Skip to content

Electronic Device: The Gravy of Technology

Technology is the panacea of all present and future challenges facing mankind. While different people will have other arguments, no one can discount the importance of technology. But imagining tech and all the advances without electronic devices is impossible. An electronic device plays a significant role in actualizing, carrying, epitomizing, and manifesting tech in diverse sectors. So what does it all entail?

Electronic Device in Broader Perspective

Electronic devices, by definition, are components or instruments that control electrical currents for system control and processing of information. It encompasses components like diodes, transistors, transducers, etc. However, most electronic devices prove small and can get assembled in special packages named ICs (integrated circuits). The aspect of miniaturization plays a central role in the modernization and advancement of electronics.

We can trace the history of electronic devices to the invention of the vacuum diode in 1897 by J.A. Fleming. It was closely followed by the vacuum triode invented by Lee Dee for the amplification of electrical signals. The two paved the way for introducing the tetrode, then the pentode tubes widely used till WWII (Second World War).  It then led to the invention of the transistor in 1948 before other important electronic device innovations like the integrated circuit.

Currently, electronic devices and circuits have evolved into complex and miniature devices that fit into small chips. As a result, you can find them in gadgets, computers, home appliances, cameras, cell phones, televisions, etc. It represents an intriguing application of two-dimensional materials, including the new generation of metallic materials, superconductors, semiconductors, semimetals, and insulators.  

Types of Electronic Devices

Power Electronics Circuit Types

Electronics rule almost every aspect of life. Imagine getting by the entire day without bumping into an electronic gadget like a laptop, phone, washing machine, TV, etc. It sounds strange, right?.

Electronic devices, while highly evolved at the moment, went through an evolution process. Some necessary electronic devices have become miniaturized to fit the small electronic appliances in high demand today. So what are these important electronic devices?

Diode

It is a two-terminal device capable of discriminating between negative and positive voltages before selectively blocking one and allowing the other. A diode operates similarly to chargers that convert alternate current voltage at 220V and 50Hz into a direct current of 3.5V. It usually needs a step-down of the current by a transformer before the conversion of AC to DC. Diodes help discriminate between these negative and positive voltages. It also helps to pass one while blocking the other voltage.

Bipolar transistor

It comes as a three-terminal device and is responsible for switching and amplifying electronic power and signals. A bipolar transistor acts as a current source that depends on the voltage. As much as a diode possesses a single p-n junction, the transistor contains two p-n junctions. Understanding such a structure becomes pivotal for any successful engineering efforts of large and small-signal models.

MOSFETS or MOS transistors

MOSFET is an acronym for Metallic Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor. It comprises a semiconductor substrate with a conductive plate layer, a drain, and a source junction on the substrate. Besides refined signal processing circuits, the technology has resulted in lots (billions) of transistors on one chip.  

CMOS technology

It is a complementary device to MOS. MOS devices have two categorizations in NMOS and PMOS. Building both types of MOS on one wafer leads to the CMOS. It is a technology synonymous with most of the current industry players despite the steep associated costs. Therefore, it applies to microprocessors, static RAM, microcontrollers, and other DLCs.

BiCMOS

It is a dominant tech that combines CMOS and bipolar technologies for low power, high speed, and extremely functional VLSI electronic circuits. It implies that high current electronic circuits utilize metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs) to gain control. Additionally, segments of specialized and high-performance circuits utilize bipolar devices.

 

Power Electronic Circuits

The importance of converting power into acceptable modes within the circuit cannot get understated. It allows for the proper functioning of the circuit components and, by extension, the entire electronic circuit. Power electronic circuits exist for this purpose. It is responsible when it comes to controlling the power flow by converting or shaping the voltages from the source.

Power electronic circuits contain power electronic devices. There are four major types of power diodes: thyristors, BJT (power bipolar junction transistors), and power MOSFETs. Each type has different elements. For instance, power diodes can come either as general-purpose, Schottky, or high-speed. On the other hand, Thyristors can come as forced-commutated, line-commutated, GTO, reverse conducting, static induction, LASCR, and Gate-assisted turn-off thyristors.

