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How to Choose PCB Capacitor ?

There can be discrete capacitors present along with the PCB capacitor. This may function as capacitors that are lumped. This is suitable because it can be used in creating a system of distribution for your top-quality design.

What is a PCB Capacitor?

Printed circuit boards can function like capacitors. This is because capacitors could be composed of two objects made of metal, put apart by a material that is non-dielectric. Therefore, combining PCB components, pads, pins, and tracks, should transform into a capacitor that will be able to destabilize frequency oscillation.

Asides from this, power and grand planes offer the necessary decoupling capacitance. You can even utilize capacitors at your PCB’s edges. You only need to get two good copper planes. This would serve as capacitors. Then we can go ahead to get discrete capacitors coupled with the capacitor of the PCB. This may function like lumped capacitors, which you’ll utilize in creating a system for distributing your design.

Decoupling Capacitor


The effectiveness of your design is dependent on some factors. This includes how the decoupling capacitors affect the printed circuit boards. Typically, this plan comes with a top and bottom layer located on the chip’s sides. You connect the vias to the ground and the power plane. The connection of the full capacitors must be done to the ground plane (unbroken) due to the fact that it has some benefits.

Their impedance level is usually the lowest. Unfortunately, if you are searching for signals of high frequency, the arrangement may fail to work. You must have a good layout. This ensures that routing doesn’t find its way into some other movements. Therefore, it is very necessary that your design features two-layer boards.

Non PCB Capacitor

In 1979, PCB capacitors were banned. This means that the manufacturers had no choice but to have something to replace it. This is the Di2-Ethylhexyl phthalate. The dielectric fluid can be seen in non-PCB ballast capacitors. Presently, there is DEHP in about one-quarter of capacitors.

The Role Embedded Capacitors Play in PCB Design

circuit board capacitor

Capacitors work in a special way. You can easily construct one by making use of aluminum foil sheets. Get two of these sheets and separate them using a shopping bag made of plastic. Next, connect the foil beneath the earth ground to the DC power supply’s negative terminal, and then connect the upper aluminum foil to the positive terminal of the power supply. Raising the voltage led to both aluminum foil plates to attract each other noisily.

Flux Capacitors Contain Layers Too

The capacitors that we make use of in our printed circuit board designs are usually different compared to the capacitor built in any student’s classroom. Before you design the circuit boards, you must know the different properties of the different types of capacitors. This will help in the planning, as well as the design.

If you are working with surface mounted and through-hole designs, you can choose capacitors using the design libraries. This choice is made based on the combination of different attributes, which includes rated voltage, nominal value tolerance, dielectric type, temperature coefficient, and capacitance.

Through-hole mounting has assumed a secondary status to the surface mount technology. However, drilling of holes and the securing of the component leads radially or axially via the board, will add some value for some specific applications. Industrial, aerospace, and military applications need reliability whenever components are subjected to environmental and mechanical stress. The types of THM capacitor are ceramic discs (non-polarized), plastic film, silver mica, coupled with tantalum and polarized electrolytic types.

The surface mount (SMT) type of capacitors do not need hole drilling through the layers. They will also mount to the PCB’s surface directly. Through-hole leads are replaced by the vials, which permits a conducting connection between the circuit board layers. The SMT capacitors mount to the two sides of the board. They also have small packages compared to the Through-hole mounting (THM) capacitors. The types of SMT capacitors include multilayer ceramic, tantalum, mica, electrolytic, and film capacitors.

Embedded Capacitors, Signals, and Circuit Boards

Today, well-known capacitors from history have taken up major roles in surface mount technology PCBs. Looking at the few capacitor types available explains how the capacitor technology has developed from the past till today and has also made an impact into the PCB design future.

There are several benefits of surface mount capacitors. These include low spurious inductance, automated assembly, and small size. Similar features were seen with older through-hole mounting types of capacitors. This offers many advantages for designers of PCB that work with SMT.

Embedded Circuit Boards and Components Now

Materials for embedded capacitance are made of a dielectric material that is usually very thin. Also, they are sandwiched between two copper layers. During the process of manufacturing, an epoxy material coating helps in laminating the copper foils. Capacitors that are embedded into the flex or rigid PCB substrate below an integrated circuit’s pin, usually have their electrical paths very short, which reduces the parasitic inductance and capacitance, and minimizes the EMI.

Due to the increase in capacitive density, the embedded capacitors could become a decoupling capacitor. Therefore, it can ensure the removal of capacitors that are discrete. When you combine these capabilities with the size reduction, embedded capacitors have become very valuable for handheld, medical, computing, and telecommunications equipment.

Smaller footprints for products have become very important. This importance has begun a revolution in the technologies of capacitors. The next step has to do with high density development, solid ultra-thin aluminum capacitors, which provide stability in high-temperature, high-voltage applications, as well as the circuits powering them.

One other electrolytic ultrathin supercapacitor functions for RF applications and microprocessor operating with low power. Designed as components that are embedded, the supercapacitors will offer a very long power life. This is to prepare for the next generation internet of things (IoT) devices, coupled with resisting shock and vibration.

