Electronics, a branch of physics and electrical engineering, deals with the emission, behaviour, and effects of electrons and with electronic devices. The invention of the transistor showed remarkable potential for expanding the utility of electronic equipment. Other electronic devices such as pn junction diode brought about a significant development in the electronics industry. In this article, let us look at a few fun facts about electronic circuits.
Why are the circuit boards always green?
Printed circuit boards were first developed in the early 1900s. Earliest versions were constructed with simple wires that connected components by a series of pegs or posts. This type of connection was unreliable as these connections would crack and degrade over time. Now, manufacturers needed a non-conductive yet durable substrate to lay the conductive copper traces. One of the cheapest solutions to this was fibreglass that was bonded with a glass-reinforced epoxy-resin. Since the natural colour of this glass is green, the circuit boards appear green too. This circuit board construction material came to be known as FR-4. The FR stands for “Flame-Retardant” and is the most widely used PCB material.
What do the numbers and symbols mean on an Integrated Chip?
Usually, we notice a notch or dot on an IC. What you see is not an accident. This mark designates how the IC should be oriented on the circuit board. If not placed correctly, the chip will burn due to the input-output reversal. The next confusing thing in a chip is identifying the marks on the chip itself. Most integrated circuits have three lines. The rule of thumb is first the manufacturer – which is usually a symbol rather than text, followed by the model number and then a date code.
How small can components get?
There is a theory called Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors that can be placed in integrated circuits doubles every two years. The first transistor released by Texas instruments called the Multivibrator #502 contained only six resistors, four diodes and two capacitors and two transistors. Today, we have processors that contain 7.2 billion transistors.
The general observation is that the smaller the things become, the harder it is to predict their behaviour. The property of transistors is to direct the flow of electrons. At a quantum scale, this becomes difficult because once the insulating material directing the electrons becomes thin enough, they will no longer block the flow of electrons. Instead, it will simply let it pass through. In a circuit, this would cause a failure. Until this problem is addressed, there is a hard limit on how small transistors can be made.
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So, these were a few exciting things about electronics. If you have one to share, we would love to hear it. Please share your fun facts below.