Partlist Wednesday: Tantalum capacitors
We use tantalum capacitors sparingly, usually only when a datasheet specifies. The element tantalum is a conflict mineral, and it’s expensive. For example the PICs on the Logic Sniffer and Bus Pirate have an internal voltage regulator that specifically calls for a tantalum capacitor. 99% of the time you can substitute a electrolytic in a prototype without problems.
Tantalum caps are polarized. There is a +/- side. + is usually marked by a line etched or printed on the package.
Watch out, these are commonly rated for only 6-16volts. We stock a no-name 10uF/10volt 1206-sized (A case/Kemet A) tantalum and use it in every prototype – even if it calls for a drastically different value.
Tantalum caps are smaller than equivalent surface mount electrolytic caps, but they’re generally more expensive. In a previous partlist post commenters linked to 10uF ceramic caps the same size as tantalum caps, but cheaper. We’re switched to those in new designs.This entry was posted in partlist and tagged Tantalum.