Different Types of Capacitors

capacitor in pcb

Ceramic Capacitors

These capacitors are dielectric in nature, and are made from ceramic materials. Ceramic capacitors usually have small values as their capacitance. This value usually ranges between 1F to 1µF. Their capacitors have great frequency response. Also, they are never prone to the effects of parasites.

Ceramic capacitors of class 1 provide low loss, accuracy, and high stability. Their nominal value tolerance can fall within the 1% range. Ceramic operators of class 2, come with greater capacitance values. However their thermal stability is lesser and their nominal value tolerances are less sensitive. Ceramic capacitors operating with large power feature a maximum capacity of 100µF. Also, they can deal with much higher voltages, which could get to as high as 100 kV.

MLCC – Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors

These capacitors account for a large number of capacitors utilized on the surface mount printed circuit boards (PCBs) of today. All MLCC are made up of silver palladium that are interleaved or silver electrodes that are plated with nickel covered with tin (plated) and then interweaved. The dielectric type used when manufacturing the MLCCs has an effect on thermal stability and capacitance.

Capacitors that have a calcium zirconate or titanium oxide dielectric feature a lower capacitance. They also have some thermal characteristics that are very stable. When working with PCB applications involving high-frequency circuits that work with time constant, choose the high-temperature, low capacitance MLCC. The MLCCs having Barium titanate dielectric provides the high capacitance required for power supply decoupling and smoothing.

Note that the MLCCs’ high capacitance balances against the dielectric’s properties. Over time, there’s a change in the Barium titanate dielectric with the input of voltage.

MLCC capacitors feature low resistance. Due to this, they encounter few issues with the generated heat by resistance. Also, the capacitors offer a great ripple resistance.

Mica Capacitors

They function like ripple filters and decoupling capacitors in power conversion, coupling, time constant, and resonance circuits. Mica capacitors are built from mica sheets, with both sides being coated with metal that is deposited.

SMT and THM mica capacitors offer great stability, reliability, and precision. Their nominal value tolerances are either +-1%, +-2%, or +-5%.

Plastic Film Capacitors

This type of capacitor utilizes different dielectric materials. These materials segment these components for some specific applications. These include general decoupling, coupling, and filtering. Metalized film capacitors like Mylar, as well as other different polystyrene and polyester capacitors are made up of a thin metal layer, which is deposited in a plastic film connecting each lead. The film foil type of capacitors like the PTFE –polytetrafluoroethylene capacitor utilizes plastic films in separating the two electrodes made with metal foil.

FCN Capacitors

This type of capacitor features a metalized non-inductive polyethylene naphthalate film construction, which offers a similar frequency characteristics and stable temperature that are found in the traditional capacitors made of polyester film. The FCN capacitors usually have low ESR. This is why it yields a high-frequency and superior performance.

Due to this, FCN capacitors function for output filtering, power supply input, signal coupling, and EMI filtering.

Type FCP Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS) Stacked Metalized Film Capacitors

This type of capacitor has high values for their capacitance. Also, over a wide range of temperatures, their high-frequency response is excellent. Just like FCP capacitors, the Type FCA film capacitors (acrylic) provides values of high capacitance couples with a much better high-frequency filtering. Their bus noise attenuation is excellent too. FCA capacitors are composed of alloy terminals plated with copper and metalized resin film having stacked layers that are non-inductive.

Tantalum Capacitors

These capacitors utilize a thin oxide file on tantalum, which is used like an electrolytic. As the oxide layer covers the tantalum anode, and functions like the dielectric, there is a conductive cathode that envelopes the anode and the dielectric.

Though tantalum capacitors lack the present capacity seen in the aluminum electrolytic capacitors, the tantalum capacitors provide stability, endurance, and a high capacitance between 1µF and 100µF. SMT tantalum capacitors offer similar properties. This also includes a wide range of operating temperatures.

Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

This type of capacitor provides a much higher capacitance compared to other types of capacitors. However, their values for nominal tolerance are very wide. Higher values for higher capacitance make way for ripples to be smoothened by electrolytic capacitors whenever it is utilized in power supplies, and they function like coupling capacitors.

As a result of the wide values for tolerance as well as an increase in equivalent series resistance with frequency, the electrolytic capacitors don’t work with high frequencies. Surface mount electrolytic capacitors provide high temperature stability, low impedance and high capacitance.

Asides from this, these SMT electrolytic capacitors can resist vibration properly on non-stationary PCBs – printed circuit boards.

How do Capacitors Work?

capacitor on pcb

Capacitors are well-known passive components found in circuits. They are similar to the resistors. Capacitors help in storing electrical charge. They also offer different options. This depends on the design of a circuit. The capacitance has to do with the measure of the energy or charge, which can be carried by the capacitor.

When capacitors are in their basic form, they are made of two plates, with an insulator between them.   This insulator is the dielectric. Capacitors are of different types. They are composed of different dielectric materials, and can be utilized for several purposes.

