This lab is adapted from the University of Virginia Physics Department Lab 4:Capacitors & RC Circuits (PHYS 2042, Spring 2014).
It is designed to develop an understanding of the geometry of a parallel plate capacitor composed of two sheets of heavyduty aluminum foil and the effect of inserting a dielectric between its plates.
Equipment
 Multimeter with capacitance (our values will be in nF)

Two leads with alligator clips

125 sheets of 21.6 cm × 27.9 cm printer paper separated into 4 “30sheet” piles + 5 extra sheets

Ruler with a centimeter scale

Two sheets of heavy gauge aluminum foil (each should be 20 cm × 23 cm with one 3 cm × 3 cm offset tab)

Several heavy books to firmly press the foil sheets together
 a piece of unfinished wood on which to place the capacitor as it is measured

EXCEL to analyze graphs
Background Although a capacitor can be formed using any type or shape of conductor, our analysis will focus on a parallelplate capacitor created from two sheets of aluminum foil. The unit of capacitance is the farad F named after Michael Faraday. One farad is equal to one coulomb/volt. In our lab you will be working in nanofarads (nF). In this lab we will measure the dependence of capacitance on the area of the plates and their separation distance. You will construct a parallel plate capacitor out of two rectangular sheets of aluminum foil separated by sheets of paper. You will slip two sheets of foil inbetween sheets of paper and uniformly weigh the entire assembly down with numerous heavy books (perhaps as many as 10) to squeeze the plates together. A digital multimeter will be used to measure the capacitance of your capacitor.
You will use the capacitancemeasuring function to directly measure capacitance. Since our capacitor is uncharged and not connected to a battery, you can connect either lead (red = positive, black = negative or ground) to either sheet of foil. However, it is recommended that you keep the same orientation throughout all of your trials. The meter operates by charging and discharging the capacitor being tested with a small known current and measuring the rate at which the resulting voltage changes  the slower the rate of increase, the larger the capacitance.
It is common for the multimeter to take a few seconds for the capacitance value to stabilize. When you measure the capacitance of your “parallel plates,” be sure that the aluminum foil pieces are pressed firmly and uniformly together and that they are electrically insulated from each other. Your sheets of aluminum foil should not stick out past the pages except where you make the connections. To help with reducing any accidental electrical contact, offset the locations of the two connection tabs. For 8.5 × 11 inch paper, a recommended set of dimensions is 20 cm by 23 cm, with connection tabs of 3 cm x 3 cm. The precise measurements are not critical  just get as close as you can.
Procedure
In Part I of the experiment you will measure how the capacitance depends on the separation between foils. In this phase you are keeping the area constant. A good initial separation is 5 sheets of paper and then increase the thickness by ≈ 30 sheets at each step. Important: When you measure C with the multimeter, be sure to subtract the capacitance of the leads (the reading just before you clip the leads onto the aluminum sheets). Remember to uniformly flatten (squeeze) the plates together with numerous heavy books! You must use the same number of books in each trial.
You will take a minimum of five data points and record your values in the data table provided.
