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# Experimentsâ€‹

## Parallel Plate Capacitor: Potential Difference vs. Spacing

Experiment #29 from Physics with Video Analysis

Education Level
High School
College
Subject
Physics

### Introduction

A capacitor is defined as any two conductors, separated by an insulator where each conductor carries a net excess charge that is equal in magnitude and opposite in sign. Its capacitance, C, is defined as

$C \equiv \frac{Q} {V}$

where Q is the magnitude of the excess charge on each conductor and V is the voltage (or potential difference) across the plates.

We can use Gaussâ€™ Law to analyze a parallel plate capacitor if we assume that most of the electric field lines are perpendicular to the plates. According to Gauss, if air is the insulator, the capacitance, C, is related to the area of the plates, A, and the spacing between them, d, by the equation

$C = \frac{{{\varepsilon _0}A}} {d}$

Îµ0 is known as the electric constant (or permittivity).

### Objectives

In this activity, you will

• Explore how the voltage (a.k.a. potential difference) across the plates varies as the distance between the charged plates increases.

### Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.