A capacitor (formerly known as condenser) is a device for storing electric charge. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two conductors separated by a non-conductor. Capacitors used as parts of electrical systems, for example, consist of metal foils separated by a layer of insulating film.
Charge separation in a parallel-plate capacitor causes an internal electric field. A dielectric (orange)
reduces the field and increases the capacitance.
A capacitor consists of two conductors separated by a non-conductive region. The non-conductive region is called the dielectric or sometimes the dielectric medium. In simpler terms, the dielectric is just an electrical insulator. Examples of dielectric mediums are glass, air, paper, vacuum, and even a semiconductordepletion region chemically identical to the conductors. A capacitor is assumed to be self-contained and isolated, with no net electric charge and no influence from any external electric field. The conductors thus hold equal and opposite charges on their facing surfaces, and the dielectric develops an electric field. In SI units, a capacitance of one farad means that one coulomb of charge on each conductor causes a voltage of one volt across the device
Several capacitors in parallel.
For capacitors in parallel
Capacitors in a parallel configuration each have the same applied voltage. Their capacitances add up. Charge is apportioned among them by size. Using the schematic diagram to visualize parallel plates, it is apparent that each capacitor contributes to the total surface area.
For capacitors in series
Several capacitors in series.
Connected in series, the schematic diagram reveals that the separation distance, not the plate area, adds up. The capacitors each store instantaneous charge build-up equal to that of every other capacitor in the series. The total voltage difference from end to end is apportioned to each capacitor according to the inverse of its capacitance. The entire series acts as a capacitor smaller than any of its components.
Capacitors are combined in series to achieve a higher working voltage, for example for smoothing a high voltage power supply. The voltage ratings, which are based on plate separation, add up, if capacitance and leakage currents for each capacitor are identical. In such an application, on occasion series strings are connected in parallel, forming a matrix. The goal is to maximize the energy storage of the network without overloading any capacitor