Polymer capacitor

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Polymer capacitors are types of electrolytic capacitor with conductive polymer (for example, PEDT) as solid electrolyte (cathode). These electrolytic capacitors with conductive polymer and polymerized organic semiconductor (for example, TCNQ complex salt), rather than the more usual liquid (wet) electrolyte, first became available in 1983. Names used for similar technologies are OS-CON (Sanyo trademark), aluminum organic polymer capacitors (AO-CAPS), organic conductive polymer aluminum electrolytic capacitor (OC-CON), functional polymer capacitors (FPCAP).


Equivalent series resistance (ESR), an important characteristic particularly for high-ripple-current and switching applications, as in switch-mode power supplies, is usually lower (better) than wet electrolytics of the same value. Unlike for standard electrolytics, ESR is stable with varying temperature. The low and stable ESR allows polymer capacitors to handle higher ripple current. However, some high-quality wet electrolytic types have ESR as low as polymer capacitors.[1]

As of 2012:

  • Some types have longer life than wet electrolytics, e.g. 50,000 hours life at 85 °C. Others are specified typically guaranteed for 1000 hours at 105 °C.
  • Working voltage up to around 35 V.
  • As of 2013 more expensive than wet electrolytic capacitors of the same capacitance and voltage.
  • More restrictive range of capacitance and working voltage available than wet electrolytic capacitors.
  • Typically electrically polarized, as conventional wet electrolytic capacitors.


  • Cathode is aluminum or tantalum foil.
  • A separator sheet is impregnated with electrolyte.
  • Anode is aluminum or tantalum foil with an oxide layer.
  • Often made in surface-mount packages, while standard electrolytics, more likely to need replacement during equipment life, are usually through-hole mounted—it is easier to replace through-hole than surface-mounted components.

Sandwich is rolled and assembled into a leaded or surface-mount can. Polymer capacitors (with some exceptions[citation needed]) do not have vents; as they do not have liquid electrolyte, they will never make gas and explode under failure conditions.

Tantalum polymer capacitors (such as Sanyo's POSCAP) use a different construction: sintered tantalum with polymer electrolyte.[2]

Reliability and failure modes[edit]

Polymer capacitors can fail by going open-circuit or short-circuit. If moisture is trapped in the capacitor during manufacture, ESR may increase invisibly over time. However, failures are infrequent, and reliability is good.[1]


As these capacitors are costly, they are mainly used for high end graphics card or motherboards. [1]


Sanyo OS-CON polymer capacitors went into production in 1983.[1] They were used on server and workstation computer motherboards first, then on graphics cards, and in 2007 became more common for high-end consumer motherboards.[1]


External links[edit]