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What are Tantalum Capacitors?

Lakshmi Sandhana
Lakshmi Sandhana

Tantalum capacitors are capacitors made out of the hard metal tantalum and are widely used in numerous electronic devices such as liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors, personal computers, and telephone switchboards. They are also utilized in portable telephones, wireless gadgets, and digital cameras. They are used widely in the electronics industry because they have a high capacity density, which makes them ideal for mass-produced electronic items.

Their high capacity to store and discharge electrical charges means that they can be incorporated into numerous electronic devices that are small in size and require high capacitance, such as mobile phones. Tantalum beads, made of compacted tantalum powder, can store a high amount of electrical charge relative to their size. This allows tantalum capacitor manufacturers to build smaller capacitors, which helps to reduce the overall size of numerous electronic devices.

LCD monitor with tantalum capacitors.
LCD monitor with tantalum capacitors.

An element that possesses great strength, tantalum also has durability and corrosion resistance. It is easy to work with and can be transformed into powder, sheets, and wires at room temperature. Capacitors made of tantalum have numerous advantages over other types of capacitors, such as electrolytic capacitors.

Boasting a very high shelf life, tantalum capacitors don’t lose capacitance over time, which makes them extremely reliable. If they are used within their operational range, they last for a really long period, and their electrical properties don’t degrade over time. They also have a greater volumetric efficiency when compared to electrolytic capacitors.

Their superior frequency characteristics means that they can be used in a variety of applications where aluminum electrolytic capacitors cannot be used. They work in a very wide temperature range, from -67 degrees F(-55 degrees C) to +257 degrees F(+125 degrees C), which allows them to be used in harsh environments. Tantalum capacitors are used in situations where a high degree of reliability is needed, such as in space or medical equipment.

Able to withstand high temperatures, tantalum capacitors are often involved in modern production methods. For example, they can survive the process of soldering components to a circuit board. Their high temperature tolerance allows them be easily incorporated into the latest electronic designs. The production of tantalum powders that can carry higher electrical charges have allowed smaller tantalum capacitors to be designed. This not only allows tantalum capacitors to be easily incorporated into circuit boards but has also directly resulted in the downsizing of electronic devices in general.

They do have a few disadvantages, however, such as their intolerance for excess or reverse voltage and voltage spikes. They may either explode or be destroyed in such situations. Tantalum capacitors are also more expensive in comparison to other capacitor types.

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    • LCD monitor with tantalum capacitors.
      LCD monitor with tantalum capacitors.