Electrical engineering is mainly concerned with the movement of energy and power in electrical form, and its generation and consumption. Electronics is mainly concerned with the manipulation of information, which may be acquired, stored, processed or transmitted in electrical form. Both depend on the same set of physical principles, though their applications differ widely. A study of electrical or electronic engineering depends very much on these underlying principles; these form the foundation for any qualification in the field, and are the basis of this unit.
The physical principles themselves build initially from our understanding of the atom, the concept of electrical charge, electric fields, and the behaviour of the electron in different types of material. This understanding is readily applied to electric circuits of different types, and the basic circuit laws and electrical components emerge. Another set of principles is built around semiconductor devices, which become the basis of modern electronics. An introduction to semiconductor theory leads to a survey of the key electronic components, primarily different types of diodes and transistors.
Electronics is very broadly divided into analogue and digital applications. The final section of the unit introduces the fundamentals of these, using simple applications. Thus, under analogue electronics, the amplifier and its characteristics are introduced. Under digital electronics, voltages are applied as logic values, and simple circuits made from logic gates are considered.
On successful completion of this unit students will have a good and wide-ranging grasp of the underlying principles of electrical and electronic circuits and devices, and will be able to proceed with confidence to further study.
By the end of this unit students will be able to: