Capacitors with fixed values (the so called block-capacitors) consist of two thin metal plates (these are called “electrodes” or sometimes called the “foil”), separated by a thin insulating material such as plastic. The most commonly used material for the “plates” is aluminum, while the common materials used for insulator include paper, ceramic, mica, etc after which the capacitors get named. A number of different block-capacitors are shown in the photo below. A symbol for a capacitor is in the upper right corner of the image.
Fig. 2.1: Block capacitors
Most of the capacitors, block-capacitors included, are non-polarized components, meaning that their leads are equivalent in respect of the way the capacitor can be placed in a circuit. Electrolytic capacitors represent the exception as their polarity is important. This will be covered in the following chapters.