular glass plates each of diameter 5 cm. Copper electrodes are fixed on the glass plates and the
sample of almost same diameter is sandwiched in between these glass plates. The entire arrangement is positioned in
an electric kettle for convection of temperature to the sample under examination. The sample holder is shown in figure
3.

Figure 3. Sample holder

3.3 RELAY-BOARD
To connect reference capacitor and sample under test to astable multivibrator, a two channel relay Board is used. The
astable multivibrator is under the control of microcontroller [11]. To control the relay board GPIO pins of
microcontroller are used. The two channel relay board is shown in figure 4. In connecting the sample and the
reference capacitor, the relay board acts as double pole double through switch.

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Figure 4. Relay Board

3.4 ARDUINO MEGA 2560 MICROCONTROLLER


To measure the frequency of 555 Astable multivibrator, Arduino mega board is used in the present work. By using
reference capacitor connected to the circuit [12], the frequency of the astable multivibrator is measured at first and then
the frequency is measured by the combination of the sample and the reference capacitors. Now, the difference in
frequency is measured and from it, the capacitance of the sample is calculated and finally the dielectric constant of the
sample is determined. To develop code for this application, Arduino software has been developed [13]. To measure the
temperature of the sample under test, and to display it on LCD along with dielectric constant and the capacitance of the
sample [14], a temperature sensor is also interfaced to the microcontroller.

3.5 ELECTRIC KETTLE


To maintain the temperature of the sample holder, a 500 watt electric kettle is used. The sample under test is placed in
between two similar copper electrodes which are attached to the glass plates of nearly same diameter. The entire
arrangement was placed into an electric kettle which contains a temperature sensor. By means of this the temperature
of the samples can be increased automatically. Required amount of coconut oil is poured into the kettle and then the
sample arrangement was placed so that the sensor records the temperature and this temperature is transported to the
sample arrangement. The same temperature is monitored by the instrument. To observe the instantaneous
temperature and the dielectric constant for every 0.50C difference, LCD display is interfaced with the microcontroller.

Figure 5. The entire setup with electric kettle

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

A MATLAB program is developed to record capacitance, instantaneous temperature values, dielectric constant of the
samples through USB port of the PC, and for the recording of the data.

4 EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE
By means of solution casting method, different samples of different concentrations by weight percentages (pure PVA,
0.5% CNT + PVA, 1%CNT + PVA, 2% CNT + PVA) were prepared. The samples under test are of 60 micron and
120 micron. The sample under test is placed in between two similar copper electrodes which are attached to the glass
plates of nearly same diameter. The entire arrangement was placed into an electric kettle which contains a temperature
sensor[15-16]. By means of this the temperature of the samples can be increased automatically. Required amount of
coconut oil is poured into the kettle and then the sample arrangement was placed so that the sensor records the
temperature and this temperature is transported to the sample arrangement. The same temperature is monitored by the
instrument. To observe the instantaneous temperature and the dielectric constant for every 0.50C difference, LCD
display is interfaced with the microcontroller.
To verify our experimental setup, we have examined our proposed system with different capacitors whose capacitance
values are known (standard value). The comparison of the actual values as measured from LCR Bridge (Actual value)
and the system designed by us (Measured values) are done. These two are in good agreement with each other. The
capacitance of the capacitors are taken from 1 picofarad to 1 nanofarad.

Table 1 (Comparison table of LCR bridge and proposed system capacitance measurement in the range of 1 –
10 pico farads)
Standard value LCR bridge reading Proposed System Percentage of error
In picofarads Reading in picofarads
1 0.98 0.96 -2.04082
1.2 1.21 1.3 7.438017
1.5 1.48 1.5 1.351351
2.2 2.27 2.2 -3.0837
2.7 2.74 2.9 5.839416
3.3 3.27 3.1 -5.19878
3.9 3.96 3.6 -9.09091
4.7 4.67 4.9 4.925054
5.6 5.67 5.2 -8.28924
6.8 6.72 7.1 5.654762
8.9 8.98 9.2 2.449889
9.1 9.02 8.8 -2.43902
10 10.09 10.3 2.081269

Table 2 (Comparison table of LCR bridge and proposed system capacitance


measurement in the range of 10 – 100 pico farads)

Standard LCR bridge reading Proposed System Percentage of error


value In picofarads Reading in picofarads

10 10.4 10.3 -0.961538462


12 12.7 12.2 3.937007874
15 15.4 14.6 5.194805195
22 22.09 22.5 -1.856043459
27 27.34 27.8 -1.682516459
33 33.12 32.1 3.079710145

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

39 39.07 39.7 -1.612490402


47 47.67 48.1 -0.902034823
56 56.9 56.8 0.175746924
68 67.98 67.7 0.411885849
89 88.92 89.5 -0.652271705
91 91.76 90.3 1.591107236
100 100.13 100.3 -0.169779287

Table 3 (Comparison table of LCR bridge and proposed system capacitance


measurement in the range of 100 pico farads – 1 nano farad)

