Effectiveness of Paper, Vinyl, and Laminate at Increasing Capacitance of a Parallel Plate Capacitor

Our objectives in this experiment were twofold: to determine the effect of various materials at increasing capacitance, and to determine if we could accurately measure the dielectric constant of those materials by comparing our values to recorded standards. The materials that we used in this experiment were paper, vinyl, and laminate; we also varied the thicknesses of the materials between one and two millimeters to see if thickness had an effect on capacitance. The material was placed between the plates of a parallel plate capacitor, and the capacitance of the system was recorded with a capacitance meter. The material was then removed from the system and the capacitance of the system without a material present (capacitance of air) was recorded. The capacitance of air was needed to experimentally determine the dielectric constant of the material. Multiple t-tests confirmed that the dielectric constant found via experimentation was not within the margin of error; our values did not match the recorded values. With the descriptive analysis, we discovered that laminate was the most effective at increasing capacitance, while vinyl was the least effective. Thickness did have an effect on capacitance - as thickness increased from one to two millimeters, capacitance fell - but the dielectric constant was not affected by the increase in the dielectric's thickness.

Research Done By:

Matthew Tse
Cousino High School

Paul Webb
Warren Woods Tower High School