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electronics & telecom > Electronic components: active & passive

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Electronic Components: Active & Passive

The two basic types of electronic components are passive and active. Active components require extra power to function; passive do not. For example, a passive component is like a "keyed" ignition switch in a car; an active component is like a remote car starter that needs a second, smaller battery to work. Most electronic circuits contain both active and passive components and power supplies are designed accordingly.

Most active components are semiconductors that operate by "taking" a small amount of power from the circuit power source. Within a semiconductor, a barrier divides positively- and negatively-charged particles. That barrier has to be "broken" for charged particles, or electricity, to flow. A small amount of voltage, called a "bias" voltage, is needed to break the barrier and turn the semiconductor "on."

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