Connect with us

Electric arcs and spark gaps: Are they active or passive devices?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Synthfan, Nov 6, 2015.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Synthfan


    Nov 6, 2015
    Hi, guys, quick question for the more technically-minded among you. As a novice, being able to identify certain components as active or passive still eludes me. I know that tubes and semiconductors are considered active because they apparently "use electricity to control electricity" or because they require a power supply to operate. I know that resistors, capacitors, and inductors are considered passive.

    So what about electric arcs and spark gaps? Is the discharge component in an antique spark-gap transmitter or a Tesla coil an active component? What if an LC circuit were to be placed across an electric arc in, say, a carbon lamp -- would the arc be considered an active component in that case?

    Thanks for any help with this!
  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    Hi there
    welcome to EP :)

    no, I would still consider them ( the actual spark gap ) as a passive component
    Synthfan and (*steve*) like this.
  3. AnalogKid


    Jun 10, 2015
    Passive. An active device uses energy from one source to control energy from another source. Not necessarily amplify it, although it almost always is the case that a low energy control signal can activate a solid stage switch controlling a much higher energy level, and this could be considered a form of non-linear amplification.

    For a truly ambiguous device, look up a tunnel diode.

    Tha fios agaibh and Synthfan like this.
  4. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    And an arc will generate a negative dynamic resistance, like a tunnel diode.:)
  5. BobK


    Jan 5, 2010
    How about a normal diode, active or passive?

    I would call the spark gap active for the same reason I would call the tunnel diode active, it exhibits hysteretic behavior, meaning how it acts depends on the past.

Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day