What is a crystal oscillator? A crystal oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a precise frequency. This frequency is often used to keep track of time, as in quartz wristwatches, to provide a stable clock signal for digital integrated circuits, and to stabilize frequencies for radio transmitters and receivers. The most common type of piezoelectric resonator used is the quartzcrystal, so oscillator circuits incorporating them became known as crystal oscillators, but other piezoelectric materials including polycrystalline ceramics are used in similar circuits.
A potentiometer is a three-terminal resistor with a sliding or rotating contact that forms an adjustable voltage divider. If only two terminals are used, one end and the wiper, it acts as a variable resistor or rheostat. The measuring instrument called a potentiometer is essentially a voltage divider used for measuring electric potential(voltage); the component is an implementation of the same principle, hence its name. Potentiometers are commonly used to control electrical devices such as volume controls on audio equipment. Potentiometers operated by a mechanism can be used as position transducers, for example, in a joystick. Potentiometers are rarely used to directly control significant power (more than a watt), since the power dissipated in the potentiometer would be comparable to the power in the controlled load.
What is a Transformer? A transformer is an electrical device that transfers electrical energy between two or more circuits through electromagnetic induction. A varying current in one coil of the transformer produces a varying magnetic field, which in turn induces a varying electromotive force (emf) or "voltage" in a second coil. Power can be transferred between the two coils through the magnetic field, without a metallic connection between the two circuits. Faraday's law of induction discovered in 1831 described this effect. Transformers are used to increase or decrease the alternating voltages in electric power applications.
What is Oscilloscope? An oscilloscope, previously called an oscillograph, and informally known as a scope, CRO (for cathode-ray oscilloscope), or DSO (for the more modern digital storage oscilloscope), is a type of electronic test instrument that allows observation of constantly varying signal voltages, usually as a two-dimensional plot of one or more signals as a function of time. Other signals (such as sound or vibration) can be converted to voltages and displayed. Oscilloscopes are used to observe the change of an electrical signal over time, such that voltage and time describe a shape which is continuously graphed against a calibrated scale. The observed waveform can be analyzed for such properties as amplitude, frequency, rise time, time interval, distortion and others. Modern digital instruments may calculate and display these properties directly. Originally, calculation of these values required manually measuring the waveform against the scales built into the screen of the instrument.
What is a Multimeter? A multimeter or a multitester, also known as a VOM (Volt-Ohm-Milliammeter), is an electronic measuring instrument that combines several measurement functions in one unit. A typical multimeter can measure voltage, current, and resistance. Analog multimeters use a microammeter with a moving pointer to display readings. Digital multimeters (DMM, DVOM) have a numeric display, and may also show a graphical bar representing the measured value. Digital multimeters are now far more common due to their cost and precision, but analog multimeters are still preferable in some cases, for example when monitoring a rapidly varying value. A multimeter can be a hand-held device useful for basic fault finding and field service work, or a bench instrument which can measure to a very high degree of accuracy. They can be used to troubleshoot electrical problems in a wide array of industrial and household devices such as electronic equipment, motor controls, domestic appliances, power supplies, and wiring systems.
What is a Breadboard? A breadboard is a construction base for prototyping of electronics. Originally it was literally a bread board, a polished piece of wood used for slicing bread. In the 1970s the solderless breadboard (AKA plugboard, a terminal array board) became available and nowadays the term "breadboard" is commonly used to refer to these. Because the solderless breadboard does not require soldering, it is reusable. This makes it easy to use for creating temporary prototypes and experimenting with circuit design. For this reason, solderless breadboards are also extremely popular with students and in technological education. Older breadboard types did not have this property. A stripboard (Veroboard) and similar prototyping printed circuit boards, which are used to build semi-permanent soldered prototypes or one-offs, cannot easily be reused. A variety of electronic systems may be prototyped by using breadboards, from small analog and digital circuits to complete central processing units (CPUs). Breadboards are one of the most fundamental pieces when learning how to build circuits. In this tutorial, you will learn a little bit about what breadboards are, why they are called breadboards, and how to use one. Once you are done you should have a basic understanding of how breadboards work and be able to build a basic circuit on a breadboard.
What is an Inductor? An inductor, also called a coil, choke or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores electrical energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil around a core. When the current flowing through an inductor changes, the time-varying magnetic field induces a voltage in the conductor, described by Faraday's law of induction. According to Lenz's law, the direction of induced electromotive force (e.m.f.) opposes the change in current that created it. As a result, inductors oppose any changes in current through them. An inductor is characterized by its inductance, which is the ratio of the voltage to the rate of change of current. In the International System of Units (SI), the unit of inductance is the henry (H) named for 19th century American scientist Joseph Henry. In the measurement of magnetic circuits, it is equivalent to weber/ampere. Inductors have values that typically range from 1 µH (10−6 H) to 20 H. Many inductors have a magnetic core made of iron or ferrite inside the coil, which serves to increase the magnetic field and thus the inductance. Along with capacitors and resistors, inductors are one of the three passive linear circuit elements that make up electronic circuits. Inductors are widely used in alternating current (AC) electronic equipment, particularly in radio equipment. They are used to block AC while allowing DC to pass; inductors designed for this purpose are called chokes. They are also used in electronic filters to separate signals of different frequencies, and in combination with capacitors to make tuned circuits, used to tune radio and TV receivers.
What is a Transistor? A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify or switchelectronic 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.
