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Capacitors and Inductors

Experiment #13 from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Beyond Mechanics

Education Level
High School


By now you have examined the effect that resistors have on the electric potential and current in DC circuits. In such circuits, the electric potential and current reach a steady state almost instantaneously. In this experiment, you will examine the transient states that occur in DC circuits when two different kinds of circuit elements–capacitors and inductors–are placed in series with a resistor. Your goal is to determine expressions that relate the time rate of change in the electric potential and current to system parameters.


In this experiment, you will

  • Collect electric potential and current data in a DC circuit in which a capacitor or an inductor is placed in series with various resistors.
  • Analyze the potential vs. time graphs for capacitors and inductors.
  • Determine the best-fit equations for the potential vs. time graphs.
  • Determine the quantity of charge stored by a capacitor from a graph of current vs. time.
  • Relate the parameters in the best-fit equations for potential vs. time to their physical counterparts in the system.

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This experiment is #13 of Advanced Physics with Vernier — Beyond Mechanics. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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