Electronics is the branch of physics, engineering and technology dealing with electrical circuits that involve active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies. The nonlinear behaviour of active components and their ability to control electron flows makes amplification of weak signals possible and is usually applied to information and signal processing. Similarly, the ability of electronic devices to act as switches makes digital information processing possible.
Passivity is a property of engineering systems, used in a variety of engineering disciplines, but most commonly found in analog electronics and control systems. A passive component, depending on field, may be either a component that consumes (but does not produce) energy (thermodynamic passivity), or a component that is incapable of power gain (incremental passivity).
An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical elements such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, transmission lines, voltage sources, current sources and switches. An electrical circuit is a special type of network, one that has a closed loop giving a return path for the current. Electrical networks that consist only of sources (voltage or current), linear lumped elements (resistors, capacitors, inductors), and linear distributed elements (transmission lines) can be analyzed by algebraic and transform methods to determine DC response, AC response, and transient response.
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as IC, chip, or microchip) is an electronic circuit manufactured by lithography, or the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material. Additional materials are deposited and patterned to form interconnections between semiconductor devices.
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to amplify and switch electronic signals and power. It is composed of a semiconductor material with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current flowing through another pair of terminals. Because the controlled (output) power can be higher than the controlling (input) power, a transistor can amplify a signal. Today, some transistors are packaged individually, but many more are found embedded in integrated circuits.
In electronics, a diode is a two-terminal electronic component with asymmetric transfer characteristic, with low (ideally zero) resistance to current flow in one direction, and high (ideally infinite) resistance in the other. A semiconductor diode, the most common type today, is a crystalline piece of semiconductor material with a p-n junction connected to two electrical terminals. A vacuum tube diode, now rarely used except in some high-power technologies and by enthusiasts, is a vacuum tube with two electrodes, a plate (anode) and cathode.