Every electronic appliance we use in our day-to-day life, such as mobile phones, laptops, refrigerators, computers, televisions, and all other electrical and electronic devices are manufactured with some simple or complex circuits.

·       Integrated circuits (ICs) are a keystone of modern electronics. They are the heart and brains of most circuits.

·       An IC is a collection of electronic components resistors, transistors, capacitors etc. all stuffed into a tiny chip, and connected together to achieve a common goal. They come in all sorts of flavours: single-circuit logic gates, op amps, 555 timers, voltage regulators, motor controllers, microcontrollers, microprocessors.

·       The circuits can be classified into different types based on different criteria, such as, based on connections: series circuits and parallel circuits; based on the size and manufacturing process of the circuit: integrated circuits and discrete circuits; and, based on signal used in the circuit: analog circuits and digital circuits.

·       Integrated circuit or IC or microchip or chip is a microscopic electronic circuit array formed by the fabrication of various electrical and electronic components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, and so on) on a semiconductor materials (silicon) wafer, which can perform operations similar to the large discrete electronic circuits made of discrete electronic components.

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Discrete Circuits:It is called a discrete circuit when basic electronic components are connected through a wire or soldered on a printed circuit board (PCB). We can disconnect or replace any component as and when required. Discrete circuits can be designed to use in low voltage or high voltage, it depends on the acceptability and compatibility of components. Nowadays, most of electronics devices are mixture of discrete component and integrated circuit. Discrete components can be classified as:

a) Active Components:

·        An electric circuit element which can supply electric power to the circuit or power gain in the circuit, is known as an active element or active component.

·        Some common examples of active circuit elements are energy sources (voltage sources or current sources), generators or alternators, semiconductor devices such as transistors, photodiodes, LEDs, temperature sensors etc.

·        The active elements are the circuit component which are entirely responsible for the flow of electric current in the circuit.

b) Passive Components:

·        The circuit element which can only absorb electrical energy and dissipates it in the form of heat or stores in either magnetic field or electric field is known as passive circuit component or simply passive component.

·        Therefore, a passive component cannot provide electric power or power amplification in an electric circuit

·        Some common examples of passive circuit components are resistor, inductor, capacitor and transformer, switches etc.



Basis of Difference

Active Component

Passive Component


A circuit component which can deliver power or power gain in an electric circuit for infinite duration of time is known as active component.

A circuit element which only absorbs the power and convert it in heat or stores in electric field or magnetic field is known as passive component.


The common examples of active components are energy sources (voltage or current source), generators, semiconductor devices like transistors, solar cells, SCR, etc.

The examples of passive components are resistor, inductor, capacitor and transformer, etc.

Role in the circuit

Active components behave as source of power in the circuit.

The passive components act as load in the circuit.

Power gain

Active components can provide power gain in the electric circuit.

Passive components cannot provide power gain.


Active components receive energy in the forms such as thermal energy, chemical energy, hydraulic energy, etc. and delivers in the circuit in the form of electrical energy.

Passive components receive electrical energy and either convert it in the other forms such as heat, light, rotation, etc. or store in the magnetic field or electric field.

Control of current flow

Active components cause current flow in the circuit and control the flow of current.

The passive components cannot control the current flow in the circuit.

Slope of VI graph

The slope of VI characteristics curve (i.e. ratio of voltage to the current) of an active element is negative.

The slope of VI characteristics curve (i.e. the ratio of voltage to current) of a passive component is positive at all the points.

Quadrant of graph

For an active element, the VI curve lies in the 2nd and 4th quadrant.

The VI curve of the passive elements lies in the 1st and 3rd quadrant.

Power deliver or absorb

Active components can deliver as well as absorb the electrical power. For example, a battery, during charging absorbs electrical energy and during discharging delivers electrical energy.

A passive element can only absorb electrical power. It is not capable for deliver power.

Need of external power source to function

Some active components require an external power source to function. For example, the active components like transistors and SCR use electrical energy to function, i.e., to control the power in the circuit.

Passive components do not require any external power source to function. The passive components such as resistor, inductor, capacitor, etc. do not require any source of electricity to function, they use some other property to control the power in the circuit.


Active components have power gain more than unity, so they can amplify a signal.

For passive components, the power gain is less than unity, hence they cannot amplify a signal.

 Different Types of Integrated Circuits:

There are different types of ICs; classification of Integrated Circuits is done based on various criteria.

