capacitance, in electricity, capability of a body, system, circuit, or device for storing electric charge. Capacitance is expressed as the ratio of stored charge in coulombs to the impressed potential difference in volts. The resulting unit of capacitance is the farad [for Michael Faraday]. In an electric circuit the device designed to store charge is called a capacitor. An ideal capacitor, i.e., one having no resistance or inductance, may be spoken of as a capacitance. When an alternating current flows through a capacitor, the capacitor produces a reactance that resists the current (see impedance). While every element of a circuit has some capacitance, it is a goal of good design to reduce such unwanted or stray capacitance to a minimum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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