World Wars

In November of 2018 we in Great Britain remembered the centenary anniversary of the end of the first world war. This war was mainly fought in Europe on two fronts, a Western Front through France and an Eastern Front in Russia. Germany with the support of Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria had fought France, Britain, Russia, Italy (changed to this side 1915), Japan and from 1917 the United States. The war extended beyond Europe because the participants had extensive and sometimes adjacent colonies in Africa as well as a few in the far east. The war was also a war at sea.

In 2019 we remembered the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings of 1944 that led to VE (Victory Europe) day in the May of 1945. The D represented an unknown invasion Day when British, Canadian and US troops would try to set free the German occupied territories of France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Greece and Yugoslavia. That day turned out to be the 6th of June 1944. But again and even more so this war was a world war. The Japanese Empire (they did not surrender until the September of 1945) and the Italian Fascists were in full support of Nazi Germany. In opposition were Great Britain, troops from the British Empire, the Free French, the Russians from 1941, the USA (from December 1941 -after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour) and China (who had been at war with Japan from 1937).

You may have ancestors who were involved in these wars. If so you share that with lots of people throughout the world who had ancestors killed or injured or who suffered in some other way as a result of the wars. Statistics concerning the numbers of dead, missing and wounded can often be estimates that are give or take a few million. So the figures I give below are estimates only and intended to show that these wars were not just about us. They were world wars.

In the four and a quarter years of the first world war it is estimated that about 20 million died, half of which were civilians. Add to that a figure of over 20 million wounded and we get a feel for the human loss and suffering of this war.

The table reveals that whilst Russia had at 1.8 million the highest deaths of military personnel, the civilian deaths to Ottoman Turks were at 2.1 million even higher and Serbia’s 16.1% loss of its population is indicative of the suffering there.

Not included in the table are figures for North, East and West Africans who fought and assisted in the war both in Europe and in Africa. About 71, 000 African soldiers are recorded as having died fighting in Europe but there is also an unknown loss of African labourers there. Not so much is known about the soldiers and labourers that died fighting in the European owned African colonies. One estimate says about 155,000 labourers died in the East African conflicts alone.

World war 2 lasted 6 years from 1939 to 1945. 70 or more million people, some 3% of the world pre-war population are estimated to have died as a result.

In war a country’s control and boundary may rapidly change and supply chains become chaotic. Populations can be displaced, moved or even lost to starvation. Occupying forces may take most resources and treat populations harshly and thereby contribute to significant deaths. Some occupied countries do not accept accept their new masters and so adopt guerilla tactics that likewise add to deaths.

Available stats have huge errors so my table of deaths is illustrative only and makes no reference to what must be similar numbers of injured. Each figure will have its own unique explanation that you can discover if you so wish.

The table shows the United Kingdom fared better in ww2 than in ww1. Its loss of about 400,000 is much the same as the USA loss (of which about 100,000 was in the far east). Both losses are dwarfed by the near 27 million loss of the USSR (In Belarus about 25% of the population died). It is also small in relation to losses in Poland, China, Yugoslavia, French IndoChina, the Dutch East Indies, Germany, Japan and India whose total deaths all exceeded one million.

Ww2 did not just involve the ambitions of Hitlers Nazi party and of Mussolini’s Italian Fascists. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito was already extending his empire in the East and sought to take advantage of the war by taking colonies that were in the possession of European powers and the USA . Japanese actions at Pearl Harbour on Hawaii in 1941 brought America into the war.

Wherever there were colonies they were involved. Colonies might be required to supply troops for use in the war (Germany had many Africans fighting in Europe). C olonial peoples would be required to defend the colony or fight against a neighbour colony. Many colonial peoples suffered greatly at the hands of occupiers and particularly where they were the subject of battles. There losses might have been comparatively small yet highly significant to them.

War was about human desires that lead to confrontation. Those same human desires to dictate and dominate are still there in this world today. In Europe we may be war free but the majority are still controlled by the few and Governments support that scenario. O for a world of sensible but freely given cooperation where people only take their essential needs of food and security from the environment. It would be a happier less stressed world for all.

