circuitsAll electrical appliances function based on the manipulation of electric circuits, which allow them to be powered by electricity to varying degrees and turn on and off based on whatever controls you program onto the device. Have you ever wondered exactly how this happens? If so, this article is for you:

When you slip a battery into your electronic gadget, you’re allowing for negatively charged electrons to have a path to travel to the positive portion of the battery. They don’t simply flood from one side of the battery to another; they’re forced to take a roundabout path to the other side and, along the way, they manage to power your device.

Any time you’re using a battery, fuel cell, or solar cell to rev up a device, three fundamental principles are going to be in play. The source of the electricity you’re using is going to need to have two terminals, one of which is positive and the other is negative. Additionally, the source of the electricity will need to be set up in such a way that it wants to push electrons out of its negative terminal at a particular voltage (pressure by which the electrons are pushed). To put this in perspective, a double A battery generally wants to push electrons out at a rate of 1.5 volts. Finally, the electrons are going to have to flow from the negative terminal to the positive terminal via a conductor, likely a copper wire.

Given all of this new information, you can now better understand the definition of a circuit, which is a path that goes from a positive to a negative terminal in such a way that electrons can flow through the wire.

So long as whatever you want to have move around is attached to the circuit somewhere in the middle, the movement of electrons (electricity) will have to pass through whatever hoops you’ve set for it in order to reach the end of the circuit. That’s how you manage to spin a shaft (for a motor, like the motor in our blender) or generate heat (like for your toaster) or whatever the heck you want to do.

details of the electronic circuit tracks on a printed circuit board, once of 20 images on our "electronik" design pack

Electricity is generally way more complicated than these rudimentary explanations, but know that regardless of what you’re doing, if you’re using electricity to power something, you’re going to have a source of electricity, a wire to the load (or thing you want to power) and a wire back to the other side of the source of electricity. Electrons always move from the source, through the load, and back to the source.

So just to go over it all again, know that moving electrons have energy. As they move from one point to another, they can do work along the way. This work can involve creating heat, which in turn can create light. They can also do the work of creating a magnetic field, which can then interact with other magnets to create motion. Motors, by the way, are basically just working generators in reverse.