The measurement of capacitance is in Farads. This unit is a fairly large one. This is why it is used generally in microfarads or picofarads. Also, capacitors may also be non-electrolytic or electrolytic. The former may be connected in whatever direction possible in the circuit. For the electrolytic capacitors, you have to install them on the circuit in the right orientation. One of the leads is positive, while the other is negative. The placing of the electrolytic capacitors may not allow your circuits to perform properly. It may even make them pop.

Capacitors may have different applications. One of their critical roles can be found in digital electronics. Here, they protect the microchips from any noise. Due to the fact that the whole charge they carry can be dumped quickly, often they are utilized in lasers and flashes coupled with capacitive sensing and circuit devices. Circuits having capacitors usually display behaviors that are dependent on frequency. This is why they can be utilized on circuits, which amplifies some frequencies.

You can add capacitors either in parallel or in series, just like resistors. However, the calculation is the direct opposite of that of the resistors. The connection of components in series has one node in common. Also, both nodes are shared anytime the connection is in parallel. The resistors connected in series should be added together, if you want to get the total value of the resistance. Also, capacitors having parallel connection should be added, if you need the total value of the capacitance.

Selecting Capacitor Components for your PCB Design

In this section, we will take you through those things you must consider to select electronic components such as capacitors during the designing of your printed circuit board.

New PCB designers will always find it as a challenge when choosing the right electronic components. Choosing these components inappropriately could cause a malfunctioning, a total failure, or an undesired operation of your printed circuit board.

Depending on the component type, there are some important parameters that designers of PCB should consider when choosing the component during the design stage. This section takes you through important consideration for choosing the main electronic components.

How to Choose Capacitors

Capacitors are utilized in different circuits. Choosing the component of your capacitor for your PCB design using just the value for the capacitance is not usually enough in the majority of applications. Just like the resistor components, the capacitors also possess tolerance factors. There is a variation in a capacitor component’s actual capacitance. This is based on the process of manufacturing, aging, DC biasing, and the operating temperature.

Therefore, the tolerances of the capacitance must be considered when choosing the component for your capacitor. The variation in price between the high and low tolerance capacitors also varies considerably. However, if price isn’t an issue for you, then we advise that you choose a capacitor having a tolerance below 10%. For the majority of low power circuits, having 10% or even 20% as tolerance is sufficient.

What Value of Capacitance will you get?

Damage could come to your capacitor if there is a stress on voltage or the voltage is higher than expected. Most times, capacitors are connected in parallel, either to an output, a sub circuit, or a circuit. The expected drop in voltage across your capacitor should be calculated or known. We recommend that your voltage buffer should be 50% over the expected drop in voltage. This means that, if your expected drop in voltage across your pcb capacitor is 10Volts, then you should choose a capacitor having a 15 volts rated voltage or more.

Lifetime expectancy or the capacitor life can be defined as the time period at which the capacitor remains healthy, and offers capacitance just the way it is designed. It is clear that this is critical, most especially for an electrolytic capacitor. A capacitor’s lifetime under conditions of normal operation is usually given on the product’s datasheet, by the manufacturer.

The capacitor’s temperature for operation ranges. This should be seen just like resistors. Based on the application type, ripple current, and the ECR value, the frequency of operation has to be viewed for designs that are advanced.

Tips on How to Place your PCB Bypass Capacitor

Placing your bypass capacitor could be a very critical phase throughout the process of designing your printed circuit board. Failing to place them the right way could cause a negative performance. Another critical situation is when you have very few capacitors for some components. Whenever cases like this arise, you should communicate the information to the engineer. This will make them update the schematic.

  • Know whether the components should be placed on the board’s bottom side
  • When many capacitors having different values are given to a supply pin on an integrated circuit, then the capacitor with the lowest value should be placed very close to your device pin.
  • Larger tantalum and non-polarized capacitors has to be placed close to the device or pin from the lowest to the highest value.
  • Devices having many power pins should have one or more bypass capacitors per power pin.
  • Make sure you check the schematic anytime you are placing a bypass capacitor due to the fact that they are usually logic input pins ‘tied high’

Disposing Your PCB Capacitor

The disposal of non-PCB capacitors usually requires user’s compliance with the regulations of the federal government, which governs the disposal. Already, a document is available, which presents guidelines to the scrap yards that reveals how this is done.

Crushing and shredding can no longer be used as an alternative. This is because it will contaminate the area where you are doing this. Due to this, removing and storing non-PCB capacitors helps in reducing and preventing you from violating the requirements.

Requirements for Disposal

Alternatively, you can dispose of the capacitors by reaching out to a transporter to help in transporting the PCB waste. In doing this, you must keep proper records. This includes the quantity of drums, the date you picked the haul, the pick-up date, and the name of the transporter.


Take note that decoupling offers reservoir energy to help in smoothing out voltage anytime a change in the amount of current drawn happens. It is normal for the supply of power to take a little time before it responds to the voltage due to inductance. Therefore, the decoupling cap has to close this gap. To achieve this, make sure it is nearer to the digital chip. Otherwise, the inductance of the lead may disrupt things quickly and therefore make it challenging to be able to get additional current quickly.




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