Semiconductor

A semiconductor is an electronic component that conducts an electricity under some specific conditions, it is the best medium to control an electrical current. Semiconductors have been manufactured purposely as single discrete devices and as integrated circuits.

Its conductance varies depending on the current or voltage applied to a control electrode, or on the intensity of irradiation by infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, or x-rays.

Through the introduction of an electric and magnetic field, through the exposure of light or heat, or by the mechanical deformation of a doped monocrystalline grid makes the semiconductor conductivity is controlled. With these conditions, semiconductors are proved to be an excellent sensor.

When there is a decreased flow of electricity with the use of the semiconductor, it is changed with the doping process. Doping process mixes a small amount of impurity into the semiconductor. The semiconductor material used in devices is doped under highly controlled conditions in a fabrication facility to control precisely the location and concentration of p- and n-type dopants. There are two types of insecurities, the n-type and the p-type.

An n-type semiconductor carries current mainly in the form of negatively-charged electrons, it has a similar manner to the conduction of current in a wire. Meanwhile, a p-type semiconductor carries a current that has a predominant electron deficiencies called holes. The hole has a positive electric charge, which is equal and opposite of the charge on an electron.

The junctions which form where n-type and p-type semiconductors join together are called p–n junctions. Semiconductor materials are useful because of their behavior, they can be manipulated easily by the addition of impurities. Here is the list of semiconductor materials:

Silicon

Silicon is the most widely used material in semiconductor devices. It is a combination of low raw material cost, relatively simple processing, and a useful temperature range.

Germanium

Germanium is also a widely used early semiconductor material, however, the thermal sensitivity of a germanium makes it less useful than silicon.

Gallium arsenide

Gallium arsenide is also widely used in high-speed electronic devices however during projects, it has been proven to be difficult to form large-diameter boules of this material, limiting the wafer diameter to sizes significantly smaller than silicon wafers thus making mass production of GaAs devices significantly more expensive than silicon.

Silicon carbide

Silicon carbide is a raw material for blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and could withstand very high operating temperatures and environments with the presence of significant levels of ionizing radiation.

Indium compounds

Indium compounds are also used in LEDs and solid-state laser diodes.

Metals tend to be good conductors of electricity for they contain free electrons, which moves easily between atoms. A diode is the simplest possible semiconductor device, it allows current to flow in one direction but not the other.

Semiconductors are used extensively in electronic circuits. Today, semiconductors have greatly changed the lives of the people. Semiconductors are held liable for everything that is computerized or that uses radio waves.

Electronic Circuits

An electronic circuit is created with a combination of individual electronic components like resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors, and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. The combination of the electronic components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed, the electronic circuits can amplify the signals, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.

An electronic circuit can be categorized as an analog circuit, a digital circuit, or a mixed-signal circuit, which is a combination of an analog circuit and a digital circuit.

Digital electronics are electronics that operate on digital signals. Digital electronic circuits have electric signals that take on discrete values to represent logical and numeric values. These logical and numerical values constitute an information that is being processed. In binary encoding, one voltage represents a binary ‘1’ and another voltage represents a binary ‘0’. Digital circuits can provide both logic and memory, enabling them to perform arbitrary computational functions. It is utilized to create a general purpose computing chips and custom-designed logic circuits.

A digital circuit is typically constructed from small electronic circuits called logic gates that can be used to create combinational logic. A logic gate is generally created from one or more electrically controlled switches. An advantage of digital circuits when compared to analog circuits is that signals represented digitally can be transmitted without degradation due to noise. Storage of information is easier, it can be controlled by a software that allows new functions to be added without changing the hardware. Digital circuits are more expensive.

Analog electronics are electronic systems with a continuously variable signal. Analog describes the proportional relationship between a signal and a voltage or current that represents the signal.

Analog circuitry is built with two fundamental building blocks, the series, and parallel circuits. The basic components of analog circuits are wires, resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, and transistors. An analog circuit is designed to amplify, attenuate, provide isolation, distort, or modify the signal.

