Circuits, Circuit Boards & Semiconductors: Uses & Parts

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  • 0:02 Circuits
  • 0:29 Electronic Circuit Parts
  • 1:28 Circuit Boards
  • 2:09 Semiconductors
  • 3:21 Integrated Circuits
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Current flows through electronic circuits. Learn about the parts of a circuit and how circuits are built around circuit boards. Also, discover how semiconductors showed us the path to the small, but powerful integrated circuits of modern electronics.

Circuits

How do you fit a world's worth of knowledge into the size of a human fingernail? It sounds impossible, but by using the magic of integrated circuits it's not only possible, it's happening. In this lesson, we will look at how technology has advanced from early electronic circuits to integrated circuits and how semiconductors made these advancements a reality.

Electronic Circuit Parts

Electronic circuits are complete courses of conductive materials through which current can flow. If you look at a general electric current, it might look like a confusing collection of dots, lines, and funny shapes. That's because electronic currents are made up of many different parts or components.

For instance, within an electronic circuit, you will find resistors that can reduce or resist the electrical current, transistors that can amplify or turn up the electrical current, and diodes that direct the flow of the electrical current in only one direction. We also find capacitors that have the capacity to store electric charge and inductors that are basically coiled wires that store energy within a magnetic field, which helps resist changes in electric current.

Circuit Boards

Electronic circuits allow data to be transferred from one place to another. To save space, electronic currents are built around printed circuit boards, which are thin boards of non-conductive material on which conductive pathways are etched. The conductive pathways connect the electronic components that are mounted on the board. Printed circuit boards work fine and are quite a technological advancement from the earliest days of electronics, yet even this technology took a quantum leap with the introduction of a new type of material called semiconductors.

Semiconductors

Periodic Table

To understand semiconductors, which are substances that can conduct electricity under certain circumstances, it will help us to take a look at the periodic table. As you may know, the periodic table is a listing of the known elements. The table is basically divided into metals and nonmetals. The metals are most of the elements on the left side of the table. They are thought to be good conductors of electricity. The nonmetals are mainly grouped together on the right side of the table. They are thought to be poor conductors of electricity.

Then, we have some elements that don't entirely fit into the category of metal or nonmetal; these elements are called metalloids, and they are found somewhat in the middle of the periodic table. Some of the metalloids, in particular silicon, can be used as semiconductors. It was discovered that by making changes to silicon, like adding impurities, the element could be made to conduct electricity in different ways. The unique electrical conductivity of semiconductors has made them the foundation for most modern electronics.

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