Ampere (A) The unit of measurement of electric current.

Amplifier Electronic device or circuit that produces an output signal with greater power, voltage, or current than that provided by the input signal.

Capacitance (C) The capability of a component to store an electric charge when voltage is applied across the component, measured in farads.

Capacitor A component that stores electric charge when voltage is applied to it, that can return the charge to a circuit in the form of electric current when the voltage is removed.

Discrete components Individual electronic parts such as resistors, diodes, capacitors, and transistors.

Diode A component that conducts current in one direction only.

Farad (F) The unit of measurement of capacitance.

Feedback A connection from the output of an amplifier back to the input, where a portion of the output voltage is used to control, stabilize, or modify the operation of the amplifier.

Frequency (f) Number of cycles of a waveform that occur in a given time period, measured in hertz (cycles per second).

Ground Zero volts. This is the arbitrary reference point in a circuit from which all voltage measurements are made.

Henry (H) The unit of measurement of inductance.

Impedance (Z) Total opposition (resistance and reactance) of a circuit to AC current flow, measured in ohms.

Inductance (L) The property of a component that opposes any change in an existing current, measured in henrys.

Inductor A coil of wire whose magnetic field opposes changes in current flow when the voltage across the coil is changed.

Integrated circuit (IC) Electronic component in the form of a very small silicon chip in which numerous transistors and other components have been built to form a circuit.

Kirchhoff’s laws A set of formulas that form the basis for DC and AC circuit analysis, including: current law (KCL): The sum of all currents at a junction equals zero; and voltage law (KVL): The sum of all voltages in a loop equals zero.

Ohm (#) The unit of measurement of resistance.

Ohm’s law A formula used to calculate the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance, expressed as V = IR. Also expressed as E = IR.

Operational amplifier (op-amp) An integrated circuit, multi-stage amplifier. An op-amp is much smaller and, therefore, more practical than an equivalent amplifier made with discrete components.

Oscillator An electronic circuit that produces a continuous output signal such as a sine wave or square wave.

Phase angle For a signal, the angle of lead or lag between the current waveform and the voltage waveform.

Phase shift The change in phase of a signal as it passes through a circuit, such as in an amplifier.

Power The expenditure of energy over time. Power is measured in watts.

Reactance (X) The degree of opposition of a component to the flow of alternating current (AC), measured in ohms. There are two types of reactance: capacitive reactance (XC) exhibited by capacitors and inductive reactance (XL) exhibited by inductors.

Rectification The process of changing alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).

Resistance (R) The degree of opposition of a component to the flow of electric current, measured in ohms.

Resistor A component whose value is determined by the amount of opposition it has to the flow of electric current.

Semiconductor A material that has electrical characteristics of a conductor or an insulator, depending on how it is treated. Silicon is the semiconductor material most commonly used in electronic components.

Transformer A component that transforms an input AC voltage to either a higher level (step up transformer) or a lower level (step down transformer) AC voltage.

Transistor, BJT A bipolar junction transistor (BJT) is a semiconductor component that can either be used as a switch or an amplifier. In either case, a small input signal controls the transistor, producing a much larger output signal.

Transistor, JFET A junction field effect transistor (JFET), like the bipolar junction transistor, can be used either as a switch or an amplifier.

Transistor, MOSFET Metal oxide silicon field effect transistor (MOSFET); like the BJT and JFET, a MOSFET can be used either as a switch or an amplifier. The MOSFET is the most commonly used transistor in integrated circuits.

Turns ratio (TR) The ratio of the number of turns in the primary or input winding of a transformer to the number of turns in the secondary or output winding.

Volt (V) The unit of measurement for the potential difference that causes a current to flow through a conductor.

Watt (W) Unit of electric power dissipated as heat when 1 amp of current flows through a component that has 1 volt applied across it.

Zener A particular type of diode that will flow current at a definite reverse-bias voltage level.

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