What is inductance? Electric inductance is a property of all conductors. A change in the current flowing through the conductor creates (induces) a voltage in that conductor, as well as all nearby conductors. The induced voltage opposes the change in the current that induced the voltage. Inductance is a consequence of two laws of physics. Firstly, a constant current flowing through a conductor creates a constant magnetic field. Secondly, a variable magnetic field induces a voltage in all nearby conductors, including the conductor which was used to create the magnetic field in the first place. When these two laws are combined, the resulting effect is inductance. Just like resistors are used to introduce a desired resistance in a circuit, and like capacitors are used to introduce a desired capacitance, inductors are electrical elements used to introduce a desired amount of inductance into the circuit. The inductance formula for an ideal solenoid (a coil of wire) wound around a cylindrical body of material is given as:     where L is the inductance, µ is the magnetic permeability of the material used in the inductor, A is the cross-sectional area of the coil and l is the length of the solenoid (not the length of the wire, but the longitudinal dimension of the coil). An ideal capacitor has no resistance and no inductance, but has a defined and constant value of capacitance. The unit used to represent inductance is henry, named after Joseph Henry, an American scientist who discovered inductance. Parasitic inductance Parasitic inductance is an unwanted inductance effect that is unavoidably present in all real electronic devices. As opposed to deliberate inductance, which is introduced into the circuit by the use of an inductor, parasitic inductance is almost always an undesired effect. There are few applications in which parasitic inductance is [… read more]

What is capacitance? Electric capacitance is the ability of a conducting body to accumulate charge. The capacitance value of a capacitor is obtained by using the formula: where C is the capacitance, Q is the amount of charge stored on each electrode, and V is the voltage between the two electrodes. In real life circuits the amount of charge on one plate equals the amount of charge on the other plate of a capacitor, but these two charges are of different signs. By examining this formula it can be deduced that a 1 F capacitor holds 1 C of charge when a voltage of 1V is applied across its two terminals. The unit of capacitance The unit of capacitance is a Farad [F]. This unit can be somewhat impractical. From the vantage point of most electrical engineers, one farad is a huge capacitance value. Most electronic circuits use capacitors of only up to a few mF. There are several good reasons for this. One reason is that, when dealing with signals in an electrical circuit, as the frequency of the signal increases, the need for high capacitance capacitors decreases because, at higher frequencies, even a small capacitor can make a big impact on the circuit. Since most modern digital circuitry has a tendency to move towards higher frequencies in order to meet demands for improved processing speed, these circuits mostly use capacitors of only up to a few mF. As a result, the need for large capacitors is virtually non-existent in the signals processing parts of electrical circuits. Another reason is that high capacitance capacitors are physically large. Therefore, the use of such capacitors is avoided, especially in mobile devices. However, there have been recent technology advances in the field of supercapacitors. Thanks to these advances, it is now possible [… read more]