Types of Electrolytic Capacitors

Written by justin mitchell
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Types of Electrolytic Capacitors
Electrolytic capacitors come in many types. (circuit board with capacitors 1 image by Mograph from Fotolia.com)

Electrolytic capacitors are electronic components that store electric charge. What distinguishes them from other types of capacitors is the manner in which they store that charge. Electrolytic capacitors make use of an electrolyte, a liquid or jellylike substance with a high level of electric conductance, in order to store electricity. Most other capacitors make use of a solid material of some type. Electrolytic capacitors come in several different types.

Axial Electrolytic Capacitors

Axial electrolytic capacitors are so named for the manner in which the capacitors leads -- the wires which run in and out of the capacitor -- are situated on the component. Most capacitors are shaped like tiny barrels with two wires running out of them. In axial electrolytic capacitors, the leads are located on the opposite ends of the capacitor. Axial electrolytic capacitors are large in size and usually lay horizontally on circuit boards.

Radial Electrolytic Converters

Radial electrolytic capacitors are also named for the orientation of their leads. However, unlike axial electrolytic capacitors, radial electrolytic capacitors have both of their leads on one end. Radial capacitors are usually smaller than axial capacitors, and they stand straight upright on a circuit board.

Polarised Electrolytic Converters

Most electrolytic capacitors are polarised, meaning that they require the incoming current to be of a particular polarity in order to function correctly. This means positive current only can run through the positive terminals and negative only through the negative terminal.

Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors

Electrolytic capacitors can also be categorised by the substance from which their outer coating is made. The most common material is aluminium. These electrolytic capacitors have cathode and anode plates that are separated by an absorbent spacer. Metal tabs attach to the plates, and they are rolled together. The top part of the capacitor is bathed in the electrolyte, providing the capacitor with its conductance capacity. This process is called impregnation.

Tantalum Bead Capacitors

Tantalum bead capacitors are a type of electrolytic capacitor. They are named for the type of electrolyte they use, tantalum. These capacitors are made by taking tantalum powder and baking it. This baking creates a crack in the middle of the powder. Electric current can be stored inside of this crack. Tantalum electrolytic capacitors can store a very high level of electronic current, and are able to maintain a very high level of stability as well.

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