In a series circuit, the same current passes through a series of components. Meanwhile, in a parallel circuit, all the components are connected to the same voltage, and the current divides between the various components according to the resistance of the circuit.

There are two classifications of an analog circuit, these are the passive analog circuit and active analog circuit. A passive analog circuit consumes a no external electrical power while the active analog circuit uses an electrical power source to achieve the goal.

Meanwhile, the mixed-signals circuit is the combination of an analog circuit and a digital circuit on a single semiconductor. These are often used to convert analog signals to digital signals so that digital devices can process them. These circuits are more difficult to design and manufacture than analog-only or digital-only integrated circuits.

To test the new designs, breadboards, perfboards, and stripboards are commonly used. These boards allow the designer to make a quick change to the development of the circuit.

Consumer Electronics

Technology is being bought by people no matter how expensive it is to make life easier. Most of the electronics today are portable, wearable, and even connected to the social world.

The electronic industry has employed a large number of engineers, designers, marketers, salespeople, customer service representatives, and finance experts to continuously improve the products of consumer electronics.

Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic devices solely made for everyday use and in private houses. It includes equipment that is used for entertainment, communication, and home-office activities.

Miniaturization has made consumer electronics smaller and lighter. Consumer electronics has become a worldwide phenomenon, it has effectively influenced the economic status of an individual and small businesses.

Early in the 20th century, the first major consumer product was introduced, the broadcast receiver. In 2010, most of the consumer electronics have become linked to digital technologies, and have largely merged with the computer industry. It has now been called as the consumerization of information technology. The first set of consumer electronic products are radio receivers, television sets, MP3 players, video recorders, DVD players, digital cameras, camera recorders, personal computers, video game consoles, telephones and mobile phones.

While the consumer electronics has paved its way to the trend of merging on other products. A major characteristic of a consumer electronic product is the trend of increasing prices, which is driven by the efficiency and automation of the manufacturer, the low labor costs, and the improvements of the semiconductor designs. Nowadays, most of the electronic devices have internet connectivity.

As each year passes, and each new generation of products introduced in the marketplace, it has become difficult to categorize the electronic products into the traditional categories, such as telecommunications, computer hardware, and consumer electronics.

Most of the electronic consumers are built in China, due to the maintenance cost, availability of materials, quality, and speed. An embedded software is being utilized in some of the electronic devices. Electronics retailing monitors the sales of the consumer electronics, some of the consumer electronics retailer offer an extended warranty on some of the electronic products.

It is not a worry when consumer electronics have malfunctioned, it can be repaired through the electronic service maintenance of the product.

Consumer electronics has a great impact on our daily lives, however, it has also an impact on our environment and health. Energy consumption has increased from the production process of the devices to the household consumption. Even when the electronic device is turned off, standby power is still consumed, however, this can be reduced by unplugging the device or using power strips with switches.

Little did we also know that it has affected our health, some of the electronic devices produce major physical health concerns. With this, neck and back pains have increased which are commonly referred as repetitive strain injuries. Electronics have affected the lifestyle of people, obesity and diabetes are commonly evident to those who tend to use electronics the most.

Thus, use electronic devices moderately and efficiently.

Electronic Devices

Electronic devices are utilized for controlling the flow of electrical currents for the purpose of information processing and system control. Electronic materials are the type of materials which are typically used as core elements in a variety of device applications. Electronic devices are generally small devices and can be grouped together into packages called integrated circuits. This miniaturization is central to the great prosperity of modern electronics.

There are new and innovative materials, structures, process, and design technologies that are being explored for nanoelectronics, energy, environment, and biomedical applications. What are the best innovated electronic devices up to date?

Television

Through a television, you are able to receive news, sports, entertainment, information, and commercials. Have you ever thought about the technology that made this possible? How can a television decode the signals to produce the motion picture?

