Many different types of components and devices can be found in modern circuits, including resistors, capacitors, and inductors, semiconductor devices like diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits, transducers like microphones, light sensors and motions sensors, actuators like motors and solenoids, and various other devices like heating and lighting elements. Devices in a circuit are connected to one another by means of electrical conductors, or wires. These wires can move electric currents between various points in a circuit. Once a wire connects two or more devices, the wire and all attached device connectors are said to form a single circuit node or net. Any electrical activity on a given net is communicated to all devices attached to the net. Certain nets provide electric power to devices, and other nets carry information between devices. Nets that carry information are called signals, and signals transport information encoded as voltage levels around a circuit. Signal nets typically use smaller conductors, and transport very small currents. Nets that carry power are called supply rails (or just supplies) and supply rails transport electric power around a circuit. Power nets typically use much larger conductors that signal nets, because they must transport larger currents.
Impedance essentially can be viewed as frequency-dependent resistance. While resistance of a circuit is the instantaneous ratio between voltage and current, impedance of a circuit is the ratio between voltage and current for steady-state sinusoidal signals, which can vary with of frequency. As the later parts of this section will show, the voltage and current caused by applying a steady-state sinusoidal signal to any combination of resistors, capacitors, and inductors, are related by a constant factor and a phase shift. Therefore, impedance can be expressed by a complex constant using an extended version Ohm’s law.
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