What is a Thermistor? A thermistor is a type of resistor whose resistance is dependent on temperature, more so than in standard resistors. The word is a portmanteau of thermal and resistor. Thermistors are widely used as inrush current limiter, temperature sensors (Negative Temperature Coefficient or NTC type typically), self-resetting overcurrent protectors, and self-regulating heating elements (Positive Temperature Coefficient or PTC type typically).
What is a Varicap Diode? In electronics, a varicap diode, varactor diode, variable capacitance diode, variable reactance diode or tuning diode is a type of diode designed to exploit the voltage-dependent capacitance of a reversed-biased p–n junction.
TRIAC, from triode for alternating current, is a generic trademark for a three terminal electronic component that conducts current in either direction when triggered. Its formal name is bidirectional triode thyristor or bilateral triode thyristor. A thyristor is analogous to a relay in that a small voltage and current can control a much larger voltage and current. The illustration on the right shows the circuit symbol for a TRIAC where A1 is Anode 1, A2 is Anode 2, and G is Gate. Anode 1 and Anode 2 are normally termed Main Terminal 1 (MT1) and Main Terminal 2 (MT2) respectively.
What is a DIAC? The DIAC is a diode that conducts electrical current only after its breakover voltage, VBO, has been reached momentarily. The term is an acronym of "diode for alternating current". When breakdown occurs, the diode enters a region of negative dynamic resistance, leading to a decrease in the voltage drop across the diode and, usually, a sharp increase in current through the diode. The diode remains in conduction until the current through it drops below a value characteristic for the device, called the holding current, IH. Below this value, the diode switches back to its high-resistance, non-conducting state. This behavior is bidirectional, meaning typically the same for both directions of current.
What is a Rectifier? A rectifier is an electrical device that converts alternating current (AC), which periodically reverses direction, to direct current (DC), which flows in only one direction. The process is known as rectification. Physically, rectifiers take a number of forms, including vacuum tubediodes, mercury-arc valves, copper and selenium oxide rectifiers, semiconductor diodes, silicon-controlled rectifiers and other silicon-based semiconductor switches. Historically, even synchronous electromechanical switches and motors have been used. Early radio receivers, called crystal radios, used a "cat's whisker" of fine wire pressing on a crystal of galena (lead sulfide) to serve as a point-contact rectifier or "crystal detector".
What is a Diode bridge? A diode bridge is an arrangement of four (or more) diodes in a bridge circuit configuration that provides the same polarity of output for either polarity of input. When used in its most common application, for conversion of an alternating current (AC) input into a direct current (DC) output, it is known as a bridge rectifier. A bridge rectifier provides full-wave rectification from a two-wire AC input, resulting in lower cost and weight as compared to a rectifier with a 3-wire input from a transformer with a center-tapped secondary winding.
What is a Shockley diode? The Shockley diode (named after physicist William Shockley) is a four-layer semiconductordiode, which was one of the first semiconductor devices invented. It was a "pnpn" diode. It is equivalent to a thyristor with a disconnected gate. Shockley Diodes where manufactured and marketed by Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in the late 1950s.
What is a Schottky diode? The Schottky diode (named after German physicist Walter H. Schottky), also known as hot carrier diode, is a semiconductor diode formed by the junction of a semiconductor with a metal. It has a low forward voltage drop and a very fast switching action. The cat's-whisker detectors used in the early days of wireless and metal rectifiers used in early power applications can be considered primitive Schottky diodes. When sufficient forward voltage is applied, a current flows in the forward direction. A silicon diode has a typical forward voltage of 600–700 mV, while the Schottky's forward voltage is 150 – 450 mV. This lower forward voltage requirement allows higher switching speeds and better system efficiency.
A Zener diode is a particular type of diode that, unlike a normal one, allows current to flow not only from its anode to its cathode, but also in the reverse direction, when the so-called “Zener voltage” is reached. Zener diodes have a highly doped p-n junction. Normal diodes will also break down with a reverse voltage but the voltage and sharpness of the knee are not as well defined as for a Zener diode. Also normal diodes are not designed to operate in the breakdown region, but Zener diodes can reliably operate in this region. The device was named after Clarence Melvin Zener, who discovered the Zener effect. Zener reverse breakdown is due to electron quantum tunnelling caused by a high strength electric field. However, many diodes described as “Zener” diodes rely instead on avalanche breakdown. Both breakdown types are used in Zener diodes with the Zener effect predominating under 5.6 V and avalanche breakdown above.
What is Photodiode? A photodiode is a semiconductor device that converts light into an electrical current. The current is generated when photons are absorbed in the photodiode. A small amount of current is also produced when no light is present. Photodiodes may contain optical filters, built-in lenses, and may have large or small surface areas. Photodiodes usually have a slower response time as their surface area increases. The common, traditional solar cellused to generate electric solar power is a large area photodiode.
What is a Tunnel diode? A tunnel diode or Esaki diode is a type of semiconductor that is capable of very fast operation, well into the microwave frequency region, made possible by the use of the quantum mechanical effect called tunneling. It was invented in August 1957 by Leo Esaki, Yuriko Kurose and Takashi Suzuki when they were working at Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, now known as Sony. In 1973 Esaki received the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Brian Josephson, for discovering the electron tunneling effect used in these diodes. Robert Noyceindependently came up with the idea of a tunnel diode while working for William Shockley, but was discouraged from pursuing it.
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It is a p–n junction diode that emits light when activated. When a suitable voltage is applied to the leads, electrons are able to recombine with electron holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the energy of the photon) is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor. LEDs are typically small (less than 1 mm2) and integrated optical components may be used to shape the radiation pattern.