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Electricity for Kids

Digital Electronics

Digital electronics are electric circuits that work on only two fixed values: "1" and "0". They use a series of 1's and 0's to store and communicate information. They can also perform math using just 1's and 0's. This is called Boolean math or Boolean logic.

How do they get just 1's and 0's?

In most digital electronic circuits when the voltage of the circuit is positive and near the supply voltage it represents a 1. This is also called HIGH. When the voltage is close to the ground level (or zero), it represents a 0, which is also sometimes called LOW. With these two signals most anything can be stored and communicated including the picture on the screen you're looking at right now. But it takes a LOT of these signals running VERY fast!

What are electronic gates?

In digital electronics, gates are electrical functions that are performed on 1's and 0's. Sort of like simple math. One example of this is the AND gate. There are two inputs and one output to an AND gate. The output is only a 1 if both inputs are a 1. If either input is a 0, the output is a 0. An even simpler gate is the Inverter. In this case there is one input and one output. If a 1 is input, then a 0 is output. If a 0 is input then a 1 is output. It just Inverts the signal.

A logic AND gate with two inputs and one output

What are electronic chips?

Electronic chips are a whole bunch of electronic gates put into one small area. These chips can have millions and millions of gates in order to do all sorts of complex stuff. There are chips that do graphics for your computer screen, chips that have lots of memory for saving data, and chips that run programs like your computer's CPU. To make electronic chips, special materials called semiconductors are used together with expensive precision equipment. Hundreds of engineers may spend years just to design and invent one complex electronic chip.

Integrated Circuit computer chip called a CPU

Where are they used?

Digital electronics are used throughout the world including in computers, iPods, video games, televisions, cameras, cell phones, and cars. Although digital electronics are a relatively new invention in the world, most of us could hardly imagine a world without them.

• The main semiconductor used in electronic chips is silicon. Silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth's crust after oxygen.
• A lot of the internet information is sent over fiber optics. With fiber optics light is used instead of electricity to send the information.
• The first computer chip was invented by Jack Kilby while working for the company Texas Instruments.
• In 2011 Apple became the largest buyer of computer chips in the world because of the iPhone.
Activities

Take a quick 10 question quiz on electricity.

Electricity Experiments:
Electronic Circuit - Create an electronic circuit.
Static Electricity - What is static electricity and how does it work?

More Electricity Subjects

 Circuits and Components Intro to Electricity Electric Circuits Electric Current Ohm's Law Resistors, Capacitors, and Inductors Resistors in Series and Parallel Conductors and Insulators Digital Electronics Other Electricity Electricity Basics Electronic Communications Uses of Electricity Electricity in Nature Static Electricity Magnetism Electric Motors Glossary of Electricity Terms

Science >> Physics for Kids