Electronics

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Surface-mount electronic components Arduino ftdi chip-1.jpg
Surface-mount electronic components

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. [1]

Contents

Electronics is widely used in information processing, telecommunication, and signal processing. The ability of electronic devices to act as switches makes digital information-processing possible. Interconnection technologies such as circuit boards, electronics packaging technology, and other varied forms of communication infrastructure complete circuit functionality and transform the mixed electronic components into a regular working system, called an electronic system; examples are computers or control systems. An electronic system may be a component of another engineered system or a standalone device. As of 2019 most electronic devices [2] use semiconductor components to perform electron control.

The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age. [3]

Commonly, electronic devices contain circuitry consisting primarily or exclusively of active semiconductors supplemented with passive elements; such a circuit is described as an electronic circuit. Electronics deals with electrical circuits that involve active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes, integrated circuits, optoelectronics, and sensors, associated passive electrical components, and interconnection technologies. The nonlinear behaviour of active components and their ability to control electron flows makes amplification of weak signals possible.

Electrical and electromechanical science and technology deals with the generation, distribution, switching, storage, and conversion of electrical energy to and from other energy forms (using wires, motors, generators, batteries, switches, relays, transformers, resistors, and other passive components). This distinction started around 1906 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode, which made electrical amplification of weak radio signals and audio signals possible with a non-mechanical device. Until 1950, this field was called "radio technology" because its principal application was the design and theory of radio transmitters, receivers, and vacuum tubes.

The term "solid-state electronics" emerged after the first working transistor was invented by William Shockley, Walter Houser Brattain and John Bardeen at Bell Labs in 1947. The MOSFET (MOS transistor) was later invented by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959. The MOSFET was the first truly compact transistor that could be miniaturised and mass-produced for a wide range of uses, revolutionizing the electronics industry, and playing a central role in the microelectronics revolution and Digital Revolution. The MOSFET has since become the basic element in most modern electronic equipment, and is the most widely used electronic device in the world.

The study of semiconductor devices and related technology is considered a branch of solid-state physics, whereas the design and construction of electronic circuits to solve practical problems come under electronics engineering. This article focuses on engineering aspects of electronics.

Branches of electronics

Electronics has branches as follows:

  1. Digital electronics
  2. Analogue electronics
  3. Microelectronics
  4. Circuit design
  5. Integrated circuits
  6. Power electronics
  7. Optoelectronics
  8. Semiconductor devices
  9. Embedded systems
  10. Audio electronics
  11. Telecommunications

Electronic devices and components

Electronics Technician performing a voltage check on a power circuit card in the air navigation equipment room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). US Navy 080820-N-9079D-007 Electronics Technician 3rd Class Michael J. Isenmann, from St. Louis, Mo., performs a voltage check on a power circuit card in Air Navigation Equipment room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lin.jpg
Electronics Technician performing a voltage check on a power circuit card in the air navigation equipment room aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

An electronic component is any physical entity in an electronic system used to affect the electrons or their associated fields in a 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, inductors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc. Components are often categorized as active (e.g. transistors and thyristors) or passive (e.g. resistors, diodes, inductors and capacitors). [4]

History of electronic components

Vacuum tubes (Thermionic valves) were among the earliest electronic components. [5] They were almost solely responsible for the electronics revolution of the first half of the twentieth century. [6] [7] They allowed for vastly more complicated systems and gave us radio, television, phonographs, radar, long-distance telephony and much more. They played a leading role in the field of microwave and high power transmission as well as television receivers until the middle of the 1980s. [8] Since that time, solid-state devices have all but completely taken over. Vacuum tubes are still used in some specialist applications such as high power RF amplifiers, cathode ray tubes, specialist audio equipment, guitar amplifiers and some microwave devices.

