[ we make science jokes, periodically ]

Capacitors, Clarified

Capacitors are fundamental electrical components, along with resistors, inductors, and various integrated circuits. Capacitors are found in nearly all electronic devices. Flashlights? Got em. Nintendo Switch? Yup. TVs? Those too! Refrigerators? You know it!

So what is a capacitor?

Capacitors store and release electrical energy. When too much electricity comes in, it stores the extra; when too little electricity goes out, it uses stored electricity to make up for what it needs. How much energy they can keep is measured in a unit called Farads.

Capacitors can be as small as an ant or as large as a trash can and come in a rainbow of colors. Capacitors are made of different types of materials, from paper to polycarbonate. The type of capacitor used depends on the application. Each class has a specialty. For example, film capacitors are good at keeping a fixed charge through temperature changes, while other types may change how much they store depending on their temperature. If accuracy is essential, glass capacitors always keep a very exact charge.

Capacitors can be used as timing devices, as filters, for smoothing circuits' voltage, tuning, and several other purposes. Large supercapacitors can also be used instead of batteries.