Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Electrolytic capacitors

An electrolytic capacitor is a type of capacitor that uses an electrolyte, an ionic conducting liquid, as one of its plates, to achieve a larger capacitance per unit volume than other types. They are often referred to in electronics usage simply as "electrolytics". They are used in relatively high-current and low-frequency electrical circuits, particularly in power supply filters, where they store charge needed to moderate output voltage and current fluctuations in rectifier output. They are also widely used as coupling capacitors in circuits where AC should be conducted but DC should not. There are two types of electrolytics; aluminum and tantalum.

Electrolytic capacitors are capable of providing the highest capacitance values of any type of capacitor. However they have drawbacks which limit their use. The voltage applied to them must be polarized; one specified terminal must always have positive potential with respect to the other. Therefore they cannot be used with AC signals without a DC bias. They also have very low breakdown voltage, higher leakage current and inductance, poorer tolerances and temperature range, and shorter lifetimes compared to other types of capacitors.
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