The old-style, a television with a cathode-ray tube receives the incoming signal and breaks it into its separate audio and video components. The audio part feeds into an audio circuit, which uses a loudspeaker to recreate the original sound recorded in the TV studio. Meanwhile, the video signal is sent to a separate circuit. This fires a beam of electrons that are fast-moving, negatively charged particles inside an atom, down a long cathode-ray tube. The modern televisions are called LCD (liquid-crystal display) televisions that have a million of tiny picture elements called pixels that can be switched on or off electronically to make a picture. Each pixel is made up of three smaller red, green, and blue sub-pixels. Since there is no cumbersome cathode-ray tube and phosphor screen, LCDs screens are much more compact and energy efficient than older TV receivers.

Cellphone

Mobile phones contain a large amount of circuitry, each of which is carefully designed to optimize the performance of the phone. The cell phone has an analog electronics and digital circuits that ranges from processors to display and keypad electronics. A mobile phone typically consists of a single board, but within this, there are a number of distinct functional areas that are designed to be integrated as one. Radio frequency receiver and transmitter, digital signal processor, analog and digital conversion, control processor, SIM card, and power control and battery are needed to assemble a cellphone.

Heart Monitors

A heart rate monitor is a personal monitoring device that can monitor a person to measure one’s heart rate in real time or record the heart rate.

Respiratory ventilators

A machine built to administer breathable air into and out of the lungs, to provide breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or has an insufficient breathing.

All of the above has been possible because of continuous efforts to improve the fundamental understanding of the electronic properties of various devices. This is complemented by the existing advancement in the process and fabrication technologies. The ever-changing dimensions and level of functionality require continuous efforts to develop state of the art materials to meet the technological challenges associated with the development of these devices.

Resistors

Resistor is a universal component in an electronic equipment. It is a critical electronic component in every circuit.

Resistor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that applies electrical resistance as a circuit element. In electronic circuits, resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, to divide voltages, and establish predetermined voltages or currents of an active elements, and terminate transmission lines.

Resistors are added to circuits, for them to complement active components such as op-amps, microcontrollers, and other integrated circuits. A resistor has two terminals, one connection on each end of the resistor, its terminals extend from the wavy lines or rectangles and it connects the rest of the circuit. The electrical resistance of a resistor is measured in ohms, it is named after Georg Simon Ohm. One ohm is equivalent to 1 volt of applied energy to push a one ampere of current.

The behavior of an ideal resistor is dictated by the relationship of the voltage, current, and resistance, which specified the Ohm’s Law. Ohm’s law proposed that the voltage across a resistor is proportional to the current, where the constant of proportionality is the resistance. However, the practical resistors can have an inductance and capacitance that can affect the relationship between the voltage and current in alternating current circuits. The total resistance of resistors connected in a series is the sum of their individual resistance values.

Resistors come in one of two termination-types, the through-hole or surface mount. These resistors can be standard, static resistor, a pack of resistors, or a special variable resistor.

Through-hole resistors have a long, pliable leads that can be inserted into a breadboard or hand-soldered into a prototyping board or printed circuit board. The long leads of the resistor usually require trimming, and it is bound to take up much more space than their surface-mount counterparts. The most common through-hole resistors come in an axial package.

Surface-mount resistors are tiny blank rectangles, which are terminated on either side with even smaller, shiny, silver, conductive edges. This kind of resistor is intended to be on top of a printed circuit board, it is soldered on the printed circuit board onto its mating landing pads.

As said, resistors exist in every electronic circuit. Resistors are the key component in LEDs, it ensures that the LEDs will not explode when the power is applied. The resistor that connects to the series to the LED makes the current flowing at a safe value. The characteristic value of the LED is typical forward voltage and maximum forward voltage that is required to light up the LED.

As resistors are a voltage divider, it veers the large voltages into a smaller voltage. A pull-up resistor is utilized when a direct current is deliberately made to flow to a microcontroller into a known state.

The failure rate of resistors in a properly designed circuit is low compared to other electronic components, damage can be accumulated to the resistor when overheating occurs when the average power delivered to the resistor greatly exceeds its ability to dissipate the heat.

Light-Emitting Diode

Light-emitting diode, or more commonly known as LED is a two-lead semiconductor light source. It has a p-n junction diode that when activated, it emits light.

