|Topics||Capacitors, Diodes, Magnetic Fields, Ohm's Law, Open & Closed Circuits, Resistance, Resistors, Transistors|
Capacitors store electricity and are used in circuits as temporary batteries. Capacitors are charged by DC current (AC current passes through a capacitor) and that stored charge can later be dissipated into the circuit as needed. Capacitors are often used to maintain power within a system when it is disconnected from its primary power source or to smooth out or filter voltage within a circuit.
A diode allows current to pass easily in one direction and blocks current in the other direction. Diodes are commonly used for rectification which is the conversion of alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC). Because a diode only allows current flow in one direction, it will pass either the upper or lower half of AC waves (half-wave rectification) creating pulsating DC. Multiple diodes can be connected together to utilize both halves of the AC signal in full-wave rectification.
A moving electric current produces a magnetic field proportional to the amount of current flow. This magnetic field can be made stronger by winding the wire into a coil and further enhanced if done around an iron containing (ferrous) core.
Ohm's law specifies the relationship between voltage (V), current (I), and resistance (R) in an electrical circuit: V = IR.
A closed circuit is a complete loop or path that electricity follows. It consists of a source of voltage, a load, and connective conductors. If the circuit is interrupted, if a wire is disconnected or cut for example, it becomes an open circuit and no electricity will flow.
Resistance is opposition to the flow of current and is measured in ohms (Ω). One ohm is defined as the amount of resistance that will allow one ampere of current to flow if one volt of voltage is applied. As resistance increases, current decreases as resistance and current are inversely proportional.
Resistors are used to limit voltage and/or current in a circuit and can have a fixed or variable resistance. Variable resistors (often called potentiometers or rheostats) are used when dynamic control over the voltage/current in a circuit is needed, for example, in a light dimmer or volume control.
The transistor is the foundation of modern electronic devices. It is made entirely from semiconductor material (making it a solid state device) and can serve many different functions in a circuit including acting as a switch, amplifier, or current regulator. A transistor works by allowing a small amount of current applied at the base to control general current flow from collector to emitter through the transistor.