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Tantalum capacitor-an electrolytic capacitor with tantalum as dielectric


Tantalum capacitor is a product with small volume and large capacitance. Tantalum capacitors are suitable for surface mount small and chip components. Tantalum capacitors are not only used in military communications, aerospace and other fields, but also widely used in industrial control, film and television equipment, communication instruments and other products. With the development of miniaturization of electronic equipment, tantalum capacitors are also developing towards miniaturization and integration.

What is a Tantalum capacitor?

These capacitors are made up of tantalum metal. In this capacitor, tantalum metal serves as the anode and is protected by an oxide layer, which serves as the dielectric. A very thin dielectric layer is possible with tantalum. They are polarized components by nature. These are polarized so it means that we can only connect them with the dc supply. It stands out from other capacitors due to its great volumetric efficiency, low weight, and high capacitance.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of tantalum capacitor?

Tantalum capacitors are very stable a can be used for a very long period of time. They have also extraordinary frequency characteristics. They have also an endless shelf life. High capacitance, density, and reliability characterize them. They come in both varieties i.e., dry and wet. Tantalum capacitors come in both dry (solid) and wet (foil) electrolytic varieties. Tantalum capacitors can operate across a wide variety of temperatures. They can function in a huge range of temperatures. They are frequently designed to operate between -55C and +125C.
Tantalum capacitors are more expensive and heavier than aluminum-based capacitors. The unfavorable failure mode, which can cause thermal runaway, flames, and minor explosions, is another drawback. They are also unable to deliver large amounts of current. Additionally, their ripple current rating is not very high. Tantalum capacitors cannot survive at high or reverse voltage. They can blow up if exposed to excessive or the wrong kind of electricity.

Where are tantalum capacitors used?

Tantalum capacitors are utilized in sample and hold circuits that depend on low leakage current to accomplish long hold durations. They have also been utilized in the medical industry for devices including hearing aids, implantable defibrillators, and heart pacemakers. They have wide applications in medical devices, electrical devices and appliances, laptops and cell phone etc.

What side of a tantalum capacitor is positive?

When polarized, a tantalum capacitor has two poles: positive and negative. The capacitor is designed to be surface mounted on the printed circuit board and is primarily colored yellow. The positive pole is indicated on the housing’s surface by an end with an in-dash, while the other will be the negative side.

Why are tantalum capacitors so expensive?

There are various causes, but the following are among the most evident.
● Lower Demand and Usage.
● Limited Competition
● Tantalum material is expensive, uncommon, and needs extensive mining.

Why do tantalum capacitors fail?

Defective hermetic seal is one of the most important reasons behind the failure of tantalum capacitors. Because of which the moisture gets in and damages the capacitor and also results in the increase of the capacitance. The unfavorable failure mode, which causes thermal runaways, is another factor in the failure. Its failure might also be attributed to high leakage current, which harms the capacitor.

Because the dielectric material heats up as a result of the current passing through, further leakage current results, and more heat is generated. The capacitor eventually entirely fails and ceases to function.High Equivalent Series Resistance can also damage the capacitor. To avoid this Tantalum capacitor with low equivalent series resistance is used.

What is the difference between tantalum capacitors and electrolytic capacitors?

In electronic circuits tantalum capacitors act as the passive component. While in an electrolytic capacitor there is a positive plate or anode which is made up of metal which forms an oxidizing layer.
1. Media
Tantalum capacitors use metal tantalum as the medium, and ordinary electrolytic capacitors use electrolyte as the medium; Ordinary electrolytic capacitors are wound with aluminum coated capacitor paper, which has almost no inductance, but limits the capacity.

There is no electrolyte inside the tantalum capacitor, which is more suitable for working at high temperatures. It has unique self-healing performance, ensuring the advantages of long life and reliability.

Electrolytic capacitor is a kind of capacitor. The metal foil is the positive pole (aluminum or tantalum). The oxide film (aluminum oxide or tantalum pentoxide) that is close to the metal with the positive pole is the dielectric. The cathode consists of conductive materials, electrolyte (electrolyte can be liquid or solid) and other materials. Since the electrolyte is the main part of the cathode, the electrolytic capacitor gets its name.

2. Performance
Solid tantalum capacitors have excellent electrical performance, wide operating temperature range, various forms and excellent volume efficiency.

The working medium of tantalum capacitor is a very thin tantalum pentoxide film formed on the surface of tantalum metal. The oxide film medium of this layer is combined with one end pole of the capacitor as a whole and cannot exist alone.

The unit volume has very high working electric field strength and large capacitance, that is, very high specific capacity, which is particularly suitable for miniaturization.

3. Uses
Capacitors have various shapes and are made into small and chip components suitable for surface mounting. Tantalum capacitors can be used in military communications, aerospace and other fields. Tantalum capacitors are widely used in industrial control, film and television equipment, communication instruments and other products.

How do you test a tantalum capacitor?

A tantalum capacitor can be tested by using a multimeter. Set the knob on the multimeter to read in the high ohms range. Its operating range should be between 10,000 and 1,000,000 ohms. Now switch the sequence’s leads from black to negative and rec to positive. After starting the meter, needle will start moving from zero towards infinity.

FAQ about tantalum capacitor?


How long do tantalum capacitors last?

The polymer tantalum capacitor can operate for 20 years, which is a very long duration. That’s why they are more suitable as compared to aluminum electrolyte capacitors. The life span is almost 2 years. After 30 to 40 years, some tantalum capacitors start to dry up. Unlike electrolytic capacitors, tantalum capacitors do not lose capacitance over time. This is thought to have an endless shelf life.

Can I use tantalum instead of ceramic capacitor?

Multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC capacitors)have greater equivalent series resistance and equivalent series inductance. On the other hand, tantalum capacitors are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Tantalum capacitors are functionally equivalent to ceramic capacitors, but it would be idiotic to use a tantalum capacitor in place of a ceramic capacitor. But ultimately, it depends on the application. The voltage coefficients of tantalum capacitors are low, in contrast to the large voltage coefficients of ceramic capacitors.

However, tantalum has a very high Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR), whereas ceramics exhibit a relatively low ESR. The more recent polymer tantalum capacitors have ESR values that are quite similar to ceramics, while the older MnO2 tantalum capacitors have relatively high equivalent series resistances.

What is a wet tantalum capacitor?

It is a particular kind of electrolytic capacitor that consists of a wet electrolyte, an anode, and a cathode. Superior qualities include a wide temperature range, great reliability, and electrical stability.

Are tantalum capacitors low leakage?

Leakage current is greater as compared to ceramic capacitors. A tantalum capacitors DC leakage current increases as temperature rises.


Tantalum capacitors can now be widely used in a variety of circuits, including computers, automobiles, mobile phones and other electronic equipment, the most common being surface mount devices (SMDs) These surface mount tantalum capacitors occupy much less space on the printed circuit board, which can achieve higher package density.



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