My Rubik Interest

A work colleague of mine brought a cube into work in the days when Rubik cubes were new on the market. He and his family had given up on it and he handed it to me to play with and I did. It would come out of my desk drawer at every spare moment. I slowly realised that certain repeated movements would return some blocks to a same state whilst manipulating the positions or rotational positions of other blocks. I wrote down the patterns of movements I made and recorded the changes they made. You believe me none of that is easy when you are working with a scrambled cube and I have to confess I did on occasion take the cube apart and reassemble it in its completed state.

Eventually I put together a solution like that shown above. It is a bit long winded compared to solve methods derived by others and available on the net but it worked. It was all based on just two move sequences, that when repeated in a sequence delivered a desired change. It’s one merit is that you do not have to learn several algorithms as in the solutions I provide in the menu.

Later when my interest in 3d programming arose and in particular in the virtual reality modelling language (VRML) it was only natural that one of the 3d models I would create would be a Rubik cube. Building it was easy but then animating it was another challenge.

I am no Rubik cube speed merchant but I can scramble a cube and comfortably solve it while the TV adverts are on – using any one of the methods described – not very fast I know but my brain does not work at the pace it did.

Nuclear energies

Nuclear changes are, like chemical changes, also about energy efficiency but unlike chemical changes, where efficiencies are obtained by the rearranging of particles and the giving up of not needed photon energy, many nuclear changes involve particles changing into other particles. The energies given up by nuclear changes are much higher and can be dangerous to life forms. They are referred to as radioactivity.

Perhaps the best known radioactivity is that of carbon 14 with its 6 protons and 8 neutrons. In each and every 5,730 year period 50% of carbon 14 nuclei will have become nitrogen 14. The process is called beta decay and involves a neutron becoming a proton and an electron and the emission of an antineutrino.

The lengthy half life of carbon 14 enables scientists to establish by “carbon dating” the age of a carbon life form remnant. A lesser known isotope of carbon, carbon 11 lasts only 20 minutes. The decay involves a proton becoming a neutron and is accompanied by the loss of an electron. Carbon 12 and 13 are energy stable.

As with my view of electrons I regard neutron and proton particles as energy machines with energy desires. They don’t just respond to surround energies they pro actively seek them; they are the source of intelligence. Each particle has a role to play. The much smaller more mobile electrons draw in energies, sort them and dispatch them either away from or toward nuclear particles. They find space away from other electron energy gatherers to best perform their role. Outer electrons may be involved in photon energy flows to several nuclei. Protons are intent on collecting suitable and limited photon energies from electrons and dispersing and exchanging high volumes of low energy photons with neutrons. dispersing it to neutrons. The vibrating nature of all particles results from their controlling of the photon energy streams that are exchanged between them.

Neutrons are in no way neutral. They too have energy desires and exchange energies with protons. They can create protons and electrons from themselves and did so in the first second of the big bang. The neutrons in earthly structures need adequate but not precise numbers of protons to supply their energy needs. It is why elements exist with varying neutron numbers for the same proton content. Such variations are called isotopes and some are more stable than others.

Neutrons and protons are about 2000 times bigger than an electron. The spaces in a nucleus are near that of their particle size. However we must not think of neutrons and protons as ball like because they both have very high percentages of space within them. Though they have never been isolated quarks are said to reside in nuclear particles with gluon energies acting between them providing the short range strong nuclear force. I think it more likely that gluon energies are simply high volumes of low energy photons. The high volumes of photons would account for the strength whilst their low energies would account for the short range over which they are effective. Is it not simpler to regard photon energies as the interacting medium between all particle structures.

Elements and their isotopes are neutron and proton combinations. Usually they contain an even (as opposed to odd) number of each. Each dot in the pink area of our graph represents an isotopes proton to neutron ratio. At low total nucleons we see a neutron to proton ratio of 1:1. At higher totals nucleons the ratio is about 3 neutrons to every 2 protons.

All isotopes are not of like stability. A line down the middle of the pink area would represent preferred protons to neutron ratios. Those toward the outside of the pink area and away from that line have either too many neutrons or too many protons and are more likely to decay to stabler energy states. More stable states have more energy efficient ways of getting and satisfying their particle energy desires..

