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Dielectric

From Academic Kids

The electrons in the molecules shift toward the positively charged left plate.  The molecules then create a leftward electric field that partially annuls the field created by the plates.  (The air gap is shown for clarity; in a real capacitor, the dielectric is in direct contact with the plates.)
The electrons in the molecules shift toward the positively charged left plate. The molecules then create a leftward electric field that partially annuls the field created by the plates. (The air gap is shown for clarity; in a real capacitor, the dielectric is in direct contact with the plates.)

A dielectric, or electrical insulator, is a substance that is highly resistant to flow of electric current. Layers of such substances are commonly inserted into capacitors to improve their performance, and the term dielectric refers specifically to this application.

The use of a dielectric in a capacitor presents several advantages. The simplest of these is that the conducting plates can be placed very close to one another without risk of contact. Also, if subjected to a very high electric field, any substance will ionize and become a conductor. Dielectrics are more resistant to ionization than air, so a capacitor containing a dielectric can be subjected to a higher voltage.

Also, dielectrics increase the capacitance of the capacitor. An electric field polarizes the molecules of the dielectric, producing concentrations of charge on its surfaces that create an electric field opposed (antiparallel) to that of the capacitor. Thus, a given amount of charge produces a weaker field between the plates than it would without the dielectric, which reduces the electric potential. Considered in reverse, this argument means that, with a dielectric, a given electric potential causes the capacitor to accumulate a larger charge.

See also

es:Dieléctrico it:Dielettrico nl:Diëlektricum ja:誘電体 pl:Dielektryk sl:Dielektrik

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