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# Course and Section_______ Names ___________________________

Date___________ _________________________________

CAPACITORS EXPERIMENT
Short description:

In this experiment you will determine how voltages are distributed in capacitor circuits and
explore series and parallel combinations of capacitors.

Equipment:

AC power supply (set to 10V)
Three 0.1F capacitors, one 0.01F capacitor, one unknown capacitor
Multimeter
4 cables

Theory:

Capacitors are electronic devices which have fixed values of capacitance and negligible
resistance. The capacitance C is the charge stored in the device, Q, divided by the voltage
difference across the device, V:

C = Q/V (1)

The schematic symbol of a capacitor is has two vertical (or horizontal) lines a small distance
apart (representing the capacitor plates) connected to two lines representing the connecting wires

There are two ways to connect capacitors in an electronic circuit - series or parallel connection.

Series:
In a series connection the components are connected at a single point, end to end as shown
below:

For a series connection, the charge on each capacitor will be the same and the voltage drops will
add. We can find the equivalent capacitance, C
eq
, from

Q 1/C
eq
= V = V
1
+ V
2
= Q/C
1
+ Q/C
2
= Q [1/C
1
+1/C
2
] (2)

1/C
eq
= 1/C
1
+ 1/C
2
(3)

C
1
C
2
2
Parallel:
In the parallel connection, the components are connected together at both ends as shown below:

For a parallel connection, the voltage drops will be the same, but the charges will add. Then the
equivalent capacitance can be calculated by adding the charges:

C
eq
V = Q = Q
1
+ Q
2
= C
1
V + C
2
V = [C
1
+C
2
] V (5)

C
eq
= C
1
+ C
2
(6)

Procedure:

1. Turn on the power supply and set the AC voltage to 10 V. Measure the actual power
supply voltage with the multimeter and record it below:

V
PS
= ___________________V

C
1
C
2
Figure 1. Multimeter
Figure 2. AC power supply
2. Connect two 0.1 F capacitors in series. Measure V
2

(across C
2
) and record it below.

V
2
(measured) = ____________ V

3. Compute the expected value of V
2
using V
PS
, the
values of C
1
and C
2
with equations 1 and 3.
Remember that Eq. 1 is true for each capacitor,
including the combined C12.

V
2
(expected) = ____________ V

% difference = |measured - expected| / measured x 100 % = __________

4. Connect a third 0.1 F capacitor in parallel with C
2
.
Compute their equivalent capacitance C23.

C
23
= _________ F.

Measure and compute the voltage across C2. [Hint: is this the
same as the voltage across the equivalent capacitor C23? You may
want to compute the total equivalent capacitance seen by the
power supply, C123]

V
2
(measured) = ________ V,

V
2
(expected) = ________ V,

% difference = ________

5. Now remove the third capacitor C3 and replace it with a 0.01 F capacitor.
Compute their equivalent capacitance C23.

C
23
= _________ F.

Measure and compute the voltage across C2

V
2
(measured) = ________ V,

V
2
(expected) = ________ V,

% difference = ________

V
C
1
C
2
V
C
1
C
2

V
C
1
C
2
C
3

VV
C
1
C
2
C
3
6. Now connect the 0.1 F and the 0.01 F
capacitor in series. as C2 and C3. Compute the
equivalent capacitance C23

C
23
= _________ F.

Measure and compute the voltage across the equivalent capacitance C23.

V
23
(measured) = ________ V,

V
23
(expected) = ________ V,

% difference = ________

7. This method can be used to find an unknown capacitance. Replace C2 with the unknown
value capacitor and determine its capacitance by measuring V2 and using equations 1 and 3.

V
2
= ___________ V,

C
2
= _________ F.

V
C
1
C
2
C
3

VV
C
1
C
2
C
3

V
C
1
?

V
C
1
C2 =