Were going to take a close look at a new type of component this chapter: the capacitor. We shall see how capacitors function, firstly in practical experiments which you can do for yourself and then, secondly with a bit of theory (boring, boring, boring! Who said that?) which will show you a few things that cant easily be demonstrated in experiments.

So, lets get started. What exactly makes up a capacitor? Well, theres an easy answer: a capacitor is made up from two electrically conductive plates, separated from each other by a sandwiched layer of insulating material. Figure 4.1 gives you a rough idea.

A simple diagrammatic representation of a capacitor

Figure 4.1 A simple diagrammatic representation of a capacitor

However, this is an oversimplification really; there are many, many different types of capacitor and, although their basic make-up is of two insulated plates they are not always made in quite this simple form. Nevertheless, the concept is one to be going along with.

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