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Electronics is the branch of science and technology which makes use of the controlled motion of electrons through different media. The ability to control electron flow is usually applied to information handling or device control. Electronics is distinct from electrical science and technology, which deals with the generation, distribution, control and application of electrical power. This distinction started around 1906 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode, which made electrical amplification 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.
Triode Vacuum tubes
Most electronic devices today use semiconductor components to perform electron control. The study of semiconductor devices and related technology is considered a branch of physics, whereas the design and construction of electronic circuits to solve practical problems come under electronics engineering.
An electronic component is any physical entity in an electronic system used 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.
Printed circuit board
Integrated circuits: An integrated circuit (also known as IC, chip, or microchip) is a miniaturized electronic circuit (consisting mainly of semiconductor devices, as well as passive components) that has been manufactured in the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Integrated circuits are used in almost all electronic equipment in use today and have revolutionized the world of electronics.
Types of Electronics components
Passive component: Passive.
*The components which store the energy in the form of current or voltage are called as passive components.
Active components: Active components are those that require electrical power to operate.
*The components which produce the energy in the form of current or voltage are called as active components.
Most common passive components
Resistors: Resistors restrict the flow of electric current, for example a resistor is placed in series with a light-emitting diode (LED) to limit the current passing through the LED.
Capacitor: Is a passive electronic component consisting of a pair of conductors separated by a dielectric (insulator). When there is a potential difference (voltage) across the conductors, a static electric field develops in the dielectric that stores energy and produces a mechanical force between the conductors. An ideal capacitor is characterized by a single constant value, capacitance, measured in farads. This is the ratio of the electric charge on each conductor to the potential difference between them.
Capacitors are widely used in electronic circuits for blocking direct current while allowing alternating current to pass, in filter networks, for smoothing the output of power supplies, in the resonant circuits that tune radios to particular frequencies and for many other purposes.
Inductor: An inductor is a passive component that can store energy in a magnetic field created by the electric current passing through it. An inductor's ability to store magnetic energy is measured by its inductance, in units of henries.
Most Common Active Components.
Transistor: Is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals. It is made of a solid piece of semiconductor material, with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current flowing through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be much more than the controlling (input) power, the transistor provides amplification of a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.
The transistor is the fundamental building block of modern electronic devices, and is ubiquitous in modern electronic systems. Following its release in the early 1950s the transistor revolutionised the field of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, amongst other things.
Thyristor: is a solid-state semiconductor device with four layers of alternating N and P-type material. They act as bistable switches, conducting when their gate receives a current pulse, and continue to conduct for as long as they are forward biased (that is, as long as the voltage across the device has not reversed).
Some sources define silicon controlled rectifiers and thyristors as synonymous.
*Other sources define thyristors as a larger set of devices with at least four layers of alternating N and P-type material, including.
An analog signal is any continuously variable signal. It differs from a digital signal in that small fluctuations in the signal are meaningful. Analog is usually thought of in an electrical context, however mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and other systems may also use analog signals.
The word "analog" implies an analogy between cause and effect, voltage in and voltage out, current in and current out, sound in and frequency out.
The primary disadvantage of analog signalling is that any system has noise,that is, random variations in it. As the signal is copied and re-copied, or transmitted over long distances, these random variations become dominant. Electrically these losses are lessened by shielding, good connections, and several cable types such as coax and twisted pair.
The effects of noise make signal loss and distortion impossible to recover, since amplifying the signal to recover attenuated parts of the signal amplifies the noise as well.
Another method of conveying an analog signal is to use modulation. In this, some base signal (e.g., a sinusoidal carrier wave) has one of its properties altered: amplitude modulation involves altering the amplitude of a sinusoidal voltage waveform by the source information, frequency modulation changes the frequency. Other techniques, such as changing the phase of the base signal also work.
Analog circuits do not involve quantisation of information into digital format. The concept being measured over the circuit, whether sound, light, pressure, temperature, or an exceeded limit, remains from end to end.
Clocks with hands are called analog; those that display digits are called digital. However, many analog clocks are actually digital since the hands do not move in a smooth continuous motion, but in small steps every second or half a second.
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.
Example of analog circuit
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.
Computers, electronic clocks, and programmable logic controllers (used to control industrial processes) are constructed of digital circuits. Digital Signal Processors are another example.
Example of a digital circuit.
Digital vs analog
When data are transmitted using analog methods, a certain amount of noise enters into the signal. This can have a myriad of different causes: data transmitted by radio may be received badly, suffer interference from other radio sources, or pick up background radio noise from the rest of the universe. Electric pulses being sent down wires are attenuated by the resistance of the wire, and dispersed by its capacitance, and heat variations can increase or reduce these effects. Whilst digital transmissions are also degraded, any slight variations can be safely ignored. Any variance could provide a great amount of distortion in an analog signal. In a digital signal, these variances can be overcome, as any signal close to a particular value will be interpreted as that value.
Analog versus digital display; ease of reading
For human readable information, both digital and analog display methods can be useful. Should an instant impression be required, analog meters often give information quickly. Many people glance quickly at their analog watch and know roughly what the time is. When accuracy is required, however, digital displays are preferred. Reading analog meters requires time and a little bit of skill, whereas writing down the value on a digital display is merely a case of copying down the numbers. In cases where both accuracy and quick reckoning are both required, dual displays are often used.