Not like lasers, the color of the light emitted from a LED is neither coherent nor monochromatic. However, it has a narrow spectrum with respect to the human vision, and for most purposes, the light from a simple diode element can be regarded as a functional monochromatic.

In 1962, LEDs has appeared as a practical electronic component. The earliest LEDs emit a low-intensity infrared light. The infrared lights are frequently used, up today in transmitting elements in remote-control circuits. The first visible light of LED is of low intensity and limited to red, however, the LEDs of today are available in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, with very high brightness.

LEDs have numerous of advantages over incandescent light sources, such as low energy consumption, long life cycle, improved physical robustness, smaller size, and faster switching. They are significantly more energy efficient and have fewer concerns regarding their disposal.

LEDs, when operated at low currents and at low temperatures, can be subjected to wear and tear, even though it is a solid-state device. The usual life cycle of a LED is up to 25,000 to 100,000 hours, however, it can extend or shorten. The most common sign of LED failure is the gradual lowering of light output and loss of efficiency, although sudden failures can also happen.

Conventional LEDs are available in different colors, such as infrared, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, ultraviolet, pink, purple, and white. These are made from a variety of inorganic semiconductor materials, with different wavelength, voltage drop, and materials.

There are considerations in using LEDs, it has the same current-voltage characteristic to other diodes. A small change in the voltage can cause a large change in the current, thus a constant current power supply should be used to avoid damaging or destroying the LED. Just like diodes, the current flows easily from p-type to the n-type material, when a reverse voltage grows large enough to exceed the breakdown of voltage, a large current flow may occur leading to the damaging of LED.

The materials used to make LEDs are safe under all conditions of normal use. It does not contain mercury, the federal standards declared that LEDs are not hazardous except those low-intensity red LEDs and low-intensity yellow LEDs.

There are numerous of advantages in using LEDs, it emits more lumens per watt than an incandescent light bulb, and can emit an intended color without the use of any filter. It has a cool light that radiates a small amount of heat, and difficult to damage with external shocks, unlike other bulbs that are fragile. It has a long life cycle, and it fails by dimming over time and not an abrupt failure.

However, there are also disadvantages in using LEDs, it is more expensive on an initial capital cost basis, and it largely depends on the ambient temperature of the environment.

Electronics: An Introduction

Electronics is the science that controls the electrical energy, wherein the electrons have a fundamental role. Electronics deals with the electrical circuits that involve active electrical components that are associated with passive elements like circuits. The science of electronics is considered to be a branch of physics and electrical engineering.

It has been the greatest discovery, to utilize electrons to control machines and process information. The use of electronics has been everywhere, it is utilized to store your money, to monitor your heartbeat, to transmit the sound of your voice to another people’s phone, and it can guide planes and cars. These cannot be possible without the electrons within the atoms that carry around electrical energy to the circuits.

The circuits inside the electronic equipment are built with components that do different jobs and they are linked together by cables or printed metal connections.

Electrical was discovered earlier than electronics. Now, let us take a peek at how electronics evolved over time.

In 1874, George Johnstone Stoney, an Irish scientist proposed that electricity is built with tiny electrical charges.

In 1875, George Carey, an American scientist built a photoelectric cell that can produce an electricity when a light shines on.

In 1883, Thomas Edison, another American inventor discovered thermionic emission, wherein the electrons are given off by a heated filament.

In 1887, Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist discovered an in-depth understanding of the photoelectric effect. He found out that there is a connection between the light and electricity.

In 1894, the word ‘electron’ was coined by George Johnstone Stoney.

In 1897, J.J. Thomson, a British physicist proved that cathode rays are a negatively charged particle, that was renamed as electrons.

In 1904, John Ambrose Fleming, an English scientist discovered the Fleming valve, later called diode, and it became an indispensable component in radios.

In 1906, Lee De Forest, improved the valve made by John Fleming, the triode or audion. It has greatly improved the designs of radios. Lee De Forest was then known as the father of modern radio.

In 1947, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley developed the transistor at Bell Laboratories. It revolutionized electronics and digital computers.

In 1958, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments who worked independently, and Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor developed the integrated circuits.

