The effect of trapped charge on series capacitors

Mark C James, Jonathan R. Solheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

If capacitors are initially charged before placing them in series, charge becomes trapped on the electrically isolated internal plates. The effect of this "trapped charge" on the final charge and voltage distributions in series capacitor networks provides instructors with a new class of engaging capacitor problems not currently addressed in introductory physics textbooks. We present formulae for the final charges on two series capacitors connected to a battery in terms of initial charge values. Various special cases are also considered. Results are verified experimentally using dc voltage and RC time constant measurements. Practical considerations for experimental design are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-627
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Volume83
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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capacitors
textbooks
instructors
electric potential
charge distribution
time constant
electric batteries
physics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

The effect of trapped charge on series capacitors. / James, Mark C; Solheim, Jonathan R.

In: American Journal of Physics, Vol. 83, No. 7, 2015, p. 621-627.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

James, Mark C ; Solheim, Jonathan R. / The effect of trapped charge on series capacitors. In: American Journal of Physics. 2015 ; Vol. 83, No. 7. pp. 621-627.
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