Capacitance is the ratio of the amount of electric charge stored on a conductor to a difference in electric potential. There are two closely related notions of capacitance: self capacitance and mutual capacitance.: 237–238 Any object that can be electrically charged exhibits self capacitance. In this case the electric potential difference is measured between the object and ground. A material with a large self capacitance holds more electric charge at a given potential difference than one with low capacitance. The notion of mutual capacitance is particularly important for understanding the operations of the capacitor, one of the three elementary linear electronic components (along with resistors and inductors). In a typical capacitor, two conductors are used to separate electric charge, with one conductor being positively charged and the other negatively charged, but the system having a total charge of zero. The ratio in this case is the magnitude of the electric charge on either conductor and the potential difference is that measured between the two conductors.
|μF, nF, pF|
|In SI base units||F = A2 s4 kg−1 m−2|
|C = charge / voltage|
|Dimension||M−1 L−2 T4 I2|
The capacitance is a function only of the geometry of the design (e.g. area of the plates and the distance between them) and the permittivity of the dielectric material between the plates of the capacitor. For many dielectric materials, the permittivity and thus the capacitance, is independent of the potential difference between the conductors and the total charge on them.
The SI unit of capacitance is the farad (symbol: F), named after the English physicist Michael Faraday. A 1 farad capacitor, when charged with 1 coulomb of electrical charge, has a potential difference of 1 volt between its plates. The reciprocal of capacitance is called elastance.