Electronics refers to the flow of charge (moving electrons) through nonmetal conductors (mainly semiconductors), whereas electrical refers to the flow of charge through metal conductors. For example, flow of charge through silicon, which is not a metal, would come under electronics; whereas flow of charge through copper, which is a metal, would come under electrical. This distinction started around 1908 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode. Until 1950 this field was called "Radio technics" because its principal application was the design and theory of radio transmitters and receivers.
The study of new semiconductor devices and related technology is considered a branch of physics whereas the design and construction of electronic circuits to solve practical problems comes under electronics engineering. This article focuses on engineering aspects of electronics.
An electronic component is any physical entity in an electronic system whose intention is to affect the electrons or their associated fields in a desired manner consistent with the intended function of the electronic system. Components are generally intended to be in mutual electromechanical contact, usually by being soldered to a printed circuit board (PCB), to create an electronic circuit with a particular function (for example an amplifier, radio receiver, or oscillator). Components may be packaged singly or in more complex groups as integrated circuits. Some common electronic components are capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors etc.
Most analog electronic appliances, such as radio receivers, are constructed from combinations of a few types of basic circuits. Analog circuits use a continuous range of voltage as opposed to discrete levels as in digital circuits.
The number of different analog circuits so far devised is huge, especially because a 'circuit' can be defined as anything from a single component, to systems containing thousands of components.
Analog circuits are sometimes called linear circuits although many non-linear effects are used in analog circuits such as mixers, modulators, etc. Good examples of analog circuits include vacuum tube and transistor amplifiers, operational amplifiers and oscillators.
Some analog circuitry these days may use digital or even microprocessor techniques to improve upon the basic performance of the circuit. This type of circuit is usually called "mixed signal." Sometimes it may be difficult to differentiate between analog and digital circuits as they have elements of both linear and non-linear operation. An example is the comparator which takes in a continuous range of voltage but puts out only one of two levels as in a digital circuit. Similarly, an overdriven transistor amplifier can take on the characteristics of a controlled switch having essentially two levels of output.
Highly integrated devices:
Mathematical methods are integral to the study of electronics. To become proficient in electronics it is also necessary to become proficient in the mathematics of circuit analysis.
Circuit analysis is the study of methods of solving generally linear systems for unknown variables such as the voltage at a certain node or the current though a certain branch of a network. A common analytical tool for this is the SPICE circuit simulator.
Also important to electronics is the study and understanding of electromagnetic field theory.
Today's electronics engineers have the ability to design circuits using premanufactured building blocks such as power supplies, semiconductors (such as transistors), and integrated circuits. Electronic design automation software programs include schematic capture programs and printed circuit board design programs. Popular names in the EDA software world are NI Multisim, Cadence (ORCAD), Ea"gle PCB and Schematic, Mentor (PADS PCB and LOGIC Schematic), Altium (Protel), LabCentre Electronics (Proteus) and many others."
3. All New Electronics Self Teaching Guide ISBN-13: 978-0470289617