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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:   (doi:10.13031/2013.17776) in Introduction to Solid-State Electronics. Chapter 16 in Fundamentals of Electricity for Agriculture, 3rd edition, 399-416. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASAE. . Copyright 2004 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Mich.
Authors:   Gustafson, Robert J., and Mark T. Morgan
Keywords:   Semiconductor Structure, Semiconductor Diodes, Example Diode Applications, Diode Testing, Transistors, Example Transistor Applications, Transistor Testing and Conventions, Thyristors, Integrated Circuits

Solid-state electronics are playing an increasingly important role in agriculture and in our general lives. Devices with solid-state components are used for controls, communication equipment, indicators, and in a wide variety of other applications. Solidstate electronics have allowed the development of many useful tools for agriculture such as tractor, sprayer, combine, and planter monitors, motor and lighting controls, calculators and computers.

The basic function of the solid-state devices is to control or regulate the flow of electrical current by the use of semiconductor materials. Development of semiconductors was initiated by the invention of the transistor in 1948. Starting with early application to radios and hearing aids, transistors have completely revolutionized the electronics industry. They represented a major improvement in electronic components compared to the earlier vacuum tubes, although they perform basically the same tasks. Transistors have many advantages over vacuum tubes:

    They require no heater current, therefore the power requirements are much smaller,
  • They are very small and light,
  • They are mechanically sturdy and long lasting,
  • They can operate at low voltages yet carry relatively high currents, and
  • They are thousands of times more reliable.

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