Based on the intended application, the IC is classified as analog integrated circuits, digital integrated circuits, and mixed integrated circuits.

a)     Digital Integrated Circuits

·        The integrated circuits that operate only at a few defined levels instead of operating overall levels of signal amplitude are called Digital ICs and these are designed by using multiple numbers of digital logic gates, multiplexers, flip flops, and other electronic components of circuits. These logic gates work with binary input data or digital input data, such as 0 (low or false or logic 0) and 1 (high or true or logic 1).

·        These digital ICs are frequently used in computers, microprocessors, digital signal processors, computer networks, and frequency counters. 

·        There are different types of digital ICs or types of digital integrated circuits, such as programmable ICs, memory chips, logic ICs, power management ICs and interface ICs.

b)     Analog Integrated Circuits

·        The integrated circuits that operate over a continuous range of signals are called Analog ICs. These are subdivided into linear Integrated Circuits (Linear ICs) and Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RF ICs). In fact, the relationship between the voltage and current may be nonlinear in some cases over a long range of the continuous analog signal.

·        The frequently used analog IC is an operational amplifier or simply called an op-amp, similar to the differential amplifier, but possesses a very high voltage gain. It consists of a very less number of transistors compared to the digital ICs

·        Linear Integrated Circuits: In an analog integrated circuit, if a linear relation among its voltage as well as current exists then it is known as linear IC. The best example of this linear IC is.741 IC, is an 8-pin DIP (Dual In-line Package) op-amp.

·        Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits: In analog IC, if a non-linear relation among its voltage & current exists then it is called radiofrequency ICs. This kind of IC is also known as a radio frequency integrated circuit.

c)     Mixed Integrated Circuits:

·        The integrated circuits that are obtained by the combination of analog and digital ICs on a single chip are called Mixed ICs. These ICs functions as Digital to Analog converters, Analog to Digital converters (D/A and A/D converters), and clock/timing ICs.

·        This mixed-signal Systems-on-a-chip is a result of advances in the integration technology, which enabled to the integration of digital, multiple analogs, and RF functions on a single chip.


General types of integrated circuits (ICs) include the following:

a.     Logic Circuits: These ICs are designed using logic gates-that work with binary input and output (0 or 1). These are mostly used as decision-makers.

b.     Comparators: The comparator ICs are used as comparators for comparing the inputs and then to produce an output based on the ICs’ comparison.

c.      Switching ICs: Switches or Switching ICs are designed by using the transistors and are used for performing the switching operations.

d.     Audio Amplifiers: The audio amplifiers are one of the many types of ICs, which are used for the amplification of the audio. These are generally used in audio speakers, television circuits, and so on. 

e.     CMOS Integrated Circuit: CMOS integrated circuits are extremely used in different applications as compared with FETs because of their capabilities like lower threshold voltage, low-power consumption. A CMOS IC includes P-MOS & N-MOS devices which are fabricated jointly on a similar chip.

f.       Voltage Regulator ICs: This kind of integrated circuit provides a stable DC output despite the changes within DC input. The commonly used type regulators are LM309, uA723, LM105 & 78XX ICs.

g.     Operational Amplifiers: The operational amplifiers are frequently used ICs, similar to the audio amplifiers which are used for the audio amplification. These op-amps are used for amplification purposes, and these ICs work similarly to the transistors amplifier circuits.

h.     Timer ICs: Timers are special-purpose integrated circuits used for the purpose of counting and to keep a track of time in intended applications.



·        A wafer is a piece of silicon (one of the most abundant semiconductors available worldwide) or other semiconductor material, designed in the form of a very thin disc. Wafers are used to create electronic integrated circuits (ICs) and silicon-based photovoltaic cells.

·        In these designs, the wafer serves as the substrate. Engineers use processes such as doping, implantation and etching to complete the build of the integrated circuit.

·        A chip– is an integrated circuit that has hundreds of millions of transistors on the small form factor chip of which size depends on the type of integrated circuit.

·        A wafer is a thin slice of material usually in a round shape with a mirror-like finish surface for semiconductor device fabrication.

·        Silicon is the essential component in the manufacturing of these semiconductor devices which makes a part of the bigger electronic circuit.

Advantages of ICs:

·        The entire physical size of IC is extremely small than that of discrete circuit.

·        The weight of an IC is very less as compared entire discrete circuits.

·        It’s more reliable.

