AP Physics 2 : Capacitor Energy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Physics 2

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Example Questions

Example Question #121 : Circuits

Consider the circuit:

Circuit_3__capacitors_

If the voltage drop across C2 is 5V, what is the total energy stored in C2 and C3?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

In parallel branches of a circuit, the voltage drops are all the same. Therefore, we know that the voltage drop across C3 is also 5V.

We can then use the following equation to calculate the total stored energy:

Since the voltage is the same for both capacitors, we can simply add the two capacitances to do one calculation for energy:

Example Question #122 : Circuits

 capacitor is connected to a  battery. Once the capacitor is fully charged, how much energy is stored?

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers is correct

Correct answer:

Explanation:

To find the amount of energy stored in a capactior, we use the equation

.

We're given the capacitance (), and the voltage (), so we'll use the third equation.

Example Question #123 : Circuits

You have 4 capacitors, , and , arranged as shown in the diagram below.

4capacitorcircuit

Their capacitances are as follows:

If you have a 6V battery connected to the circuit, what's the total energy stored in the capacitors?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

The equation for energy stored in a capacitor is 

We can find the capacitance by adding the capacitors together, and we have the voltage, so we'll use the second equation, .

When adding capacitors, remember how to add in series and parallel.

Capacitors  and  are in series,  and  are in parallel, and  and  are in parallel.

Now that we have the total capacitance, we can use the earlier equation to find the energy.

The total energy stored is 121.5J. 

Example Question #124 : Circuits

Physics2set1q3

If ,  and , how much energy is stored in ?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Physics2set1q3

In this circuit, the voltage source,  and , and  are all in parallel, meaning they share the same voltage.

To find the energy, we can use the formula

, with  being the energy,  being the capacitance, and being the voltage drop across that capacitor.

To use the formula we need the voltage across .

Another hint we can use is that  and  having the same charge since they're in series. First let's find the equivalent capacitance:

Now, we can use the formula 

 to calculate charge in the capacitor.

Now that we know a charge of  exists in both capacitors, we can use the formula again to find the voltage in only .

Finally, we plug this  into the first equation to calculate energy.

Example Question #125 : Circuits

Imagine a capacitor with a magnitude of charge Q on either plate. This capacitor has area A, separation distance D, and is not connected to a battery. If some external agent pulls the capacitor apart such that D doubles, did the internal energy, U, stored in the capacitor increase, decrease or stay the same?

Possible Answers:

Stays constant

Decrease

We must know the dielectric constant

Increases

Correct answer:

Increases

Explanation:

Equations required:

 

We see from the first equation the when D is doubled, C will be halved (since  and  are constant). From the third equation, we seed that when C is halved, the potential energy, U will double.

Example Question #126 : Circuits

Imagine a capacitor with a magnitude of charge Q on either plate. This capacitor has area A, separation distance D, and is connected to a battery of voltage V. If some external agent pulls the capacitor apart such that D doubles, did the internal energy, U, stored in the capacitor increase, decrease or stay the same?

Possible Answers:

Decreases

Increases

Increases by a factor of exactly 2

Stays constant

Correct answer:

Decreases

Explanation:

Relevant equations:

 

We must note for this problem that the voltage, V, is kept constant by the battery. Looking at the second equation, if C changes (by changing D) then Q must change when V is held constant. This means that our formula for U must be altered. How can we make claims about U if Q and C are both changing? We need a constant variable in the equation for U so that we can make a direct relationship between D and U. If we plug in the second equation into the third we arrive at:

Now, we know that V is held constant by the battery, so when C decreases (because D doubled) we see that U actually decreases here. So it matters whether or not the capacitor is hooked up to a battery.

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