A measure of the ability of a component to hold an electrical charge.

Capacitance is a measure of how much a component can hold an electrical charge. The two closely related notions of capacitance are self-capacitance, which is how much voltage a component can hold, and mutual capacitance, which is how much voltage a component can hold relative to other components.

Any object that can be electrically charged exhibits self-capacitance. A material with a large self-capacitance holds more electric charge at a given voltage than one with low capacitance. The notion of mutual capacitance is particularly important for understanding the operations of the capacitor, one of the three elementary linear electronic components (along with resistors and inductors).

The capacitance is a function only of the geometry of the design (e.g. area of the plates and the distance between them) and the permittivity of the dielectric material between the plates of the capacitor. For many dielectric materials, the permittivity and thus the capacitance is independent of the potential difference between the conductors and the total charge on them.

The SI unit of capacitance is the farad (symbol: F), named after the English physicist Michael Faraday. A 1-farad capacitor, when charged with 1 coulomb of electrical charge, has a potential difference of 1 volt between its plates. The reciprocal of capacitance is called elastance.

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