·        Because of their smaller size it has lower power consumption.

·        It can easily replace but it can hardly repair, in case of failure.

·        Because of an absence of parasitic and capacitance effect it has increased operating speed.

·        Temperature differences between components of a circuit are small.

·        It has suitable for small signal operation.

·        The reduction in power consumption is achieved due to extremely small size of IC.

Disadvantages of ICs:

·        Coils or indicators cannot be fabricated.

·        It can be handling only limited amount of power.

·        High grade P-N-P assembly is not possible.

·        It is difficult to be achieved low temperature coefficient.

·        The power dissipation is limited to 10 watts.

·        Low noise and high voltage operation are not easily obtained.

·    Inductors and transformers are needed connecting to exterior to the semiconductor chip as it is not possible to fabricate inductor and transformers on the semiconductor chip surface.

·        Inductors cannot be fabricated directly.

·        Low noise and high voltage operation are not easily obtained.

Scale Of Integration:

·        SSI – Small Scale Integration consists of only a few transistors (tens of transistors on a chip), these ICs played a critical role in early aerospace projects.

·        MSI-Medium Scale Integration consists of some hundreds of transistors on the IC chip developed in the 1960s and achieved better economy and advantages compared to the SSI ICs.

·        LSI-Large-scale Integration consists of thousands of transistors on the chip with almost the same economy as medium-scale integration ICs. 

·        VLSI-Very Large-Scale Integration consists of transistors from 100 to 10,000 in number.

·        SLSI- Very Large-scale Integration consists of transistors from 10,000 to 100,000 in numbers.

·        ULSI- Ultra Large-Scale Integration consists of more than 1 million transistors.

Classification of Integrated Circuits based on Classes:

Integrated circuits are available in three classes based on the techniques used while manufacturing them.

  • Thin and thick film ICs
  • Monolithic ICs
  • Hybrid or multichip ICs

 Thin and thick film ICs:

·        In these types of integrated circuits, passive components like capacitors and resistors are used however the transistors and diodes are connected like separate components to design a circuit.

·        By changing the thickness of films on the materials will have different resistivity and manufacturing of passive electronic components can be done.

Monolithic ICs:

·        In this kind of integrated circuits, the interconnections of the active, the passive, and discrete components on a silicon chip can be formed. As the name suggests, it is derived from the Greek word like mono is nothing but single whereas Lithos means stone.

·        The ICs which are manufactured commercially are used like voltage regulators, amplifiers, computer circuits, and AM receivers. However, the insulation among the monolithic IC components is poor but is also have less power rating.

Hybrid or Multi-Chip ICs:

·        As the name suggests, multi means above one individual chip which is interconnected. The active components like diodes or diffused transistors include these ICs whereas the passive components are the diffused capacitors or resistors on a single chip.

  Comparison between Integrated Circuits & Discrete Circuits:

Integrated Circuits

Discrete Circuits

Chip level design

Board level design

All in single chip

All are separate discrete components

Requires less space due to smaller size

Requires more space

Cheaper due to mass manufacture

Costlier due to individual components

More reliable due to specific construction

Less reliable

Impossible to modify parameters

Possible to modify parameters

Manufactured for specific applications having specific circuits

Can be used for any circuit

If any part of the IC is defective, the entire IC has to be replaced

Only particular defective component requires replacement

 Linear & Digital ICs:

Linear ICs

Digital ICs

Linear ICs (Linear Integrated Circuits) are called as analog IC.

Digital ICs (Digital Integrated Circuits) are also called as nonlinear IC.

Linear integrated circuits inputs and outputs can take on a continuous range of values and the outputs are generally proportional to the inputs.

Digitals ICs contain circuits whose inputs and outputs voltage are limited to two possible levels low or high.

It is used in aircraft, space, vehicles, radars, PLL, Oscilloscopes etc.

It is used in microprocessor, computers, clocks, digital watches, calculator etc.

The design requirements are more drastic as compared to digital ICs.

The design requirement as less drastic as compare to linear ICs.

It is commercially available as operational amplifiers, voltage multipliers, voltage comparator, regulators, microwave amplifiers Etc.

Its commercially available as microprocessor chips, memory chips, analog to digital chips, digitals to analog chips, logic gates, flip flops, counters, registers etc.

It consists of a very smaller number of transistors as compared to digital ICs.

It consists of a greater number of transistors as compared to linear ICs.

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