We classify all power devices under the switching mechanism and their simplicity. The simplified class contains “current capability,” “voltage withstanding,” “get signal,” and “turn on and turn off” categorizations. The switching mechanism has further subcategories like controlled, uncontrolled, continuous, bidirectional current capability, and bipolar voltage-withstanding. It also includes unipolar voltage-withstanding, pulse gate requirement, and unidirectional current capability.

Power Electronics Circuit Types

It comprises diverse types of diode rectifiers, DC-AC converters, DC-DC converters, AC-AC converters, AC-DC converters, and static switches.

  • Rectifiers: Diode rectifiers are responsible for converting AC voltage to fixed DC voltages.
  • AC-DC converters: It comes as a single-phase converter possessing two natural commutated thyristors. The average output voltage value can get controlled by fluctuating the thyristor’s conduction times. Such converters also get referred to as controlled rectifiers.
  • AC-AC converters: Such converters are instrumental in obtaining variable AC voltage output from fixed AC sources. It can come as a single-phase converter complete with a TRIAC.
  • DC-DC converters: alternatively referred to as switching regulators or choppers, have a mean voltage output controlled through varying the transistor’s conduction. Additionally, the chopping period gets referred to as the chopper’s duty cycle.
  • DC-AC converters: it is also inferred as an inverter. Whenever the conduct and the transistor work in separate halves (periods), the voltage output gets referred to as an alternating.
  • Static switches: it is possible to operate power devices as contactors or static switches. In most instances, the supply often proves DC or AC, which designates the type of switches. As a result, you will find DC switches or AC static switches.  

Intelligent Electronic Devices

We manufacture IEDs or intelligent electronic devices for diverse purposes. Application areas transcend metering, communication, controlling, to power monitoring. Intelligent electronic devices get infused into integrated circuit structures to provide them with advanced and refined power automation competencies.

IEDs are components possessing microprocessors like a circuit regulator or controller. It can communicate in different ways. It includes real-time Fieldbus or Ethernet, which is a digital communication approach. You can find IEDs in most industrial control systems and processes like SCADA and DCS.

Intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) have multiple application areas. It includes environmental regulation instruments, food processing, pharmaceutical manufacturing, quality control, sewage treatment plants, and mining. Besides this, it also includes paper mills, automotive manufacturing, metallurgical process plants, refineries, petrochemicals, and water management.    

Intelligent electronic devices obtain data from power equipment and sensors and generate control commands. Such commands can include tripping circuit breakers whenever the sensor detects frequency, current, and voltage anomalies. It can also lower or raise tap positions to maintain a desired level of voltage. IED types include tap changer controllers, protective relay devices, circuit breaker controllers, recloser controllers, voltage regulators, capacitor bank switches, etc.

IED Types

  • Tap changer: it represents a mechanism, primarily in transformers, that permits variable turn ratio selections in distinctive steps. It happens by establishing a connection with access points or taps along the secondary or primary winding. Types of tap changers include NLTC (no-load tap changers) and OLTC (on-load tap changers)
  • Circuit breaker controllers: It is a system equipped with protective features such as the renowned automatic trip attribute, especially for under-voltage, under-frequency, and overcurrent. Whenever a closed circuit breaker experiences any of the conditions enumerated, it closes its associated contact and trips the coil leading to the tripping of the entire circuit breaker.  
  • Recloser controllers: It is a vital aspect of the power distribution system. You can easily locate them in distribution substations or feeders. Recloser controllers supply the required intelligence to networks besides handling RTU functionality and network protection.
  • Capacitor bank switches: It is an important mechanism of de-energizing and energizing capacitor banks. The mechanism aims at maintaining the desired levels of system voltage as the reactive loads get disconnected and connected to your utility system.
  • Voltage regulators: It represents a system whose design is to maintain constant voltages. It can deploy simple negative feedback or a feed-forward system. Additionally, it may use electronic components or electromechanical mechanisms.
  • Protective relay devices: It represents a switchgear instrument or device responsible for the detection of faults. The device then initiates the circuit breaker so that it can isolate the problem from the system. It has different types and with a significant size reduction from earlier periods. Some of the component types in a protective relay scheme include time delay relay, protective relay, secondary circuit, auxiliary relay, trip relay, etc. Every component plays a significant role in the general scheme of the system operation.

