Monday, May 18, 2009


Electronics refers to the flow of charge (moving electrons) through nonmetal conductors (mainly semiconductors), whereas electrical refers to the flow of charge through metal conductors. For example, flow of charge through silicon, which is not a metal, would come under electronics; whereas flow of charge through copper, which is a metal, would come under electrical. This distinction started around 1906 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode. Until 1950 this field was called "Radio techniques" because its principal application was the design and theory of radio transmitters, receivers and vacuum tubes.

 Electronic devices and components 

An electronic component is any physical entity in an electronic system whose intention is to affect the electrons or their associated fields in a desired manner consistent with the intended function of the electronic system. Components are generally intended to be connected together, usually by being soldered to a printed circuit board (PCB), to create an electronic circuit with a particular function (for example an amplifier, radio receiver, or oscillator). Components may be packaged singly or in more complex groups as integrated circuits. Some common electronic components are capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc.

 Types of circuits

 Analog circuits

 Most analog electronic appliances, such as radio receivers, are constructed from combinations of a few types of basic circuits. Analog circuits use a continuous range of voltage as opposed to discrete levels as in digital circuits.

The number of different analog circuits so far devised is huge, especially because a 'circuit' can be defined as anything from a single component, to systems containing thousands of components.

Analog circuits are sometimes called linear circuits although many non-linear effects are used in analog circuits such as mixers, modulators, etc. Good examples of analog circuits include vacuum tube and transistor amplifiers, operational amplifiers and oscillators.

One rarely finds modern circuits that are entirely analog. These days analog circuitry may use digital or even microprocessor techniques to improve performance. This type of circuit is usually called "mixed signal" rather than analog or digital.

Sometimes it may be difficult to differentiate between analog and digital circuits as they have elements of both linear and non-linear operation. An example is the comparator which takes in a continuous range of voltage but only outputs one of two levels as in a digital circuit. Similarly, an overdriven transistor amplifier can take on the characteristics of a controlled switch having essentially two levels of output.

 Digital circuits

Digital circuits are electric circuits based on a number of discrete voltage levels. Digital circuits are the most common physical representation of Boolean algebra and are the basis of all digital computers. To most engineers, the terms "digital circuit", "digital system" and "logic" are interchangeable in the context of digital circuits. Most digital circuits use two voltage levels labeled "Low"(0) and "High"(1). Often "Low" will be near zero volts and "High" will be at a higher level depending on the supply voltage in use. Ternary (with three states) logic has been studied, and some prototype computers made.

 Mixed Signal circuits

 t is rare you will find a purely digital or analog circuit in our time. Even FM radios are reduced to integrated circuits that contain both analog and digital elements, and though personal computers are almost entirely digital, certain ways computers communicate with the outside world such as the D-SUB video port use analog. Many of the circuit elements previously mentioned are actually mixed signal devices and employ Analog-to-digital and/or Digital-to-analog conversion. These methods allow circuits to create binary (digital) numbers associated with analog values with varying resolution and approximate analog signals from digital numbers respectively. The Microcontroller is an example of a Mixed-signal integrated circuit which employs both analog and digital techniques. While the computing core is digital, the microcontroller can also deal with analog values by using analog-to-digital converters. Digital cameras are another example as the CCD (Charge Coupled Device) sensor used in most cameras are not digital, but rather analog. The digital portion of the camera is responsible for control, human interface and digital signal processing among other things.