|Topics||Conductors, Direct Current (DC), Electrons, Fuses, Inductors, Resistors, Series Circuit, Transformers, Transistors|
Conductors are elements that allow electrons to flow freely. Their valence shell is less than half full of electrons that are able to move easily from one atom to another.
Direct current flows in only one direction in a circuit, from the negative terminal of the voltage source to the positive. A common source of direct current (DC) is a battery.
All electricity is the movement of electrons which are subatomic particles that orbit the nucleus of an atom. Electrons occupy various energy levels called shells and how well an element enables the flow of electrons depends on how many electrons occupy its outer (valence) electron shell.
Fuses are thin wires that melt when the current in a circuit exceeds a preset amount. They help prevent short circuits from damaging circuit components when an unusually large current is applied to the circuit, either through component failure or spikes in applied voltage.
An inductor is coiled wire that stores electric energy in the form of magnetic energy and resists changes in the electric current flowing through it. If current is increasing, the inductor produces a voltage that slows the increase and, if current is decreasing, the magnetic energy in the coil opposes the decrease to keep the current flowing longer. In contrast to capacitors, inductors allow DC to pass easily but resist the flow of AC.
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.
A series circuit has only one path for current to flow. In a series circuit, current (I) is the same throughout the circuit and is equal to the total voltage (V) applied to the circuit divided by the total resistance (R) of the loads in the circuit. The sum of the voltage drops across each resistor in the circuit will equal the total voltage applied to the circuit.
A transformer utilizes an inductor to increase or decrease the voltage in a circuit. AC flowing in a coil wrapped around an iron core magnetizes the core causing it to produce a magnetic field. This magnetic field generates a voltage in a nearby coil of wire and, depending on the number of turns in the wire of the primary (source) and secondary coils and their proximity, voltage is induced in the secondary coil.
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.