General mechanism for negative capacitance phenomena

J. Shulman, Y. Y. Xue, S. Tsui, F. Chen, C. W. Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


The existence of a negative static dielectric constant has drawn a great deal of theoretical controversy. Experimentally, one has never been observed. However, low-frequency negative capacitance has been widely reported in fields including physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and electronics. This wide variety of systems possesses an extremely diverse set of physical processes that, surprisingly, share similar characteristics. We present a general mechanism that unites the various instances of negative capacitance under a common framework. The mechanism demonstrates that the negative capacitance arises from dc/ac signal mixing across a nonlinear conductor. Verification of the model is performed in physically distinct samples: an electrorheological fluid, a fuel cell, and a solar cell. Furthermore, we argue that the negative capacitance, under appropriate conditions, can be associated with a negative-differential dielectric constant, possibly even in the static limit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134202
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct 20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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