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Understanding the Difference Between Passive and Active Electronic Components

The fundamental difference between active and passive components is that an active component provides energy to an electrical circuit. A passive component stores the energy in a capacitor. It stores this energy for later use. Another example of a passive component is a transformer, which raises the voltage levels of an electrical circuit’s primary and secondary sides. In a transformer, the energy is not amplified but stored. This makes active and passive devices a popular choice for power supplies.

What Are Passive Components?

Passive components are helpful in a variety of electronic devices. Unlike active components, they do not need a source of energy to operate. Instead, they work to attenuate the energy of a signal without distorting its waveform. One such example is a resistor, which opposes the flow of electrical current. The resulting energy is released as heat and dissipated by the resistor.

The multi-layer ceramic chip capacitor is a workhorse among the many passive components used in electronics. Its high capacitance and small size make it popular across multiple industries. Passive devices are ideal for smartphones, smart watches, electric vehicles, TV sets, home automation, and smart speakers. It is even essential in video cards for cryptocurrency trading.

Passive electronic components are essential to several PCB designers. These designers must be able to find accurate PCB footprints for a passive device and understand how to use existing footprints to design new passive components.

Some ECAD software packages only include a handful of components with SMD and through-hole footprints, so it is essential to include these components in the library of your design program.

Passive and active components can be helpful in the same circuit, so knowing their differences is essential. In addition, understanding the differences between the two will help you understand individual electronic components better.

Active Component

Active electronic components are increasingly helpful in various applications, including mobile devices, smart cities, and automobiles. This section will discuss the demand for these components and their manufacturing. We will also look at the cost of raw materials, which are essential to produce these components.

Demand for active electronics components

The global market for active electronic components is highly fragmented and competitive. The industry has numerous regional and global vendors actively engaged in technological advancement, regional expansion, merger & acquisition, and product development.

The influx of new players into the market also puts pressure on the existing players to launch new products and components that appeal to consumers. In addition, the brand name has a significant role to play in influencing the decision of consumers when it comes to purchasing an active electronic component.

In 2018, North America dominated the global active electronic components market. The region derived great support from the growing demand for consumer electronics, industrial automation, and business intelligence.

Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific region saw strong growth owing to the rising adoption of energy-efficient products and mobile devices. Moreover, China, India, and Japan are ahead of the industry due to their rapid industrialization and growing high-tech products.

The Asia-Pacific region is likely to overtake North America in the future. The region will grow at a 9.1% CAGR during the forecast period. China is likely the fastest-growing market in the region, owing to its large consumer electronics market. South Korea and Japan will also likely experience significant growth during the forecast period.


Active electronic components are vital for various applications, from consumer electronics to military and space technologies. These versatile components require accurate PCB layout and manufacturability guidelines for successful operation.

The first step in creating a PCB layout is illustrating the component symbol or footprint. Creating footprints from scratch can be time-consuming, so it is essential to use CAD libraries to help make this task easier.

The growing demand for active electronic components will fuel the market’s growth over the coming years. The industry has segments based on end-users, such as information technology, aerospace and defense, automotive, and healthcare.

However, consumer electronic components will likely hold the largest share over the forecast period, driven by the increasing adoption of mobile devices and low labor costs in manufacturing.

Active electronic components are susceptible to failure due to high temperature, excess current, ionizing radiation, mechanical shock, and stress. In addition, these components are vulnerable to defects caused by product packaging. Some common types of failure include contact failure, faulty printed circuit boards, and MEMS failures.

Manufacturers of active electronic components may face supply-demand imbalances and shortages. For instance, a component supplier may be necessary to allocate a percentage of its output to a few key customers, which may lead to disruptions in production. As a result, manufacturers must constantly monitor and communicate with their component suppliers.

Cost of raw materials

One of the key challenges of the active electronic components industry is the cost of raw materials. These costs are volatile and change dramatically throughout the day. Additionally, labor costs add to the cost of a finished product. This problem is a major impediment to the growth of the active electronic components market.

Typically, passive components consist of engineered pastes or powders. These materials represent the highest variable cost. The price of these materials has increased by more than 12% since September, indicating strong demand.

Rising commodity prices present an additional challenge for the electronics industry. This can lead to significant adjustments in supply chains. Furthermore, since raw materials are major inputs for producing finished electronics products, price increases may hurt profitability. Consequently, electronics companies are working to reduce the impact of these changes.

The industry uses many materials, including copper, silver, nickel, and aluminum. Many of these materials are common to personal electronics, such as cell phones, laptops, and smartphones.

Other materials used in personal electronics include plastics, copper wiring, and specialized ceramics for screens and other parts. As a result, prices may also fluctuate depending on what the market is doing.

Difference Between Active components and Passive Components

Understanding the difference between active and passive components in an electrical circuit is essential. The active elements in a circuit provide power and control current flow. Active and passive devices are typically made from p-type or n-type semiconductor materials and are either two-terminal or three-terminal. Both diodes and transistors exhibit an amplifying action.


Resistors are passive elements that regulate the current flow in a circuit. They work the same way as pipes and water, allowing you to control the flow of electricity through your circuit. We measure the resistance of a resistor in ohms. There are many different uses for resistors.

Resistors consist of copper wire wound around a ceramic. The number of turns and thickness of the copper wire will affect the resistance. Therefore, carbon film resistors are also necessary.

They are less expensive and are helpful in lower power circuits. Carbon film resistors have a spiral pattern shape. However, they do not have polarity and can be unreliable for some circuits.