Electricity Devices

Electricity devices, often referred to as electrical devices, take the electrical current or energy before transforming it into simple forms of energy like motion, heat, or light. It utilizes electrical energy directly to function or do a task. However, electricity or electric devices often get conflated to imply electronic devices due to the misunderstanding of their subtle differences. Getting it right can prove the difference, especially when communicating with an engineer.  

Electricity devices can get traced to 1893 when Alan MacMaster developed the initial electric toaster. Plenty of electrical devices exists, with each having a distinctive function. For instance, some of the devices that get powered using electricity include the following,

Types of Electricity Devices

  • Antenna, Aerial, Transmitting Aerial: Such devices are responsible for transmitting television and radio signals.
  • Attenuator: It is a device responsible for the strength attenuation of electrical signals.
  • Ballast, Light Ballast: The device starts and regulates discharge and fluorescent lamps
  • Inductor: It is an electrical device responsible for introducing inductance to circuits
  • Reactor: It is responsible for introducing reactance into circuits
  • Electric Cell: The electric cell delivers electric current that emanates from a chemical reaction
  • Electrostatic Generator: the electrical device generates high voltages by accumulating static electricity.
  • Capacitor: It stores and discharges energy as an electrostatic field though it cannot permit any abrupt voltage change
  • Motor: A motor utilizes electrical energy to function mechanically, for instance, in elevators, escalators, etc. It functions on the electrodynamic induction principle.
  • The transformer is an electrical device that steps down or steps up the voltage during transmission and supply or distribution. However, the transfer of power often remains constant.   

Transferred Electron Devices

TED or transferred electron devices are present on the bulk negative variance conductivity that occurs in specific two-valley semiconductors. It happens at a high bias field due to a scatter of the hot electrons in the inter-valley. It includes special and compound semiconductors like GaAs.

Transfer electron devices show periodic current fluctuations due to the effects of negative resistance, especially when the voltage threshold gets exceeded (usually 3.4V).

Types of Transferred Electron Devices

Gunn Diode

It is a particular type of TED primarily deployed in one-port reflection amplifiers or microwave oscillators. The Gunn Diode has a structure comprising the “N-negative” and the active region, usually sandwiched between N-positive regions. It functions through the actions of electrons, which move from the cathode towards the anode. The drift movements happen in domains, which is a type of bunched formation.

The Gunn diode has three operating modes in stable amplification, transit time, and limited space-charge modes. In most instances, the Gunn diode will excite the resonant cavity through a shock action using current pulses.

The Gunn diode has different application areas, including a microwave source for police radars, receiver local oscillator, and microwave links of communication.

IMPATT

The acronym stands for Impact-ionization Avalanche Transit time. It consists of GaAs, InP, and Si and can generate high power that exceeds 30 GHz. It also offers negative resistance by utilizing phase shift. Negative resistance gets achieved by shifting the phase current between the device and applied voltage.  

The three structures (GaAs, InP, and Si) have regions with specific functions. For instance, the Avalanche region ensures the multiplication process where field intensity and doping concentration are high. The drift region excludes any avalanche multiplication process, and thus the field levels and doping concentrations are low. DR together with AR encompasses the depletion region.

IMPATT uses the transit time and impacts ionization properties synonymous with semiconductor structures in getting negative resistance in microwave frequencies. It consists of a drift zone and a reverse-biased P-N junction.    

Avalanche

Current cannot flow if the P-N junction gets reverse-biased. However, in exceeding a specific value of the reverse voltage, the junction disintegrates, and the current flow albeit with a slight rise in voltage. Such a breakdown results from the avalanche multiplication of holes and electrons in the junction’s space charge area or region.

Microwave Transistors

It primarily consists of GaAsFETs and silicon BJTs, where the BJT becomes useful in amplifying power to approximately 6 MHz. While we can operate MesFET and HEMT beyond 60 GHz, FETs contain better efficiency, advanced input impedance, and more frequency stability.       

Electronic Devices and Electrical Devices

The confusion engulfs most people in the electronic industry encompasses distinguishing between electrical and electronic devices. People often will troop to RayMing PCB and Assembly to get some guidance on this before meeting their engineer. So what do electronic devices and electrical devices mean? What are their differences?

