Glossary of Electronic Components and Terms
Amplification: The process of producing a larger voltage, current, or power using a smaller input signal as a pattern.
Barrier Potential: The amount of voltage required to move electrons through the depletion region of a pn junction diode.
Base: One of the semiconductor regions in a bipolar junction transistor.
Bipolar Junction Transistor (BJT): A transistor constructed with three doped semiconductor regions separated by two pn junctions.
Bipolar: Characterized by two pn junctions.
Bridge Rectifier: A type of full-wave rectifier consisting of diodes arranged in a four-cornered configuration.
Capacitor-input Filter: A power supply filter that uses a capacitor from the rectifier output to ground to eliminate most of the variation in the rectifier output voltage.
Class A Amplifier: An amplifier circuit that conducts for the entire input cycle and produces an output signal that is a replica of the input signal in terms of its waveshape.
Class B Amplifier: An amplifier circuit that conducts for half of the input cycle.
Collector: One of the semiconductor regions in a BJT.
Common-Collector (CC): A BJT amplifier configuration in which the collector is the common (grounded) terminal.
Common-Drain (CD): A FET amplifier configuration in which the drain is the common terminal.
Common-Emitter (CE): A BJT amplifier configuration in which the emitter is the common (grounded) terminal.
Common-Source (CS): A FET amplifier configuration in which the source is the common terminal.
Current Gain: The ratio of output current to input current.
Cutoff: The nonconducting state of a transistor.
DC Power Supply: An electronic instrument that produces voltage, current, and power from the AC power line or batteries in a form suitable for use in powering electronic equipment.
Depletion Mode: The condition in a FET when the channel is depleted of majority carriers.
Diode: An electronic device that permits current in only one direction.
Doping: The process of imparting impurities to an intrinsic semiconductive material to control its conduction characteristics.
Drain: One of the three terminals of a field-effect transistor.
Emitter: One of the three semiconductor regions in a BJT.
Enhancement Mode: The condition of a MOSFET when the channel has an abundance of majority carriers.
Feedback: The process of returning a portion of a circuit’s output signal to the input in such a way as to create certain specified operating conditions.
Forward Bias: The condition in which a diode conducts current.
Full-wave Rectifier: A circuit that converts an alternating sine wave into pulsating DC consisting of both halves of a sine wave for each input cycle.
Gate: One of the three terminals of a FET.
Half-wave Rectifier: A circuit that converts an alternating sine wave into pulsating DC consisting of one-half of a sine wave for each input cycle.
Hole: The absence of an electron in the valence band of an atom.
Integrated Circuit (IC): A type of circuit in which all the components are constructed on a single tiny chip of silicon.
Intrinsic Semiconductor: A pure semiconductive material with relatively few free electrons.
JFET (Junction Field-Effect Transistor): A type of FET that operates with a reverse-biased junction to control current in a channel.
LED (Light-Emitting Diode): A type of diode that emits light when there is forward current.
Line Regulation: The change in output voltage for a given change in line (input) voltage, normally expressed as a percentage.
Load Regulation: The change in output voltage for a given change in load current, normally expressed as a percentage.
Majority Carrier: The most numerous charge carrier in a doped semiconductive material (either free electrons or holes).
Minority Carrier: The least numerous charge carrier in a doped semiconductive material (either free electrons or holes).
MOSFET (Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor): A type of FET that uses a metal-oxide semiconductor to control current flow.
Oscillator: A circuit that produces a repetitive waveform on its output with only the DC supply voltage as an input.
Photodiode: A diode whose reverse resistance changes with incident light.
PIV (Peak Inverse Voltage): The maximum value of reverse voltage that occurs at the peak of the input cycle when the diode is reverse-biased.
PN Junction: The boundary between n-type and p-type semiconductive materials.
Power Gain: The ratio of output power to input power; the product of voltage gain and current gain.
Q-Point: The DC operating (bias) point of an amplifier.
Regulator: An electronic circuit that maintains an essentially constant output voltage with changing input voltage or load.
Reverse Bias: The condition in which a diode prevents current.
Reverse Breakdown: The condition of a diode in which excessive reverse-bias voltage causes a rapid buildup of reverse current.
Saturation: The state of a transistor in which the output current is maximum, and further increases of the input variable have no effect on the output.
Silicon: A semiconductive material used in diodes and transistors.
Source: One of the three terminals of a FET.
Transistor: A semiconductor device that controls current between two terminals based on the current or voltage at a third terminal and is used for the amplification or switching of electrical signals.
Varactor: A diode that is used as a voltage-variable capacitor.
Zener Diode: A type of diode that operates in reverse breakdown (called zener breakdown) to provide voltage regulation.