Electronic device that operates on the basis of the electric, magnetic, or optical properties of a solid material, especially one that uses a solid crystal in which an orderly three-dimensional arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules is repeated throughout the entire crystal. Synthetic crystals of elements such as silicon, gallium arsenide, and germanium are used in transistors, rectifiers, and integrated circuits. The first solid-state device was the “cat's whisker” (1906), in which a fine wire was moved across a solid crystal to detect a radio signal. Seealso semiconductor.
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Instrument for recording physiological phenomena (including blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration) of a human subject as he or she answers questions asked by an operator. These data (recorded as graphs) are used as the basis for judging whether the subject is lying. The phenomena usually chosen for recording are those not easily controlled voluntarily. The types of questions asked, their wording, and the mode of presentation have a tremendous effect on the results and their reliability. Used in police interrogation and investigation since 1924, the lie detector is still controversial among psychologists and not always accepted as evidence in courts.
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