# Why don't charges build up on wires like plates of a capacitor?

Suppose you have a parallel plate capacitor and you want to charge it by using a battery. You will connect the plates with the two terminals of the battery. Now my book says that the charges will get accumulated on the plates of the capacitor. The amount of charge will be equal to the capacitance times the voltage of the battery. But what about the wires they are also on the same potential why don't charges accumulate on the wires? I have come across this many a times in capacitor circuits where wires don't get any charge, all the charges accumulate on the capacitors but I just don't understand why.

• Wires do have capacitance and charges accumulate. The total capacitance depends on the wire diameter and how far it is from other conductors, a good rule of thumb is to estimate the capacitance of a wire as 10-20 pF/m. When the wire is part of a twisted pair or coaxial cable, one has to assume closer to approx. 100pF/m. If we connect these wires to really large capacitors, the wire capacitance doesn't matter (it's more likely that the wire inductance or resistance will), but in precision AC circuits and even more so in RF circuits understanding these wire impedances is absolutely crucial. Jul 16, 2016 at 8:24
• Have a look at Surface charges on circuit wires and resistors play three roles J. D. Jackson Am. J. Phys. ${\bf 64}$, 855 (1996).
– jim
Jul 16, 2016 at 12:24
• A wire provides a path of relatively lower resistance. So electrons umder the influence of an external emf flow(very less accumulation) . On the other hand, capavitor plates srparated by a dielectric is a path of high resistance, which very few electrons can overcome (some can, is the distance is small, but most accumulate due to lavk of sufficient energy) Jul 16, 2016 at 13:59

Because it seems to constitute a complete answer, I am reproducing the comments of Curious (after some editing) as a Community Answer :

Wires do have capacitance and charges accumulate. The total capacitance depends on the wire diameter and how far it is from other conductors. A good rule of thumb is to estimate the capacitance of a wire as $$10-20 pF/m$$. When the wire is part of a twisted pair or coaxial cable, one has to assume closer to approx. $$100pF/m$$.

If we connect these wires to typical capacitors - around $$0.1\mu F$$ upwards - the wire capacitance is insignificant. It is more likely that the wire inductance or resistance will have a greater effect. But in precision AC circuits, and even more so in RF circuits, understanding these wire impedances is absolutely crucial.

Jim suggests :

Have a look at Surface charges on circuit wires and resistors play three roles J. D. Jackson Am. J. Phys. 6464, 855 (1996).