The field of electronic circuits is very broad and there are a very large number of other circuits besides those discussed above. For example, the differential is a key element in operational amplifier design and in biomedical data acquisition devices which must also be interfaced with specialized electronic sensors. Light-emitting and -detecting diodes allow for signals to be transmitted and received at optical frequencies. Liquid crystals are controlled by electronic circuits and are useful in digital watches, flat-panel color television displays, and electronic shutters.
The dimensions of printed circuit boards, the position of the hole centers, and the hole diameters are standardized. The boards are 10–360 mm long, 10–240 mm wide, and 0.05–3.0 mm thick (depending on the rigidity required). The spacing of the coordinate grid for marking the holes is 2.5 mm or, less frequently, 1.25 mm, and the hole diameters range from 0.2 to 3 mm. A distinction is made among one-sided, two-sided, and multilayer boards (up to 15 layers). Multilayer boards are made by using extended leads, by metallizing the walls of through holes, by molding two-sided boards in pairs, or by layer-by-layer buildup. The material most often used for printed circuit boards are metal-clad and plain Micarta and fiberglass laminates, reinforced fluorine plastic, polystyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, polyamide, polycarbonate, and radioceramics.
Besides biasing of the junctions for linear operation, any state of the two junctions can occur. For example, both junctions might be forward-biased, in which case the transistor is said to be in saturation and acts nearly as a short circuit between E-C, while if the junctions are simultaneously back-biased the transistor is said to be cut off and acts as an open circuit between all terminals. The transistor can be controlled between saturation and cutoff to make it act as an electronically controlled switch. This mode of operation is especially useful for binary arithmetic, as used by almost all digital computers, where 0 and 1 logic levels are represented by the saturation and cutoff transistor states.
Since active devices usually supply signal energy to an electronic circuit, and since energy can only be transformed and not created, a source of energy is needed when active devices are present. This energy is usually obtained from batteries or through rectification of sinusoidal voltages supplied by power companies. When inserted into an electronic circuit, such a source of energy fixes the quiescent operation of the circuit; that is, it allows the circuit to be biased to a given operating point with no signal applied, so that when a signal is present it will be processed properly. To be useful, an electronic circuit produces one or more outputs; often inputs are applied to produce the outputs. These inputs and outputs are called the signals and, consequently, generally differ from the bias quantities, though often it is hard to separate signal and bias variables. Biasing of electronic circuits is an important, non- trivial, and often overlooked aspect of their operation.