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

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

  1. Synthfan

    Synthfan

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    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

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    Hi there
    welcome to EP :)


    no, I would still consider them ( the actual spark gap ) as a passive component
     
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  3. AnalogKid

    AnalogKid

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    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.

    ak
     
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  4. duke37

    duke37

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

    BobK

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    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.

    Bob
     
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