A needle (analog) just touching onto the bottom of an orange shaded area is much different to a needle almost touching into the red area, but an indicator lamp (digital) would just glow orange.
Systematic loss of data
When an analog source needs to be converted into a digital signal for processing by other digital systems, some data may be lost. The analog to digital converter only has a certain resolution: whereas the human eye may be able to detect tens of thousands of different intensities of pure green, the CCD in a digital camera may only be capable of 256, and at a resolution of a megapixel or so. Whilst this information will be preserved in future transmission, the data have been lost.
It should be noted that photographic film is not perfect, being subject to aberrations. Losses in analog systems are often modelled as a noise spectrum and modulation transfer function (MTF). The MTF of many analog systems, including film, typically "rolls off" with increasing frequency.
The implementation of two-valued logic using electronic logic gates such as and gates, or gates and flip-flops. In such circuits the logical values true and false are represented by two different voltages, e.g. 0V for false and +5V for true. Similarly, numbers are normally represented in binary using two different voltages to represented zero and one.
Digital electronics contrasts with analogue electronics which represents continuously varying quantities like sound pressure using continuously varying voltages.
Digital electronics is the foundation of modern computers and digital communications. Massively complex digital logic circuits with millions of gates can now be built onto a single integrated circuit such as a microprocessor and these circuits can perform millions of operations per second.
Digital techniques are useful because it is 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.
Digital electronics are usually made from large assemblies of logic gates, simple electronic representations of Boolean logic functions.
One advantage of digital circuits when compared to analog circuits is that signals represented digitally can be transmitted without degradation due to noise. For example, a continuous audio signal, transmitted as a sequence of 1s and 0s, can be reconstructed without error provided the noise picked up in transmission is not enough to prevent identification of the 1s and 0s. An hour of music can be stored on a compact disc as about 6 billion binary digits.
In a digital system, a more precise representation of a signal can be obtained by using more binary digits to represent it. While this requires more digital circuits to process the signals, each digit is handled by the same kind of hardware. In an analog system, additional resolution requires fundamental improvements in the linearity and noise characteristics of each step of the signal chain.
Computer-controlled digital systems can be controlled by software, allowing new functions to be added without changing hardware. Often this can be done outside of the factory by updating the product's software. So, the product's design errors can be corrected after the product is in a customer's hands.
Information storage can be easier in digital systems than in analog ones. The noise-immunity of digital systems permits data to be stored and retrieved without degradation. In an analog system, noise from aging and wear degrade the information stored. In a digital system, as long as the total noise is below a certain level, the information can be recovered perfectly.
In some cases, digital circuits use more energy than analog circuits to accomplish the same tasks, thus producing more heat. In portable or battery-powered systems this can limit use of digital systems.
For example, battery-powered cellular telephones often use a low-power analog front-end to amplify and tune in the radio signals from the base station. However, a base station has grid power and can use power-hungry, but very flexible software radios. Such base stations can be easily reprogrammed to process the signals used in new cellular standards.
Digital circuits are sometimes more expensive, especially in small quantities.
Most useful digital systems must translate from continuous analog signals to discrete digital signals. This causes quantization errors. Quantization error can be reduced if the system stores enough digital data to represent the signal to the desired degree of fidelity. The Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem provides an important guideline as to how much digital data is needed to accurately portray a given analog signal.
In some systems, if a single piece of digital data is lost or misinterpreted, the meaning of large blocks of related data can completely change. Because of the cliff effect, it can be difficult for users to tell if a particular system is right on the edge of failure, or if it can tolerate much more noise before failing.
Digital fragility can be reduced by designing a digital system for robustness. For example, a parity bit or other error management method can be inserted into the signal path. These schemes help the system detect errors, and then either correct the errors, or at least ask for a new copy of the data. In a state-machine, the state transition logic can be designed to catch unused states and trigger a reset sequence or other error recovery routine.
Digital memory and transmission systems can use techniques such as error detection and correction to use additional data to correct any errors in transmission and storage.
On the other hand, some techniques used in digital systems make those systems more vulnerable to single-bit errors. These techniques are acceptable when the underlying bits are reliable enough that such errors are highly unlikely. A single-bit error in audio data stored directly as linear pulse code modulation (such as on a CD-ROM) causes, at worst, a single click. Instead, many people use audio compression to save storage space and download time, even though a single-bit error may corrupt the entire song.
Analog issues in digital circuits
Digital circuits are made from analog components. The design must assure that the analog nature of the components doesn't dominate the desired digital behavior. Digital systems must manage noise and timing margins, parasitic inductances and capacitances, and filter power connections.
Bad designs have intermittent problems such as "glitches", vanishingly-fast pulses that may trigger some logic but not others, "runt pulses" that do not reach valid "threshold" voltages, or unexpected ("undecoded") combinations of logic states.
Additionally, where clocked digital systems interface to analogue systems or systems that are driven from a different clock, the digital system can be subject to metastability where a change to the input violates the set-up time for a digital input latch. This situation will self-resolve, but will take a random time, and while it persists can result in invalid signals being propagated within the digital system for a short time.
Since digital circuits are made from analog components, digital circuits calculate more slowly than low-precision analog circuits that use a similar amount of space and power. However, the digital circuit will calculate more repeatably, because of its high noise immunity. On the other hand, in the high-precision domain (for example, where 14 or more bits of precision are needed), analog circuits require much more power and area than digital equivalents.