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Transistors – Components

Transistors are semiconductor devices that are used to amplify or switch electronic signals and electrical power in circuits. They are composed of semiconductor material usually with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. When a voltage or current is applied to one pair of their terminals, you can control the current through another pair of terminals. This enables you to control a higher power output with a lower power input signal from something such as a switch or microcontroller.

Base, Collector, Emitter
Bipolar Transistor Symbols - NPN - PNP

Do you see the arrow on the emitter? An easy way to remember which round:

  • NPN – Not Pointing iN
  • PNP – Pointing iN

Bipolar Transistors

A transistor that uses both electrons and electron holes as charge carriers, allowing a small current injected at one of its terminals to control a much larger current flowing between two other terminals, making the device capable of amplification or switching.

Darlington Transistors

Although a Darlington configuration will often act like and look like a standard single transistor, they are actually made up of a pair of transistors.

Darlington Transistor Configuration Diagram

This multi-transistor configuration known as the Darlington pair is a circuit consisting of two bipolar transistors with the emitter of one connected to the base of the other. This means the current amplified by the first transistor is amplified further by the second! The collectors are connected together.

MOSFET Transistors

The invention of the MOSFET has revolutionised the semiconductor industry. This is due to its compact miniaturisated and mass-produced form factor. This has enabled the creation of high-density ICs such as memory chips and microprocessors. The MOSFET is considered the “workhorse” of the electronics industry.

With next to no input current a MOSFET can control a large load current.

So to summarise, they have faster-switching speeds, a reduced footprint, consume significantly less power, and allow much higher density,  compared to BJTs. MOSFETs are also cheaper and have relatively simple production.

We’ve also got some tutorials and projects in our blog that you should check out!

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