Capacitors

Capacitors consist of two conductors (or plates) an insulator (dielectric) which are wired to two electrical connections on the outside called terminals. They gather and hold a charge in a way similar to batteries and can keep it even when the voltage is no longer applied. Adding energy to a capacitor is called charging and releasing it is called discharging. This release of energy can be done in a fraction of a second. The types of capacitor depend on its size, maximum voltage, leakage current, ESR (equivalent series resistance) and tolerance; they can be used in series or parallel. One type is the film capacitor which is used for low parasitic losses. Aluminium electrolytic and tantalum electrolytic capacitors are specifically designed for high voltages. Decoupling capacitors reduce the effect of noise caused by other circuit elements. Large supercapacitors can be used instead of batteries. Other kinds include variable capacitors, used as an alternative to resistors, and mica capacitors. Capacitors are energy-storing devices which are largely used in television, radios and electrical equipment. The burst of energy provided for the flash of a camera comes from a capacitor. They are also necessary for signal processing, power conditioning suppression and coupling, motor starters and pulse weapons.

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