In 1971, Marcian Edward Hoff and Federico Faggin managed to squeeze all the key components of a computer in a single chip. It produced the world’s first general-purpose microprocessor.

In 1987, Theodore Fulton and Gerald Dolan of Bell Laboratories developed the first single-electron transistor.

In 2008, the Hewlett-Packard researcher Stanley Williams built the first working memristor, a new kind of magnetic circuit component that worked like a resistor with a memory.

Come to think of something that does not involve electronics, who would have thought that electrons, the tiniest of all things, can have a large impact on the people’s lives? One of the areas that have great benefit with electronics is the entertainment. Moreover, electronics save our lives, hospitals are packed with electronic devices that can help maintain and monitor lives, and cars with airbags in the steering wheel that can be triggered by electronic circuits give us an extra protection.

Microelectronics: An Introduction

What is microelectronics?

By definition, microelectronics is a specialized field that is under the discipline of Electronics Engineering. In electronics, it deals with tiny, or microscopic components to manufacture electronics. It has been rapidly evolving, as the demand for small and less costly devices advances, microelectronics continues to expand.

There are three main areas microelectronics focus, these are research, reliability, and manufacture. The downside of the equipment and expertise being utilized in the manufacturing of microelectronic devices are not widely available, thus the microelectronic devices are generally expensive than devices that do not use microelectronics.

These electronic devices are mostly made from semiconductor materials, and many components of a normal electronic design are available in a microelectronic equivalent. Transistors, capacitors, inductors, resistors, diodes, insulators and conductors are found in a microelectronic device. The microscopic sizes of the components lead, and pads require a unique wiring technique called wire bonding, which can be utilized by a specialized equipment, thus making the devices expensive.

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value that falls between of a conductor and an insulator. As the temperature increases, its resistance decreases, this is a characteristic opposite of a metal.

A transistor is a semiconductor device that is utilized to amplify or switch the electronic signals and electrical power. It has at least three terminals to connect to an external circuit. A voltage or current is applied to one pair of the transistor’s terminals. It is a fundamental building block of the modern electronic devices.

A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores electrical energy in an electric field. It is widely used in electronic circuits for blocking direct current while allowing alternating current to pass.

An inductor is also a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores electrical energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. It is one of the three passive linear circuit elements that make up an electronic circuit. It is also used to separate signals of different frequencies.

A resistor is a passive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element.

A diode is a two-terminal electronic component that conducts current primarily in one direction and it has a low resistance in one direction, and a high resistance in the other. Nowadays, most diodes are made of silicon.

An insulator is an electrical component whose internal electric charges do not flow freely and has a little electric current that can flow through under the influence of an electric field. It has a property that distinguishes itself from other components, it is its resistivity, and insulators have higher resistivity than semiconductors or conductors. Insulators are utilized in electrical equipment to support and separate electrical conductors without allowing current through themselves.

A conductor is an object or type of material that allows the flow of an electrical current in one or more directions.

As microelectronics is quickly developing, it suggests for a more potential future of new advancements.

Batteries

A battery is the source of an electrical energy that is provided by one or more electrochemical cells after it is converted from the stored chemical energy. Batteries are subdivided into two categories, the primary batteries, and the secondary batteries.

Primary Battery

It is the most commonly used battery for portable devices that have a low current drain. This kind of battery is for single-use, they are sometimes called throw-away batteries. When it is empty, it cannot be recharged, thus it is discarded after use. Disposable primary cells cannot be reliably recharged since the chemicals used are not easily reversible and its active forms may not be returned to its original phase.

It is commonly used in remote controls, clocks, radios, digital cameras, and MP3 players.

What are the examples of a primary battery?

  1. Alkaline is the most commonly used primary battery, the zinc-alkaline manganese dioxide battery has the most power-per-use than any other alkaline batteries.
  2. Carbon Zinc provides low power, yet has a good shelf life. The zinc-acidic manganese dioxide battery is the lowest cost primary battery.
  3. Lithium Cells has an outstanding performance than the conventional aqueous electrolyte battery systems. Lithium batteries are used in small formats for safety purposes.
  4. Silver Oxide Cells are batteries with high energy density, it is expensive due to the high cost of silver. These are mainly used for watches and calculators, it is commonly seen as button cell.
  5. Zinc Air Cells are batteries with a long run time, since the only stored material in the cell is the anode, and it uses the oxygen from the ambient air as the cathode. This kind of battery is commonly used for hearing aid devices.

