Technology is advancing quickly as we struggle to catch up. We’re putting in the effort, buying and using more electronics than ever before. Electronics have touched most, if not all industries, from consumer electronics to healthcare, to the automotive vertical. Electronics are being produced and purchased so frequently because they make life convenient and comfortable.
If you own a tablet, smartphone, eReader, wearable, high-tech earbuds or a computer, you probably use electronics every day. What you might not have known is that within most of these electronics are small circuits that control and process information. Circuits are responsible for conducting electricity; they are an essential component of most devices.
If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite gadgets work under the hood, this article series is for you. We’re going to take an in-depth look at the inner-workings of your favorite electronics.
Electronic Circuits: The Lifeline of Electronics
Electronic circuits control electricity and direct it to perform various tasks such as computation, signal amplification, and data transfers. Conductive wires (wires that allow electricity to move freely) connect different components like resistors, inductors, and transistors together.
For electricity to flow freely through a circuit, there must not be a hole in the conductive material. The circuit must start and end at the same point. Although circuit board parts vary depending on the complexity of the electronic, at the least, a circuit has a conducting path, a voltage source, and a load.
What is the Conducting Path?
This is a wire, comprised of copper or conductive traces that allows electric current to flow freely. Conductive traces are simply copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. These are typically use for small and complex circuits, like printed circuit boards.
What is the Voltage Source?
A circuit needs an electrical current to pass through it safely. To do this, there must be a voltage source. This is a two-terminal device like a battery, generator or power system. The idea is that there one side of the circuit has a high voltage and the other side has a lower voltage. This encourages electricity to flow.
What is a Load?
A load is placed in the circuit to perform certain tasks. A light bulb might be an easy idea to grasp when you think of a load.
Complex circuits will have tools like resistors, transistors, and capacitors.
Printed circuit boards are an example of a complex circuit. It is a plastic board with copper tracks that connect on one side and many holes where other components can be added on the other side.
Your computer and smartphone have thousands, even millions of components. Integrate circuits small enough to fit into a silicon chip were introduced to offer more complex circuits. As integrated circuits become more sophisticated, our phones, computers, and laptops get better every day.
This is a passive two-terminal electronic part that works as a small rechargeable battery that stores electricity. However, it can charge and discharge in less than a second.
Capacitors come in different shapes and sizes but they typically will be built using these components:
-Two electrical conductors separated by a dielectric (non conducting material) or insulator placed between them.
-When you apply voltage over the conductors or connect them to a source of energy, an electric field develops across the insulator, causing one conductor to accumulate positive charge while the other conduct accumulates negatively. The capacitor will hold its charge even if you disconnect it. However, the moment you connect it to a load, the stored energy will flow from the capacitor to the load.
-Amount of energy. The higher it is, the more energy it can store. You can also increase this by moving the conductors closer to each other or increasing their size. Or you could enhance the insulation qualities to increase the capacitance.
-Capacitors may look like batteries, but they can perform a number of circuit board functions like blocking direct current, (current that flows in one direction) while allowing alternating current to pass through. They can also stabilize voltage and power flow.
-Designers use a capacitor because you don’t want the controllers’ voltage to stop, which will reset it. Capacitors can give the microcontroller the necessary power for a second to avoid a restart. Essentially, it stabilizes the power supply and filters out noise.
-Capacitors release their charge quickly. It can provide power to a circuit for a short while. For example, when you take a flash photo with a camera, the capacitor releases its charge to generate light.
In this kick-off article in this series, we have discussed circuits, important circuit types, and a circuit component. Stay tuned for the follow-up blog. If you take an interest in technology or have wondered how things you use everyday work, you’ll want to stay tuned.