Isotopes with large proton plus neutron numbers are also a cause of instability. The nuclei of large isotopes above Bismuth (209) are most likely to radioactively spit out alpha particles of energy. I think they do so because the outer particles are starting to make it difficult for the inner nuclear particles to gather electron energies. I also suspect that alpha particles are released because many internal structures are built from alpha particles linked by additional neutrons.

Not all large nuclei spit out alpha particles Some large nuclei can undergo spontaneous fission splitting and forming isotopes of two smaller elements, possibly accompanied by the emission of a few neutrons.

If the neutron to proton ratio is too big in a nucleus the desire will be to lose neutrons and gain protons and so a neutron becomes a proton and an electron (beta radioactivity emission). Also emitted in this process is an anti neutrino particle of energy in the process.

If the neutron to proton ratio is too small in a nucleus the desire will be to lose a proton and its associated electron and gain a neutron. This can involve pulling a low shell electron into the nucleus in a process called electron capture or by emitting a positron (beta positive radiation) that then goes on to annihilate with an electron. Both processes are accompanied by the emission of a neutrino of energy.

The last form of radioactivity is termed gamma radiation. It makes no changes to the particles involved and is the issue of high photon energies. It happens when high levels of energy exchanges between excited nuclear particles subside.

The graph below shows the binding energy per nucleon. The green area is where iron and the isotopes and elements close to it are in highly desirable energy states. The fusion area in red is where smaller nuclei move to become larger nuclei but with a less energy per nucleon, energy releasing, more energy stable state. The pink area is whereas fission processes may involve the changing of larger nuclei to smaller nuclei but again making for a less energy per nucleon, energy releasing, more energy stable state.

As an example of fusion the gravitational pressures in our sun core enable hydrogen to undergo fusion to helium via heavy hydrogen (gain of neutron) and light helium (gain of proton). Tremendous amounts of energy are released from a few grams of matter. No wonder science is experimenting (Tokamac) with fusion here on earth as it offers the possibility of clean energy with no burning of carbon and hydrogen.

As an example of fission atomic substations deliberately create the unstable isotope uranium 236 from uranium 235 so as to release energy as it decays to barium and krypton. The atom bomb used a similar but uncontrolled change.

Notes and thoughts on particle energies

Kinetic energy: Most articles on nuclear particles speak of kinetic energy as if it is stored in the particle in motion. My blog on potential and kinetic energy explains that there is no energy of motion. There are kinetic energy exchanges that create relative motion and there are kinetic energy exchanges that stop relative motion and in this respect particles are no exception. If near same speed particles in a linear accelerator interact there is little energy exchange between them. If they are going in opposite directions and they interact there are much higher energy exchanges between them. Kinetic energy is about energy interactions that change motions. It is not a motion energy store

Mass energy: I see the mass energy of a particle as being the sum total of its internal energies. The mass energy of an atom or molecule is likewise the sum total of its energies which now include the internal energies being exchanged by them.

External photon energy: All separated particles and particle structures desire and emit the photon energies of surround space. The desire may bring them closer to other particles or structures and increase the photon exchanges between them. Too close and the exchanges start to exceed the particle energy needs. Really close and the interacting energy forces are into tons. Most will move away; some may find it beneficial to undergo a change of state, chemical change or nuclear change.

Anti matter and charge: The anti matter term refers to anti particles. Every particle seems to have an antiparticle. The best known is perhaps the anti electron or positron and so we will concentrate on it. The positron has exactly the same amount of energy as an electron, but it is said to be positively charged. I liken charge to the suck blow actions of my garden vacuum. In suck mode it has a concentrated air suck and disperses the air. In blow mode it pulls in surround air and concentrates it in a blow. Protons and positrons have concentrate energy gatherings. Electrons have concentrated energy deliveries. It is why positive and negative are drawn to one another. However positrons can’t control electrons like the more massive protons do and so they collide and annihilate and producing high energy photons.

Neutrinos and antineutrinos: Antineutrinos particles of energy are produced in beta negative decay and neutrinos in beta positive decays and in electron capture. Their energies are equal and about one 5oo,oooth that of an electron. Neutrinos are produced in vast numbers in the energy changes of stars and travel at near light speed with very little desire to interact with particle structures. Like neutrons they have no noticeable charge but like neutrons they will interact with other energies if the conditions are to their liking. They will pass right through us and some will pass right through the earth but the deeper the structure the more they are likely to interact. They will on encountering their antiparticle annihilate to photon energies.