Secondary Battery

It is a rechargeable battery, it can be reused after recharging. Rechargeable or secondary cells are made of active materials in the discharged state, it can be recharged by introducing electric current that can reverse the chemical reactions. These batteries have chargers.

What are the examples of a secondary battery?

  1. Rechargeable Alkaline have the lowest cost rechargeable cells, it is a secondary alkaline battery with long shelf life and can be used for moderate-powered applications. This battery is one of the great choices for customers.
  2. Lead-Acid is the most popular rechargeable batteries. Although it uses a toxic chemical, and a carcinogenic compound, the battery product has been proven, economical, and reliable. However, when disposing of the material it should not enter the regular waste stream.
  3. Lithium Ion is the latest breakthrough of rechargeable batteries, it provides more capacity and long life cycle than the nickel-metal hydride. However, this should be handled with caution since overheating can damage the battery and can cause a fire.
  4. Nickel-Cadmium is batteries that are reliable and rugged. It exhibits a high-power capability, wide operating temperature range, a long life cycle, yet it has a low run time.

Nickel-Metal Hydride are an extension for nickel-cadmium batteries, it has the same voltage as the nickel-cadmium yet it offers a lesser capacity. However, it can still provide a high current capability and a long life cycle.

Electronics Safety

Although electronics deal with low voltage devices, it still has the potential to put yourself into harm. Devices or circuits that use 120 VAC power from an electrical outlet can put you into an imminent danger and potentially kill you.

  • It is best to take the precautionary measures and safety guidelines to keep yourself safe at work.
  • Do not work on a circuit while the power is still on.
  • Do not connect the power to a circuit until the circuit is done, carefully check and examine your work.
  • When there is a burning smell, immediately disconnect the power and examine the circuit to determine what went wrong.
  • Always keep the work area dry.
  • Always wear safety goggles.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated place.
  • Be cautious about working around large capacitors, it still continues to hold voltage long after it is disconnected from power.
  • When working with electronics, have a safety equipment on your sides, such as a fire extinguisher, a first-aid kit, and a phone.

However, aside from these obvious precautions, there are instances that are less obvious. Here are important precautions that can make you safe during your complex electronic project.

Discharge any capacitors

Be cautious with capacitors, to avoid being caught by shock or burn you have to:

  1. Unplug the electronic device to terminate any alternating current flowing through the capacitor.
  2. Disconnect removable capacitor.
  3. Touch the capacitor leads with the wires of an electric bulb with a volt meter or a 5 to 10-watt resistor.

Do not retain it, replace it

It is too risky to save a damaged electronic device, for example, you had a damaged cable, do not save it with insulating tapes. Replace it with a new length of the cable.

Do not use the wrong tools

Examine and ensure that you are utilizing the proper tools and equipment.

Avoid live heat-sinks

When you are working with the main electricity, avoid heat sinks. A triac on a semiconductor produces heat to switch the main electrical currents through the transistors. To make the heat disappear and prevent overheating, a heat sink is integrated.

Meanwhile, non-insulated triac produces a better thermal characteristic, and an insulated triac ensures a heat-sink is not live.

Solder safely

Soldering wires have its own potential dangers, be sure to have a protective equipment. Wear safety goggles. The solder can get hot and can splatter when the air pockets are heated.

Do not overload the circuit

Make sure that the cabling in the circuit does not exceed the maximum current rate.

Double check

It is better to be safe than sorry, test and test the circuit again. Make sure that the voltage meter is giving an accurate reading, examine the body, probes, and wires for any signs of wear and damage.

Protection from an electronic static discharge

For preventive measures, get connected to the ground by wearing an anti-static armband connected by a wire to a metal cold water pipe.