jb Capacitors Electrolytic Capacitors

Keywords: Polarised, DC power supply circuit, large capacitance.

Electrolytic Capacitors are generally used when very large capacitance values are required. Here instead of using a very thin metallic film layer for one of the electrodes, a semi-liquid electrolyte solution in the form of a jelly or paste is used which serves as the second electrode (usually the cathode). The dielectric is a very thin layer of oxide which is grown electro-chemically in production with the thickness of the film being less than ten microns. This insulating layer is so thin that it is possible to make capacitors with a large value of capacitance for a small physical size as the distance between the plates, D is very small.

The majority of electrolytic types of capacitors are Polarised, that is the DC voltage applied to the capacitor terminals must be of the correct polarity, i.e. positive to the positive terminal and negative to the negative terminal as an incorrect polarisation will break down the insulating oxide layer and permanent damage may result. All polarised electrolytic capacitors have their polarity clearly marked with a negative sign to indicate the negative terminal and this polarity must be followed.

Electrolytic Capacitors are generally used in DC power supply circuits due to their large capacitances and small size to help reduce the ripple voltage or for coupling and decoupling applications. One main disadvantage of electrolytic capacitors is their relatively low voltage rating and due to the polarisation of electrolytic capacitors, it follows then that they must not be used on AC supplies. Electrolytic's generally come in two basic forms: Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors and Tantalum Electrolytic Capacitors.


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