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General Classification (Picture and Classification text courtesy of Wikipedia) :

A component may be classified as passive or active. The strict physics definition treats passive components as ones that cannot supply energy themselves, whereas a battery would be seen as an active component since it truly acts as a source of energy.

  • Passive components do not introduce net energy into the circuit they are connected to. They also cannot rely on a source of power except for what is available from the (AC) circuit they are connected to. As a consequence they are unable to amplify (increase the power of a signal), although they may well increase a voltage or current such as is done by a transformer or resonant circuit. Among passive components are familiar two-terminal components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, and most sorts of diodes.
  • Active components rely on a source of energy (usually from the DC circuit, which we have chosen to ignore) and are usually able to inject power into a circuit although this is not part of the definition[1]. This includes amplifying components such as transistors, triode vacuum tubes (valves), and tunnel diodes.

Passive components can be further divided into lossless and lossy components:

  • Lossless components do not have a net power flow into or out of the component. This would include ideal capacitors, inductors, transformers, and the (theoretical) gyrator.
  • Lossy or dissipative components do not have that property and generally absorb power from the external circuit over time. The prototypical example is the resistor. In practice all non-ideal passive components are at least a little lossy, but these are typically modeled in circuit analysis as consisting of an ideal lossless component with an attached resistor to account for the loss.

This is an excellent treatise on understanding datasheets for logic ICs. If you are familiar with the general presentation of most IC datasheets, you will recall that there are major sections. In this document, every term used in the specification tables is defined so the reader will have a complete grasp of what the specification of concern is calling out. Texas Instruments did a beautiful job with this paper and I believe you will find it universally applicable as many of the spec call-outs are applied to non-logic parts as well. This is a paper worth more than a casual browse so you will also find it under both Learning Center and Core Disciplines. Kudos to the TI team of Stephen M. Nolan and Jose M. Soltero.

Download ti-datasheet-guide.pdf

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