If you’ve never heard of a transistor before, you might be surprised to learn that they’re found in many of the devices you use in your everyday life. Whether you’re a budding electrician or you’re just tinkering with a few devices for an independent project, it’s always worth learning about transistors and their applications.
What are transistors and how do they work?
A transistor is a type of miniature semiconductor used to regulate and control electrical signals and power. They typically consist of three layers, otherwise known as terminals, which can each hold a current.
When transistors work as an amplifier, they can convert a small input current into a much larger output current. This makes them suitable for use in microphones, but transistors can also be used to control the flow and rate of signals through an electronic device or circuit. The two main types include PNP transistors and NPN transistors.
What are the everyday uses of transistors?
Whether you’re a professional singer or you just use a headset for work calls, microphones are an integral feature in so many different daily routines. Not all microphones have transistors, but they’re used in active ribbon and non-tube condenser microphones to amplify the internal electronic signal.
When microphones are designed with transistors, they apply electrical signal to the internal circuitry of the microphone. The subsequent voltage then controls the flow of electrical signal, with the role of the transistor primarily being to convert resistance and ensure stronger output signals.
From turning the light on in the morning to the moment you get home from work, it’s likely you come in to contact with far more switches every day than you even realise. Each transistor has four regions of operation, and each one determines the maximum current and voltage levels.
When a transistor operates as a switch, it produces little to no noise and offers a relatively high rate of switching operation. Transistors also have no mechanical components, so failure due to wear and tear is much less likely. When they’re used as switches, transistors are lightweight, affordable, and low-maintenance.
Perhaps surprisingly, transistors started to appear in hearing aid models at least 50 years ago. Thanks to their compact size and the fact that they only need one battery, they make an excellent choice for hearing aids. These lifechanging devices allow people to enhance their hearing, giving back confidence and making day-to-day life much more straightforward.
Transistors are used in hearing aids because they all rely on tiny internal microphones. These detect sound and then turn it into currents, which the transistor uses to power an internal speaker that amplifies the sound to the wearer.
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