5C20.30 - Leyden Jar - Dissectible Capacitor

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Leyden Jar - Dissectible Capacitor
Capacitance Dependence on Distance Between Plates
Area of Study:
Electricity & Magnetism
Wimshurst generator, dissectible Leyden Jar.

Video Credit: Jonathan M. Sullivan-Wood.

Connect the inner part of the Leyden Jar to one pole of the Wimshurst.  The other pole of the Wimshurst is connected to the outer conductor.  Charge the jar and without discharging it disconnect from the inner conductor.  With an insulated rod remove the inner conductor from the capacitor.  You may then remove the plastic dielectric from the conductor with your hands as long as you don't touch the outer conductor.  Once the capacitor is disassembled you may handle any or all of the pieces without fear of discharging.  Reassemble the pieces and by touching the inner and outer conductors together it should produce a spark. 

NOTE: The vintage "Central Scientific" capacitor shown in picture two is made with the wrong kind of glass as a dielectric and will therefore not hold a charge.  DO NOT use this for the dissectible capacitor demonstration unless you wish to show a discrepant event type situation.

  • Mario Iona, "Dissectible Capacitor Discussed", TPT, Vol. 26, # 1, Jan. 1988, p. 9.
  • G. Bradley Huff, "Response", TPT, Vol. 26, # 1, Jan. 1988, p. 10.
  • G. Bradley Huff, "Dissectible Leyden Jar", TPT, Vol. 24, # 5, May 1986, p. 292. 
  • Bruce H. Morgan, "Dissectible Leyden Jar; A Comment", TPT, Vol. 24, # 8, Nov. 1986, p. 460.
  • Julius Sumner Miller, "More on "Dissectible Leyden Jar" ", TPT, Vol. 24, # 8, Nov. 1986, p. 460.
  • Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr., "The Dissectible Condenser", TPT, Vol. 16, # 8, Nov. 1978, p. 557.
  • Thomas B. Greenslade, Jr., "Dissectible Condenser", AJP, Vol. 80, #11, Nov. 2012, p. 1026.
  • B. Gross, "On the Experiment of the Dissectible Condenser, AJP, Vol. 12, #6, Dec. 1944, p. 324.
  • John Zeleny, "Observations and Experiments on condensers with Removable Coats, AJP, Vol. 12., #6, Dec. 1944, p. 329.
  • Richard Manliffe Sutton, E-64, Demonstration Experiments in Physics, p. 275.
  • Harry F. Meiners, 29-4.6, Physics Demonstration Experiments, Vol. II,  p. 871.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.