Electronic Part Terms Glossary

The world of electronics involves a lot of terms that may not be familiar to everyone looking for electric components. It is important to understand what certain terms mean so that you know you are getting the parts you need. Here is a brief glossary of common terms and their definitions.

Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker is an electrical switch that automatically interrupts current flow in case of an overload or short circuit.


A contactor is an electrically controlled switch that turns an electrical circuit on and off.


A diode is an electrical component that conducts an electrical flow in one direction. The component has high resistance on one side and low resistance on the other, making electricity flow in the direction of lowest resistance.


An encoder is a component that converts a set of signals into a code


A fan is a bladed machine used to create air flow. These devices help cool electronic components which can become overheated.


GTO stands for gate turn-off thyristor. It is a special type of thyristor that allows the switch to be turned off and on via the gate signal.


IGBT stands for insulated-gate bipolar transistor. An IGBT is a three-terminal semiconductor device used as an electronic switch.

Conductor - A conductor is a metallic material allowing the flow of charge (electrical current) in one or more directions.

Integrated circuits (ICs) - Integrated circuits are electronic components of silicon chips made of semiconductor material and contain many circuits, gates, transistors and other electronic components working together towards a common function in microprocessors, audio and video equipment, vehicles and more.

Thyristors - Thyristors are unidirectional, four-layered, three-junction semiconductor switching devices with three terminals - anode, cathode, and gate which alternates P and N type materials.


An inverter is a device or circuit which changes a current flow from direct (DC) to alternating (AC).


IPM stands for integrated power module or intelligent power module. An IPM processes power according to how it's programmed. A MOSFET power module is one example of an IPM.

Mosfet Power Modules

MOSFET stands for metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistor. MOSFET power modules offer low current and low withstanding voltage to power devices that need high-speed switching as well as voltage driving with low loss.


PIM stands for passive intermodulation. PIM happens when two signals in a wireless system mix together, creating interference on the band.


PLC stands for programmable logic controller. It is a dedicated controller used in manufacturing processes to control how machinery works in different circumstances.

Rectifier Bridge

A rectifier bridge is a circuit configuration of four or more diodes used for converting alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC).


A relay is a switch that can open and close circuits either electronically or electromechanically.


SCR stands for silicon-controlled rectifier. Its common name is thyristor.


A sensor is a device which detects a defined change in the environment and then sends information to other devices. The sensor may react to changes in a number of environmental changes including heat, pressure, moisture, temperature, and light.


A switch is a device that can make or break an electrical circuit. When the device is in one position, the current flows. When the device is moved to another position, the current is broken.


A thyristor is a semiconductor device which allows the flow of current between two electrodes when triggered by a signal sent from a third electrode.

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