Decoupling capacitors and modern component package sizes

28 October 2021

As electronic components become modernized, gone are the days where capacitance is relative to the size of the component. Today, you can choose multiple package sizes (01005 to 0402) with the same capacitance. Decoupling capacitors are an essential part to any electronics design, but engineers often use parts with far less capacitance than is needed because they are using a design rule that was put in place for through hole parts. That antiquated rule we are referring to is "minimize inductance." Older ceramic disk capacitors required larger packages to provide larger capacitance, and a consequence of that choice was larger package inductance. Modern surface mount parts offer multiple capacitor values in a single surface mount size, so whenever possible, choose the largest value capacitor for your design that you can since the inductance is based on package size, not part capacitance. As space on modern circuit boards shrinks, the need for saving space with choosing the right sized capacitor becomes more relevant. So in your next design, resist the urge to choose a large capacitor!

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