Standard value LCR bridge reading Proposed System Percentage of error


In picofarads Reading in picofarads

100 100.05 100.1 0.049975012


120 120.9 120.3 -0.496277916
150 150.06 150 -0.039984006
220 220.67 220.7 0.013594961
270 270.4 270.3 -0.036982249
330 330.9 328.1 -0.846177093
390 391.2 389 -0.562372188
470 469.8 471 0.255427842
560 558.5 561.3 0.501342883
680 681.2 679.4 -0.264239577
890 890.9 891.2 0.033673813
910 909.4 910.3 0.098966351
1000 1000.06 1000.4 0.03399796

For the above data, the corresponding error graphs are drawn. From the graphs, (figure 6 to figure 8), it was observed
that the capacitance of the capacitors as measured by our proposed system for different capacitors were in good
agreement with the capacitance of the capacitors as measured by LCR bridge values.

Figure 6. (A graph showing LCR Bridge values and System reading values for capacitance values from 1 to 10
pico farads)

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Figure 7 (A graph showing LCR Bridge values and System reading values for capacitance values from 10 to 100
pico farads )

Figure 8 (A graph showing LCR Bridge values and System reading values for capacitance values from 100 pico
farads to 1 nano farad )

We have also examined the capacitance of our samples (PVA + MWCNT) for 60 micron with both LCR bridge and the
instrumentation developed by us. These values are also in good agreement with each other. Hence, we assume that our
experimental setup is working as expected. The graphs are drawn and are represented in the figure 9 to figure 11.

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Capacitance measurement accuracy plot


for 0.5% CNT + PVA
11.5
system value (in pico farads)

11
10.5
10
9.5
9
9 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5

LCR bridge value( in pico farads)

Figure 9 ( A graph showing comparison of capacitance value for 0.5%CNT + PVA, 60 micron sample by both LCR
bridge and by our proposed system)

Figure10 ( A graph showing comparison of capacitance value for 1% CNT + PVA, 60 micron sample by both LCR
bridge and by our system)

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Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
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Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

Capacitance measurement accuracy plot


for 2% CNT + PVA
36

34
System value (in pico farads)

32

30

28

26

24
24 26 28 30 32 34 36
LCR bridge value (in pico farads)

Figure 11 ( A graph showing comparison of capacitance value for 2% CNT + PVA, 60 micron sample by both LCR
bridge and by our system)

Reasons for errors while measuring capacitance of the samples and capacitors:

 Transformer ratios
By using two capacitors of technically equal value, the corrections can be determined.
The calibration method and error analysis related to 1:10 or 10:1 ratio transformer are discussed in detail by
Cutkosky and Shields [17].
 Uncertainties in external bridge components:
During routine calibrations when nitrogen dielectric capacitors are used as the reference standards, the
uncertainty analysis is based on the performance of such capacitors as published by the manufacturer [18].
The voltage dependence of a group of the 10 pf capacitors was observed in [19] by measuring their capacitance
and dissipation factors from 100v to 200v. The uncertainty of measuring the voltage dependence of 100 pf and
1000 pf air capacitors is reported to be in the order of 0.001 ppm [20].
 Temperature corrections
Hysteresis effects of temperature on the capacitance of fused-silica dielectric capacitors are known to exist and
these introduce errors in the corrections.
 Lead impedance
In general, the effects of leads that are used to convert a capacitor, to a bridge can be represented by the
capacitor in series with a resistor and an inductor.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


By means of solution casting method, PVA + MWCNT nanocomposites were prepared. We have designed a low-cost
embedded system for measuring Ac impedance spectroscopy measurements. By testing the capacitance of different
capacitors with our proposed instrument and with the LCR bridge values, we observed that both are in good agreement
with each other.

CONCLUSION
For the measurement of capacitance and dielectric constant at different temperatures, both hardware and software were
developed. The data was captured by means of pc interfaced with our system. The proposed system was verified by the
polymer samples as well as with the known capacitors.

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IPASJ International Journal of Electrical Engineering (IIJEE)
Web Site: http://www.ipasj.org/IIJEE/IIJEE.htm
A Publisher for Research Motivation ........ Email:editoriijee@ipasj.org
Volume 7, Issue 4, April 2019 ISSN 2321-600X

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AUTHORS
1. K.Krishnaveni received the M.Sc.degree in Physics from Sri krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur in 1997. Received
M.Phil in physics from JNTU, College of Engineering, Anantapur, in 2005. And Persuing Ph.D in physics from JNTU,
College of Engineering , Anantapur.
2. Dr. R. Padma Suvarna is working as Professor and HOD, Department of physics, JNTU College of Engineering,
Anantapur. Her areas of research are AC conductivity Measurement Techniques and Computer Aided Instrumentation.
She has more than 20 years of teaching experience.
3. Dr.S.A.K.Jilani is working as the Professor and Project coordinator in the department of ECE, Madanapalle Institute of
Technology and Sciences, Madanapalle. He has 16 years of teaching experience.

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