Quarks, W and Z Bosons: The standard particle model has neutrons and protons each comprising of three quarks that explain charge. Such quarks are never isolated and it is wrong to think of them as major energy contributors to the energy of a nucleon. The three quarks energies are only about 1% of the energy of a nucleon. W and Z Boson energies are high short lived energies that accompany some nuclear changes. As there are considerable photon energies acting between particles we should not be surprised that changing them involves the release and re-making of photon energy interactions.

I am no particle physicist and I understand very little of particle mathematics. But, as I have said before – my blogs are about making people think and thereby improving our understanding. I hope this blog has done that.

Chemical and State Energies

How do you think of chemicals? I view them as arrangements of matter particles that are themselves composed of energy; they are arrangements of energy nodes if you like. Particle energy nodes have energy desires and consequently absorb and emit photon energies. All structures from the smallest atom to the largest object in our universe are composed of energy exchanging particle energies. The particles in structures are always seeking to get their energy needs in the most energy efficient way. If there are energy savings to be made and if the circumstances are right they will chemically combine with other structures to that end.

In chemistry we learn about electrons, protons and neutrons. We learn of their arrangements in atomic elements and in molecules, mixtures and compounds. We discover states of matter, ions, isotopes and covalent, ionic and metallic bonds. We are introduced to chemical equations and learn how to balance them in terms of atoms, volumes and masses. Rarely do we hear that atomic particles seek to satisfy their energy desires in a way that uses least energy. Yet it is the fundamental reason why chemical changes occur. Chemical change is all about particles reacting to the energies of their surround environment and forming structures that more efficiently satisfy their energy desires in that environment.

If we ask why hydrogen and oxygen exist as the molecules H2 and O2 we are told they are more stable. But what is this stability? It is the result of particles coming together in more energy efficient, energy exchanging structures. There is less total energy (node energy and photon energy) in the molecule than in the two separated atoms. Particle desires for energy are responsible for photon absorptions, emissions and their energy flows. Such desires are what hold the particles of a structure at a distance and cause them to vibrate.

Water H2O is a more energy efficient combination of hydrogen and oxygen. We use this fact in fuel cells where we harvest, as electrical energy, the energy released in combining the two. Simply bringing oxygen and hydrogen together in the right proportions in a container will not of itself create water because the molecules in the mixture are content with their energy interactions. However, if we input a spark of photon energy we agitate some of the particle energy exchanges. They re -combine as water and release photon energy which acts like the spark and converts more gas to water. We get a rapid explosive energy releasing change to water. The burning of paper, wood, domestic gas and fuel in car engines are other examples where an activation energy is required to trigger chemical changes that release heat in the process of forming more energy efficient structures of particles.

Changes in states of matter are not regarded as chemical change but they do involve the rearrangement of a single structures particles. Consider the changes involving ice, water and steam. Come the depths of winter when photon energies from the sun are much reduced, many photon energies passing between earth objects and between particles within those objects are reduced. Water particles desire more of the lower energy photons being exchanged and so energy collecting electrons move marginally closer to the energy desiring nucleons making the water slightly less fluid. We describe this by saying cold water is more viscous.

In most cases there are impurities and/or circulations in the water. They, at freezing point, are the trigger that enables the water to make a change to the less energy consuming but more rigid structure that is ice and in the process releases photon energies. Unlike most solid structures, ice is less dense than its liquid water state and will float on it. Its molecules are denser than those of water but the way they link together as ice is more space consuming.

Input photon energy to ice and it will melt back to a water structure that can better and more efficiently accommodate the increased energy. Continue adding heat and that water will eventually turn to the steam that is its vapour form. The diagram below shows energy is absorbed as ice changes to water and water to steam. The reverse processes of condensing and freezing give up energy.

The steady temperatures recorded by a thermometer at the changes of state transitions tells us the photon energies passing between the molecules are not rising so where are the input energies going? They are being absorbed internally into each molecule, where our thermometer cannot reach, and and are passing between particles as increased photon energies. Those increased photon energies have increased the distances between the particles (particularly electron to proton distances) within the molecules so as not to overload particle energy desires.