The two basic types of the inductor are active and passive. Active components require an external source to operate, while passive components don’t. Passive components can either be linear or nonlinear. Passive components, like resistors, absorb energy and convert it into heat when a current passes through them.

An inductor, on the other hand, converts the energy into a magnetic field. This stored energy is then delivered intermittently to the circuit. However, this energy is not stable and is subject to fluctuations.

The difference between active and passive components is that active components can control the flow of current in a circuit. Active components can amplify an electrical signal more than they can demodulate it.

However, passive components cannot regulate the flow of current. As a result, both components have different slopes on the VI characteristics curve, with active components lying in the 2nd and fourth quadrants and passive components in the first and third.


The difference between transistor components lies in how we power the active component. While an active element produces energy, a passive component stores energy in a magnetic or electric field. A transformer is a device that converts the energy from one side of the circuit to the other. It is also able to regulate the flow of current and voltage.

An infographic can easily understand the difference between active and passive components. It lists the active and passive components, explains their functions, and compares the benefits of each. For example, the active components can control the flow of electricity while the passive components cannot.

Active components are found in most electronic devices, whereas passive components do not. For example, we can find active components in devices with computing power, built-in batteries, or displays. On the other hand, passive components are helpful in other devices, such as batteries and light-emitting diodes.


Several factors affect capacitor values. A high-quality capacitor will have a low ESR, which is crucial for noise and ripple rejection. A low ESR is also important for decoupling supply lines. Ceramic capacitors are good for this purpose because of their smaller plate size and lower self-inductance.

Another benefit of ceramic capacitors is that they are stable over a wide range of frequencies. High-temperature-grade aluminum/tantalum capacitors are another option, as they exhibit stable bias and temperature characteristics. However, they are often prone to bimodality, which increases the ESR and can even cause the part to become defective.

Capacitors do not require an external energy source to function, unlike inductors. The physical structure and material used to manufacture a capacitor determine its capacitance. Transformers are another example of passive electronic components. Transformers, like capacitors, increase the voltage of an electrical circuit but do not affect the current flow.

Capacitors in switched-mode power supplies


The capacitor in switched-mode power supplies (SMPS) serves various functions. It provides output isolation, helps maintain the uniformity of current, and reduces noise. We use different capacitor technologies, SMPS.

A switch-mode power supply can regulate voltage in three ways: step-up, step-down, or negation. They can also be configured in three basic circuit topologies: Boost, Buck, or Buck-Boost.

The Role of Diodes in Electronic Circuits

Diodes are two-terminal electronic components that allow a unidirectional flow of current. They act as an electronic check valve and convert alternating current into direct current (DC). Diodes consist of semiconductor materials, either silicon or germanium. Some applications are shields for solar panels and to protect loads from voltage spikes.

An active component provides power gain so that a small voltage can control a larger current. On the other hand, passive components do not have this ability, so ordinary diodes, Zener diodes, and LEDs are all considered passive.

This is because ordinary diodes only show a positive resistance, implying that energy flows into the component. As a result, passive components can control the intensity of a light source but cannot amplify it.

Diodes are essential electronic components, as they control current flow in an electronic circuit. These devices also help in controlling voltages within circuits. They are helpful in various circuits and are common in electronic component. There are two common types of diodes: crystal diodes and electronic diodes.

In contrast, passive components do not require an external source of voltage. Capacitors, inductors, and resistors do not require a separate voltage source. However, light-emitting diodes do need a source of voltage to operate.

Integrated Circuit in Active and Passive Components

The basic difference between these electronic components is that active components need an external power source while passive components do not. Therefore, passive components are simple and linear and have linear properties.

By contrast, active components can amplify electrical current, control its flow, or utilize it. They also have two fundamental properties: linearity and non-linearity.

Passive components store and deliver energy to a circuit but do not provide any power gain or loss. Similarly, inductors and capacitors store energy but do not gain power and do not require additional voltage. They also have a limited capacity. The differences between these components are essential to understand in terms of electronic component placement.

Integrated circuits are common in computers, microprocessors, and computer networks. They are also known as memory chips, logic ICs, and programmable circuits. Analog ICs can either be linear Integrated Circuits or Radio Frequency ICs.

Integrated circuits can have many components, including resistors, capacitors, and transistors. During the design phase, the electronic components align according to a set design.

The number of electronic components needed will depend on the complexity of the circuit. For example, an IC may require several transistors to amplify an electrical signal.

Analog circuits are some of the simplest types of ICs. These circuits connect to devices that collect and send environmental signals. Examples include microphones, which convert fluctuating vocal sounds into electrical signals. They also have a control function that amplifies the sound and filters out unwanted noise.


In electronic circuits, active and passive components serve two basic functions: supply power to the circuit and control the flow of electricity. The difference between active and passive is how these electronic components control current flow.

An active component is necessary when we need to control the flow of electricity. These devices may be resistors, capacitors, inductors, transformers, and diodes. Passive components cannot control the flow of electricity, but they can influence it.

Both types of devices are helpful in many electronic devices. While we find passive components in everyday items, active components are useful in more complex and sophisticated applications. The most common examples are inductors used in microwave and radio frequency applications and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Passive components are different from an active component in many ways. A capacitor, for example, store energy in the form of an electric field. It is not a source of power but rather storage for later use. A transformer, on the other hand, raises the voltage level of a circuit. This way, it keeps power constant on the primary and secondary sides but not amplified.