Silicon is typically a very poor conductor of electricity and often considered an insulator. However, a process called doping introduces a small amount of other material into the crystal structure to convert silicon from an insulator to a semiconductor. Semiconductors are essential parts of computers and other electronics.
Most metals are good electrical conductors, because the way in which their atoms connect allows electrons relatively free movement through the metal. However, silicon and other elements located near it on the periodic table of the elements form rigid crystalline structures that hold the electrons firmly in place. When scientists add a small amount of one of the neighboring elements to silicon, there is enough of a break in the rigid structure that electrons flow under certain conditions.
Diodes are the simplest of semiconductors. They allow electrons to flow, but in only one direction. One simple use of a diode is to protect an electronic device if the user inserts the batteries in the wrong direction. Transistors serve as switches and amplifiers for electrical current. Silicon chips hold thousands of transistors. Semiconductor chips greatly reduced the cost of electronics, such as computers, so they became affordable to the masses. The number of transistors on the chip allows reduction in size of computers and electronic devices.Learn More
Current-limiting fuses contain a strip of metal within them that melts and quickly opens the circuit when the current in the circuit exceeds a rated value. The opening of the fuse is a protection mechanism meant to protect either sensitive electrical components or the wiring in the circuit, depending on the type of fuse. An open fuse means something is wrong that should be corrected before the current is restored.Full Answer >
A wire ampacity table is a chart displaying the electrical amp rating carried by specific wire types and gauge sizes. Amperage is a measure of the electrical current flowing through a circuit, which is measured in amps. Proper wire size must meet specific amp limits.Full Answer >
In physics, "work" is when a force applied to an object moves the object in the same direction as the force. If someone pushes against a wall, no work is done on the wall because it does not move. However, depressing a letter on a computer keyboard requires work.Full Answer >
Hydroelectric energy is generated by water flowing over a turbine, which turns an electric generator and creates current. The force that moves the turbine comes from the flowing or falling water, and the turbine continues to generate electricity as long as it remains in motion.Full Answer >