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Maxwell's Equations

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Students apply Maxwell's equations to derive an expression for the capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor and to derive an expression for the inductance of a solenoid inductor. These expressions are then checked in the laboratory using the resonance feature of a parallel LC circuit.

Specific student activities include:

a. construction of large capacitors from large metal plates and measurement of their capacitance;

b. measurement of the capacitance of the constructed capacitor when the area of overlap of the plates is changed;

c. measurement of the capacitance of the constructed capacitor when the spacing between the plates is changed;

d. determination of the effect on the capacitance of placing a dielectric between the plates;

e. experimental measurement of some large provided solenoids; and

f. computation of a value for the permittivity of free space from the data taken.

Quantitative results tend to be within 7% of predicted values (generally closer to 2%).

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