The first working point-contact transistor was invented by John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain at Bell Labs in 1947. [9] In April 1955, the IBM 608 was the first IBM product to use transistor circuits without any vacuum tubes and is believed to be the first all-transistorized calculator to be manufactured for the commercial market. [10] [11] The 608 contained more than 3,000 germanium transistors. Thomas J. Watson Jr. ordered all future IBM products to use transistors in their design. From that time on transistors were almost exclusively used for computer logic and peripherals. However, early junction transistors were relatively bulky devices that were difficult to manufacture on a mass-production basis, which limited them to a number of specialised applications. [12]

The MOSFET (MOS transistor) was invented by Mohamed Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in 1959. [13] [14] [15] [16] The MOSFET was the first truly compact transistor that could be miniaturised and mass-produced for a wide range of uses. [12] Its advantages include high scalability, [17] affordability, [18] low power consumption, and high density. [19] It revolutionized the electronics industry, [20] [21] becoming the most widely used electronic device in the world. [15] [22] The MOSFET is the basic element in most modern electronic equipment, [23] [24] and has been central to the electronics revolution, [25] the microelectronics revolution, [26] and the Digital Revolution. [16] [27] [28] [29] The MOSFET has thus been credited as the birth of modern electronics, [30] [31] and possibly the most important invention in electronics. [32]

Types of circuits

Circuits and components can be divided into two groups: analog and digital. A particular device may consist of circuitry that has one or the other or a mix of the two types.

Analog circuits

Hitachi J100 adjustable frequency drive chassis HitachiJ100A.jpg
Hitachi J100 adjustable frequency drive chassis

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 or current 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. In fact, many digital circuits are actually implemented as variations of analog circuits similar to this example – after all, all aspects of the real physical world are essentially analog, so digital effects are only realized by constraining analog behavior.

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 a binary system with two voltage levels labeled "0" and "1". Often logic "0" will be a lower voltage and referred to as "Low" while logic "1" is referred to as "High". However, some systems use the reverse definition ("0" is "High") or are current based. Quite often the logic designer may reverse these definitions from one circuit to the next as he sees fit to facilitate his design. The definition of the levels as "0" or "1" is arbitrary.

Ternary (with three states) logic has been studied, and some prototype computers made.

Computers, electronic clocks, and programmable logic controllers (used to control industrial processes) are constructed of digital circuits. Digital signal processors are another example.

Building blocks:

Highly integrated devices:

Heat dissipation and thermal management

Heat generated by electronic circuitry must be dissipated to prevent immediate failure and improve long term reliability. Heat dissipation is mostly achieved by passive conduction/convection. Means to achieve greater dissipation include heat sinks and fans for air cooling, and other forms of computer cooling such as water cooling. These techniques use convection, conduction, and radiation of heat energy.

Noise

Electronic noise is defined [33] as unwanted disturbances superposed on a useful signal that tend to obscure its information content. Noise is not the same as signal distortion caused by a circuit. Noise is associated with all electronic circuits. Noise may be electromagnetically or thermally generated, which can be decreased by lowering the operating temperature of the circuit. Other types of noise, such as shot noise cannot be removed as they are due to limitations in physical properties.

Electronics theory

Mathematical methods are integral to the study of electronics. To become proficient in electronics it is also necessary to become proficient in the mathematics of circuit analysis.

Circuit analysis is the study of methods of solving generally linear systems for unknown variables such as the voltage at a certain node or the current through a certain branch of a network. A common analytical tool for this is the SPICE circuit simulator.

Also important to electronics is the study and understanding of electromagnetic field theory.

Electronics lab

Due to the complex nature of electronics theory, laboratory experimentation is an important part of the development of electronic devices. These experiments are used to test or verify the engineer's design and detect errors. Historically, electronics labs have consisted of electronics devices and equipment located in a physical space, although in more recent years the trend has been towards electronics lab simulation software, such as CircuitLogix, Multisim, and PSpice.

Computer aided design (CAD)

Today's electronics engineers have the ability to design circuits using premanufactured building blocks such as power supplies, semiconductors (i.e. semiconductor devices, such as transistors), and integrated circuits. Electronic design automation software programs include schematic capture programs and printed circuit board design programs. Popular names in the EDA software world are NI Multisim, Cadence (ORCAD), EAGLE PCB and Schematic, Mentor (PADS PCB and LOGIC Schematic), Altium (Protel), LabCentre Electronics (Proteus), gEDA, KiCad and many others.

