Electronics deals with electrical circuits that involve active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies. The nonlinear behaviour of active components and their ability to control electron flows makes amplification of weak signals possible and electronics is widely used in information processing, telecommunications, and signal processing. The ability of electronic devices to act as switches makes digital information processing possible. Interconnection technologies such as circuit boards, electronics packaging technology, and other varied forms of communication infrastructure complete circuit functionality and transform the mixed components into a regular working system.
Electronics is distinct from electrical and electro-mechanical science and technology, which deal with the generation, distribution, switching, storage, and conversion of electrical energy to and from other energy forms using wires, motors, generators, batteries, switches, relays, transformers, resistors, and other passive components. This distinction started around 1906 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode, which made electrical amplification of weak radio signals and audio signals possible with a non-mechanical device. Until 1950 this field was called “radio technology” because its principal application was the design and theory of radio transmitters, receivers, and vacuum tubes.
Today, most electronic devices use semiconductor components to perform electron control. The study of semiconductor devices and related technology is considered a branch of solid state physics, whereas the design and construction of electronic circuits to solve practical problems come under electronics engineering. This article focuses on engineering aspects of electronics.