Electronic Devices

Electronic devices represent components responsible for the control of electrical current. It mainly involves the flow of current for system control and information processing. While many examples include diodes and transistors, such devices often come small and can get assembled into special packages inferred as integrated circuits.

Electronic devices always perform three primary functions. It includes switching, amplification, and oscillation within a circuit. Such a potent combination in a circuit allows for the enhancement of functions like developing high-speed computer operations.  It, therefore, hardly surprises that most engineers tap into and exploit the three functions in developing unique solutions to different industry needs.

Electronic devices include bipolar junction transistors (BJT), diodes, junction field-effect transistor (JFET), MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor), etc.

Electrical Devices

Electrical devices represent devices that directly deploy electrical energy in performing specific tasks. It often converts electrical energy or power into heat, light, and motion. Electric devices often get confused with electronic devices. However, subtle and major differences exist between the two types of devices.

Differences between Electrical Devices and Electronic Devices

  • The main difference between electricity or electronic devices and electrical devices is that electricity devices convert electrical energy to other energy forms such as light or heat. On the other hand, electronic devices control the electron flow to perform or achieve specific tasks.
  • Electrical devices use metallic materials such as aluminum and copper to conduct current. Electronic devices, on the other hand, utilize semiconductor materials such as germanium and silicon.
  • Electrical devices use AC or alternating current, while electronic devices use DC or direct current.
  • When it comes to voltage, electrical devices function on higher voltages, whereas electronic devices operate on low voltages.
  • Electrical devices consume more power because of the high voltages, whereas electronic devices consume less.
  • What’s more? Electrical devices have a rapid response time, need more space, and have no requirement for data manipulation. On the other hand, electronic devices have a slower response time, need less space, and slower response time.

Similarity    

All electronic and electrical devices rely on electron flow to perform specific operations. Additionally, both electronic and electrical devices use transformers in transmitting the required voltages.

Relay Electronic Device

It implies to electronic device responsible for opening or closing circuit contacts devoid of any mechanical action. The CCPRS (Current Carrier Pilot Relaying Scheme) gets deployed in electronic relays to safeguard the line (transmission). In most instances, the devices have electronic valves instrumental in taking measurements. For example, a relay electronic device can use an amplitude or phase comparator.

Electronic relays are instrumental for diverse reasons, though the benefits often prove unrivaled. For instance, it requires very little maintenance, has a rapid response time, and decreases the burden or load imposed on the instrument’s transformer. The drawbacks of electronic relays, on the other hand, include the need for high tension to operate. Additionally, it consumes a lot of power besides the relay having a short lifespan. It is also crucial to note that electronic relays do not apply in power systems.

Most people also tend to confuse electronic relay devices and electric relay devices. However, the two are different. For instance, electrical relays represent switches that are electrically operated. Electrical switches also come in diverse power ratings, sizes, and shapes.

Differences

Relay electronic devices, alternatively inferred as solid-state relay devices, are different from relay electric devices.      

Firstly, relay electronic devices use the electronic relay mechanism to switch on or switch off circuits, while electric relay devices use an electric relay approach. Electronic relays contain Thyristors Discs, Triacs, and Diodes which allows for biased leakage. Therefore, it may become impossible for it to withstand high spikes in voltage. Conversely, electrical relays offer a genuine separation in the primary un-conductive state besides real contact separation using an air gap.

An electronic relay has no moving segments or parts, implying that not even one mechanical part intervenes in breaking the flow of current. On the other hand, an electrical relay proves electromechanical and mechanical contacts get opened or closed by the action of magnetic forces.

Electrical relays tend to get worn out easily, unlike electronic ones that can last indefinitely when operated within the detailed thermal and electrical specifications.

Final Remarks

An electronic device is an essential piece in developing electronic gadgets, equipment, and the industry as a whole. A designer, therefore, needs to learn everything possible about electronic devices, their features, their role in electronic circuits, how to build them, etc. While it is a comprehensive subject, starting by considering the insights provided will set you on the right path regarding electronics, circuits, and devices.