What are some examples of capacitors used in circuits?

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Jul 16, 2014

They are used to store energy and then release it when needed.

Case 1: Camera flash
A camera flash requires a lot of energy in a short space of time in order to produce a bright enough flash. A battery does not have sufficient power to produce a bright enough flash. An array of capacitors can store enough energy and release it very quickly across the bulb filament.

Case 2: Computer emergency shutdown
If a computer loses power it will not be able to shutdown safely. But a capacitor array can be used to provide enough time to save critical files and limit the damage from a power loss. The capacitors charge automatically when the computer is powered on. If the computer loses power the capacitors will automatically discharge through the circuitry thereby providing a short time in which the computer can save critical files etc.

Case 3: AC to DC conversion
This is not strictly an energy storage facility. The key part of AC to DC conversion is a rectifier. The problem with the output from a rectifier is that it is not smooth (it has the peaks of the sinusoidal AC signal). Capacitors in the circuit can be charged at the peaks and then discharge during the gaps which smooths the signal. In terms of energy storage the capacitors take some of the energy from the peak and release it during the gap so that the output energy is roughly constant.

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