Effect of Dielectric Capacitance

Definition of Dielectric

Dielectric is an electrical insulator that is polarized by an applied electric field. When a dielectric material is kept in an electric field, electric charges do not flow through the material as they flow in an electrical conductor. They only slightly shift from their average equilibrium positions and cause dielectric polarization. Because of dielectric polarization, positive charges are displaced in the direction of the field and negative charges shift in the direction which is opposite to the field. This further creates an internal electric field which reduces the overall field within the dielectric itself. If a dielectric composes of weakly bonded molecules, those molecules become polarized, then reorient.


What are Capacitors?

Capacitors can also be called Electric-condensers. A capacitor is a two-terminal electronic component that has the capacity to store energy in the form of an electric charge. They are usually designed to enhance and increase the effect of capacitance. So, they take into account properties like size and shape. The storage capacity of capacitance varies from small to high storage.


Use of Dielectric in Capacitors

Manufactured capacitors use a solid dielectric material as the intervening medium between the stored positive and negative charges. The advantage of using such a dielectric material is that it prevents the conducting plate from coming into direct electrical contact. However, a high permittivity can allow a greater stored charge at a given voltage. It can be seen by treating the case of a linear dielectric with permittivity ε and thickness d between two conducting plates with uniform charge density σε. Here, the charge density is given by


\[\sigma \epsilon = \frac{\epsilon V}{d}\]


And the capacitance per unit area by

\[c = \frac{\sigma \epsilon}{V} = \frac{\epsilon}{d}\]


Through this, it can be seen that a larger ε leads to the greater charge stored and so, greater capacitance.


Dielectric materials used in capacitors are also chosen according to their resistance to ionization. This helps the capacitor to operate at higher voltages before the insulating dielectric ionizes and begins to allow undesirable current.


Effect of Dielectric on Capacitance

When a dielectric is placed between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor occupying the region, the dielectric is polarized by the electric field. The surface charge densities are called σp and - σp.


The dielectric constant of a substance is the phenomenon by which the capacitance increases from its vacuum value when the dielectric is completely inserted in between the plates of the capacitor


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The Capacitance of Parallel Plate Capacitor with Dielectric Slab

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On the two plates, the microscopic dipole moment of the material will shield the charges. So, it will alter the effect of dielectric material that is inserted between the two plates. Materials have a permeability that is given by the relative permeability K


The capacitance is thus given by:

\[C = \frac{\epsilon A}{d} = k\frac{\epsilon_{0}A}{d}\]


By placing the dielectric between the plates, the parallel plate capacitor’s capacitance can be increased because the dielectric has a relative permittivity k greater than 1.k is also sometimes known as Dielectric Constant.


Some Practical Dielectrics

Dielectric materials can be solids, liquids, or gases. Solid dielectrics are most commonly used in electrical engineering, and they are very good insulators. Examples include porcelain, glass, and plastics. Air, nitrogen, and sulfur hexafluoride are three commonly used gaseous dielectrics.

  • Industrial coatings provide a dielectric barrier between the substrate and its environment. For example- Parylene.

  • Mineral oil is used inside electrical transformers as a fluid dielectric and to assist in cooling. Dielectric fluids that have higher dielectric constants are often used in high voltage capacitors to help prevent corona discharge and increase the capacitance.

  • As dielectrics resist the flow of electricity, the surface of a dielectric can retain stranded excess electrical charges. This may occur when the dielectric is rubbed. This can be useful or it can be potentially destructive as in the case of electrostatic discharge.


Did You Know?

  • The value of the static dielectric constant of all materials is greater than one, its value for a vacuum. 

  • The value of the dielectric constant at room temperature (25°C, or 77°F) is 1.00059 for air, 2.25 for paraffin, 78.2 for water, and about 2,000 for barium titanate (BaTiO3) when the electric field is applied perpendicularly to the principal axis of the crystal. 

  • As the value of the dielectric constant for air is nearly the same as a vacuum, air does not increase the capacitance of a capacitor for all practical purposes. 

  • Dielectric constants of liquids and solids are determined by comparing the value of capacitance when the dielectric is in place to its value when the capacitor is filled with air.

  • The presence of dielectric material affects all other electrical phenomena. 

  • The capacitance of a capacitor filled with a dielectric is greater than it is in a vacuum.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Dielectric Constant?

When a dielectric slab is kept between two plates of a parallel plate capacitor, the ratio of applied electric field strength to the strength of the reduced value of the electric field capacitor is called dielectric constant is given as:


K = E₀/E.

E₀ is greater than or equal to E . E₀ is the field with slab and E is the field without it. The larger the dielectric constant, the more charge could be stored. By filling the space between capacitor plates with a dielectric, it increases the capacitance by a factor of the dielectric constant:


C = KC₀

where C₀ is capacitance with no slab between the plates.

2. What is Dielectric Relaxation?

Momentary delay in the dielectric constant of a material is Dielectric Relaxation which is caused by the delay in molecular polarization with respect to a changing electric field in a dielectric medium. In physics, dielectric relaxation means the relaxation response of a dielectric medium to an oscillating electric field. This relaxation is often described in terms of permittivity as a function of frequency which can be described by the Debye equation. The distortion that is related to ionic and electronic polarization shows the behavior of the oscillator type. The character of the distortion process depends upon the structure, composition, and surroundings of the sample.