Packaging methods

Many different methods of connecting components have been used over the years. For instance, early electronics often used point to point wiring with components attached to wooden breadboards to construct circuits. Cordwood construction and wire wrap were other methods used. Most modern day electronics now use printed circuit boards made of materials such as FR4, or the cheaper (and less hard-wearing) Synthetic Resin Bonded Paper (SRBP, also known as Paxoline/Paxolin (trade marks) and FR2) – characterised by its brown colour. Health and environmental concerns associated with electronics assembly have gained increased attention in recent years, especially for products destined to the European Union, with its Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), which went into force in July 2006.

Electronic systems design

Electronic systems design deals with the multi-disciplinary design issues of complex electronic devices and systems, such as mobile phones and computers. The subject covers a broad spectrum, from the design and development of an electronic system (new product development) to assuring its proper function, service life and disposal. [34] Electronic systems design is therefore the process of defining and developing complex electronic devices to satisfy specified requirements of the user.

Mounting Options

Electrical components are generally mounted in the following ways:

Electronics industry

The electronics industry consists of various sectors. The central driving force behind the entire electronics industry is the semiconductor industry sector, [35] which has annual sales of over $481 billion as of 2018. [36] The largest industry sector is e-commerce, which generated over $29 trillion in 2017. [37] The most widely manufactured electronic device is the metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), with an estimated 13  sextillion MOSFETs having been manufactured between 1960 and 2018. [38]

See also

Related Research Articles

Electrical engineering Field of engineering that deals with electricity

Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design and application of equipment, devices and systems which use electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. It emerged as an identifiable occupation in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electrical power generation, distribution and use.

Amplifier electronic circuit or component or device that increases the level of incoming audio signal (includes pre-amplifiers and power amplifiers)

An amplifier, electronic amplifier or (informally) amp is an electronic device that can increase the power of a signal. It is a two-port electronic circuit that uses electric power from a power supply to increase the amplitude of a signal applied to its input terminals, producing a proportionally greater amplitude signal at its output. The amount of amplification provided by an amplifier is measured by its gain: the ratio of output voltage, current, or power to input. An amplifier is a circuit that has a power gain greater than one.

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon

An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny MOS transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability, and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.

In electronics, a logic gate is an idealized or physical device implementing a Boolean function; that is, it performs a logical operation on one or more binary inputs and produces a single binary output. Depending on the context, the term may refer to an ideal logic gate, one that has for instance zero rise time and unlimited fan-out, or it may refer to a non-ideal physical device.

Transistor Basic electronics component

A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power. It is composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals controls the current through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.

Digital electronics Electronic circuits that utilize digital signals

Digital electronics, digital technology or digital (electronic) circuits are electronics that operate on digital signals. In contrast, analog circuits manipulate analog signals whose performance is more subject to manufacturing tolerance, signal attenuation and noise. Digital techniques are helpful because it is much easier to get an electronic device to switch into one of a number of known states than to accurately reproduce a continuous range of values.

MOSFET Transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals.

The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET), also known as the metal–oxide–silicon transistor (MOS transistor, or MOS), is a type of insulated-gate field-effect transistor (IGFET) that is fabricated by the controlled oxidation of a semiconductor, typically silicon. The voltage of the covered gate determines the electrical conductivity of the device; this ability to change conductivity with the amount of applied voltage can be used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. The MOSFET was invented by Egyptian engineer Mohamed M. Atalla and Korean engineer Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in November 1959. It is the basic building block of modern electronics, and the most frequently manufactured device in history, with an estimated total of 13 sextillion (1.3 × 1022) MOSFETs manufactured between 1960 and 2018.

