Capacitors - An Overview From Ceramic to Tantalum Capacitors

Did you know that capacitors are among the most used electronic components? There are many types of capacitors that suit different applications. Although all capacitors generally function in the same way, their constructions make them have different properties that suit them for different uses. Some of the capacitor types include:

  • Ceramic
  • Electrolytic
  • Film
  • Fixed
  • Plastic
  • Silver Mica
  • Tantalum
types of capacitors

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As you can deduce from the names, capacitors are essentially grouped depending on what is used to construct them. Capacitors are basically made of a thin insulating layer (dielectric) sandwiched between two conducting plates. The dielectric used determines the type of capacitor. Capacitors can also be grouped depending on their uses, such as microwave and motor capacitors. Here's a brief description of these capacitor types.

Ceramic Capacitors

Ceramic capacitors are among the oldest types, some of which are obsolete. They are made by coating two sides of a small ceramic disc with silver. They usually have very low capacitance values, ranging from a few picofarads (pF) to about two microfarads (μF). Their capacitance values are usually printed on their bodies in a three-digit code. They are largely used in RF and audio circuits.

types of capacitors

Electrolytic Capacitors

These capacitors are made of a paste or jelly of semi-liquid electrolyte solution and a thin oxide layer. The capacitors generally have high capacitance values and many of them are polarized, meaning that they are suitable for DC power supply and other low-frequency applications.

There are different sub-categories of electrolytic capacitors, including aluminum and tantalum capacitors. Tantalum capacitors have relatively high capacitance values per volume and frequency characteristics. However, they are more sensitive to reverse polarization, often leading to thermal runaway and explosions.

Apart from their different shapes, aluminum electrolytic capacitors usually have their negative terminals marked while the tantalum ones have their positive terminals marked.

Dielectric Capacitors

Capacitors may be fixed or variable. Dielectric capacitors are the variable type, which have a set of fixed plates (stator vanes) and movable ones (rotor vanes), with air separating the plates. Sliding the movable plates changes capacitance. The capacitors are used in tuning receivers, transmitters and transistor radios.

Whether you are looking for hard-to-find or obsolete capacitors, call us today at (800) 226-6960.

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