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Advantages of Tantalum Capacitor | Disadvantages of Tantalum Capacitor

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of Tantalum Capacitor and its basics. It mentions benefits or advantages of Tantalum Capacitor and drawbacks or disadvantages of Tantalum Capacitor.

What is Tantalum Capacitor?

These capacitors are subtype of electrolytic capacitors. They use tantalum metal for its anode part covered by oxide layer and surrounded by conductive cathode. The thin oxide layer acts as dielectric layer which allows high capacitance per volume and superior frequency and stability performance over time. Like electrolytic, they are also polarized capacitors. Hence polarity of the capacitor is to be checked before connecting it with DC power supply.

The figure depicts positive lead (i.e. anode) and negative lead (i.e. cathode) of a tantalum capacitor. Tantalum capacitors are used for wide range of applications such as commercial, industrial, military, medical, automotive, space etc. The typical functions of such capacitors are power conversion & distribution, filtering, energy storage etc.

Tantalum capacitor

They are available with capacitance ranging from 1nF to 72mF. Voltage ratings of tantalum capacitors varies from 2V to greater than 500V. ESR value of this capacitor is 10 times less compare to aluminium electrolytic capacitor and hence it allows higher currents to pass through it with less heat.

The typical specifications to be considered for selection of tantalum capacitors are as follows.
• Capacitance range
• Operating voltage range
• ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance)
• ESL (Equivalent Series Inductance)
• Operating temperature range
• Case sizes
• Type (Surface Mount, Axial leaded, Conformal coated)
• Qualification (DLA, AEC-Q200, ISO-13485, RoHS, EIA 717)

Benefits or advantages of Tantalum Capacitor

Following are the benefits or advantages of Tantalum Capacitor:
➨It offers stable performance over operating temperature and voltage range compare to ceramic capacitor.
➨It offers stable performance over longer life span due to no wear out.
➨It occupies less space on the PCB and hence allows higher packing densities. Hence they are used in laptops and mobile phones requiring space constraints.
➨Chip type tantalum capacitors with bottom electrodes prevent short circuits.
➨They are stronger against stress caused due to board deflection and allows them to be used at the ends of the PCBs.
➨Tantalum capacitors do not have piezoelectric characteristics. As a result, they do not resonate during fluctuations in voltage. Hence undesired noise is not generated. This ensures worry free operation.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of Tantalum Capacitor

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of Tantalum Capacitor:
➨The failure of tantalum capacitors may lead to fires, thermal runaway and smaller explosions. This can be prevented or avoided by use of fuses and current limiters in the circuit.
➨Exposing these capacitors at high temperatures lower their reliability. Hence it increases their susceptibility to failure.
➨It can not withstand reverse or excess voltage.
➨They are expensive.
➨They have lower ripple current ratings.

Also refer Capacitor basics >> which describes about capacitors in series and parallel configurations and its types.

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