CMOS Technology for constructing integrated circuits

Complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS), also known as complementary-symmetry metal–oxide–semiconductor (COS-MOS), is a type of MOSFET fabrication process that uses complementary and symmetrical pairs of p-type and n-type MOSFETs for logic functions. CMOS technology is used for constructing integrated circuit (IC) chips, including microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory chips, and other digital logic circuits. CMOS technology is also used for analog circuits such as image sensors, data converters, RF circuits, and highly integrated transceivers for many types of communication.

Audio power amplifier audio amplifier that reaches power output sufficient to control a loudspeaker

An audio power amplifier is an electronic amplifier that amplifies low-power electronic audio signals such as the signal from radio receiver or electric guitar pickup to a level that is high enough for driving loudspeakers or headphones. Audio power amplifiers are found in all manner of sound systems including sound reinforcement, public address and home audio systems and musical instrument amplifiers like guitar amplifiers. It is the final electronic stage in a typical audio playback chain before the signal is sent to the loudspeakers.

Bipolar CMOS (BiCMOS) is a semiconductor technology that integrates two formerly separate semiconductor technologies, those of the bipolar junction transistor and the CMOS gate, in a single integrated circuit device.

A mixed-signal integrated circuit is any integrated circuit that has both analog circuits and digital circuits on a single semiconductor die. In real-life applications mixed-signal designs are everywhere, for example, smart mobile phones. Mixed-signal ICs also process both analog and digital signals together. For example, an analog-to-digital converter is a mixed-signal circuit. Mixed-signal circuits or systems are typically cost-effective solutions for building any modern consumer electronics applications.

Electronic component basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields

An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.

Power MOSFET power MOS field-effect transistor

A power MOSFET is a specific type of metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) designed to handle significant power levels. Compared to the other power semiconductor devices, such as an insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) or a thyristor, its main advantages are high switching speed and good efficiency at low voltages. It shares with the IGBT an isolated gate that makes it easy to drive. They can be subject to low gain, sometimes to a degree that the gate voltage needs to be higher than the voltage under control.

Solid-state electronics circuits or devices built entirely from solid materials and in which the electrons, or other charge carriers, are confined entirely within the solid material

Solid-state electronics means semiconductor electronics; electronic equipment using semiconductor devices such as transistors, diodes and integrated circuits (ICs). The term is also used for devices in which semiconductor electronics which have no moving parts replace devices with moving parts, such as the solid-state relay in which transistor switches are used in place of a moving-arm electromechanical relay, or the solid-state drive (SSD) a type of semiconductor memory used in computers to replace hard disk drives, which store data on a rotating disk.

In electronics, an electronic switch is an electronic component or device that can switch an electrical circuit, interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another.

A transistor is a semiconductor device with at least three terminals for connection to an electric circuit. The vacuum-tube triode, also called a (thermionic) valve, was the transistor's precursor, introduced in 1907. The principle of a field-effect transistor was proposed by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925.

Electronic engineering electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, and their systems

Electronic engineering is an electrical engineering discipline which utilizes nonlinear and active electrical components to design electronic circuits, devices, VLSI devices and their systems. The discipline typically also designs passive electrical components, usually based on printed circuit boards. Electronics is a subfield within the wider electrical engineering academic subject but denotes a broad engineering field that covers subfields such as analog electronics, digital electronics, consumer electronics, embedded systems and power electronics. Electronics engineering deals with implementation of applications, principles and algorithms developed within many related fields, for example solid-state physics, radio engineering, telecommunications, control systems, signal processing, systems engineering, computer engineering, instrumentation engineering, electric power control, robotics, and many others.

This article details the history of electronic engineering. Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary (1972) defines electronics as "The science and technology of the conduction of electricity in a vacuum, a gas, or a semiconductor, and devices based thereon".

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to electronics:

Advanced Linear Devices Incorporated, also known as ALD, is a semiconductor device design and manufacturing company based in Sunnyvale, California. The company develops and manufactures precision analog CMOS linear integrated circuits for industrial controls, instrumentation, computers, medical devices, automotive, and telecommunications products. It is best known for its redesign of the 555 timer IC as a low-voltage CMOS device.

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Further reading