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Tech Talk

What Are Variable Capacitors?


Variable capacitors may have their capacitance changed by mechanical motion. Generally two versions of variable capacitors has to be to distinguished

  • Tuning capacitor – variable capacitor for intentionally and repeatedly tuning an oscillator circuit in a radio or another tuned circuit

  • Trimmer capacitor – small variable capacitor usually for one-time oscillator circuit internal adjustment

Variable capacitors include capacitors that use a mechanical construction to change the distance between the plates, or the amount of plate surface area which overlaps. They mostly use air as dielectric medium.

Semiconductive variable capacitance diodes are not capacitors in the sense of passive components but can change their capacitance as a function of the applied reverse bias voltage and are used like a variable capacitor. They have replaced much of the tuning and trimmer capacitors.

Source: Wikipedia