What is a dielectric constant?

A dielectric is an insulating material that does not conduct electricity and is transparent to an electromagnetic field. Dielectric materials are used to separate conducting surfaces such as the plates inside a capacitor, wires inside transformers, electric cable conductors, and elsewhere in the electric industry where electrical separation of charged elements is necessary. The dielectric constant is a ratio of the capacitance of a capacitor in which a particular insulating material is the dielectric, to the capacitance of the capacitor in which a vacuum is the dielectric.