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The Electrolytic Capacitor

An electrolytic capacitor is composed of a metal layer and a conductive polymer (the electrolyte). In between lies a thin metal oxide layer that serves as an insulating layer which serves as a dielectric.

The electrolytic capacitor has, due to its design, some special properties...

  • A electrolytic capacitor has a higher capacity than ceramic capacitors.
  • Capacities are typically between 1 μF and 1000 μF.
  • Elektrolytic capacitors have a polarity (positive and negative electrodes).
  • Electrolytic capacitors can only be operated in DC circuits.


The amount of energy a capacitor can hold is called capacity. The unit of capacity is Farad (symbol F). In circuit diagrams and formulas a capacitor is represented by a C.

In practice, capacitors have much lower capacity than 1 farad ...

1 millifarad     = 1 mF    = 0,001 F

1 mikrofarad   = 1 μF    = 0,000 001 F

1 nanofarad    = 1 nF    = 0,000 000 001 F

1 pikofarad     = 1 pF    = 0,000 000 000 001 F

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