A digital circuit requires a power supply to provide a constant and stable source of electric power to all devices. As discussed above, electric power is derived from the basic electrical forces that charged particles (e.g., protons and electrons) exert on one another – namely, electrons are repelled by other electrons, and attracted to more electrically positive areas where there are relatively fewer electrons. The vast majority of charged particles are found in ordinary matter bound in electrically neutral atomic structures (that is, most particles are found in structures that have an equal number of positive and negative particles). Some electrically neutral conducting materials (like metals) contain electrons that are not so tightly bound to their host atoms. If a voltage source is applied to these materials, the lightly bound electrons will move away from the concentrated source of electrons on the negative side of the supply towards the electrically positive side of the supply. A “power supply” in a digital circuit provides a local, contained imbalance of electrons that provides a voltage source that can do useful work, such as transmitting information through a conductor from one device to another. A digital circuit allows a controlled flow of electrons from of the negative to positive side of the power supply, but only via the paths designed into the circuit. As electrons flow to and from the devices in a given circuit, they can change device properties in useful ways.
As discussed earlier, a digital circuit represents and manipulates information encoded as electric signals that can assume one of two voltages – logic-high voltage (or Vdd) and logic-low voltage (or GND). A digital circuit requires a power supply that can produce these two voltages, and these same supply voltages are also used to encode information in the form of two-state, or binary signals. Thus,if a given circuit node is at Vdd, then that signal is said to carry a logic ‘1’; if the node is at GND, then the node carries a logic ‘0’. The components in digital circuits are simple on/off switches that can pass logic ‘1’ and logic ‘0’ signals from one circuit node to another. Most typically, these switches are arranged to combine input signals to produce an output signal according to basic logic relationships. For example, one well-known logic circuit is an AND gate that combines two input signals to produce an output that is the logic AND of the inputs (i.e., if both input1 and input2 are a ‘1’, then the output is a ‘1’).
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