By now you should understand why the photon pressures of your hand can’t part solids like ice, can feel the pressures when they part the molecules of liquids like water and feel even less pressure when they part gases like those of water vapour and steam.

In chemistry it is not uncommon now to be introduced to reactivity diagrams like that shown for metals. The diagram enables us to say that iron added to copper sulphate will replace the copper and make for iron sulphate and that magnesium added to zinc chloride will replace the zinc and create magnesium chloride. The diagram also enables us to say that the reverse reactions will not naturally occur.

Rarely are we told why the reactivity series works. It does so because some metal particles better combine with the particles of water, acids and oxygen to make more energy efficient structures than others do. The iron displaced copper and magnesium displaced zinc in the above examples because in doing so they made for more energy efficient structures. They released photon energies in the process.

Try not to be confused by the term binding energy much used to explain the stability of a structure. The word binding makes it sound like it is energy within the structure but that is just not so. A more stable structure is a more desirable structure with less energy in it and which is more resistant to change. The badly named binding energy is the external energy we have to input into that structure to break its bonds. More energy efficient structures need greater inputs of binding energy to break their particle bonds. The reversal of many chemical reactions, like that of say a chargeable battery, requires input energies to break and rearrange particle bonds to accommodate the increased energy.

In all chemical changes the least attached outer valence electrons play a major role. That is because they are more sensitive to the energy desires of surround structure protons. If it is more energy efficient to do so they will transfer their allegiance in full or in part to surround structures and thereby form bonds with them. Of course any such changes also brings rearrangements of associated electrons and nuclei.

The groups and periods of the periodic table of elements tell us much about the distribution of the electrons around the nucleus of each element. The groups in the table tell us how many electrons are in the outer valence shell. The transition metals that occupy the large section in the middle all have, like the alkali metals, two valence electrons. As outer electrons are key particles in the formation of new energy links we should not be surprised that elements in the groups have many common behaviours.

The inert gases in group 8 are most energy stable. With the exception of helium with its full valence shell of 2 electrons, the others have full valence shells of 8 electrons. They are highly content with that state and desire no change. Where there are small numbers of electrons in an elements outer shell they are more free to wander and thereby more likely to make more efficient energy links with other structures. In elements where outer valence shells are nearly full there are opportunities for those wandering electrons to fill such shells making for more energy stable arrangements. It is for this reason that so many of the metals with 1 and 2 electrons in their outer shells are keen to bond with non metals and halogens in groups 6 and 7.

Garden solar project

I have a shed in my garden and I had the thought to put my caravan 12 volt leisure battery in the shed and use it to light the LED lights on and around it using its high energy capacity. Each LED light in its housing and strings of led lights would be connected via light twin telephone like cable to the shed. The existing solar cells and electronic circuits of the bought LED lights would be surplus to requirements.

As the project developed a wiring arrangement like that below developed.

Wiring all the LEDS to the same supply would allow for a single dark detecting circuit to switch on all the LEDS at the same time. A timer could be used to make the supply available from early afternoon and turn off the LED’s about 1 a,m, Clearly the 12 volt battery supply would be too much for the LEDS and so in addition to the 12 volt timer I bought a buck converter that would take the energy from the leisure battery at 12 volt and convert it to energy at a suitable LED supply voltage. The two items cost me about £10.

These buck converters have an adjuster on them and a read out that shows the output voltage. I used it to establish for each LED its forward voltage (the voltage at which it barely lit up). Increasing the voltage above this forward voltage will brighten a LED. Using my multimeter on its milliamp scale and in series with each LED or LED string I raised the voltage until the LED delivered a suitable output light. I recorded the current in milliamps at this stage as well as the voltage at which it did this.

The highest voltage was required by a string of 5o parallel connected LEDs. It was 2.9 volts and this became the output voltage for the “in circuit” buck converter. The other LEDS would need dropper resistors to deliver the previously established desired current. Those resistor values were calculated as follows for each LED or LED string R = (2.9 – Led Forward Voltage) / desired LED current

I joined several of the discarded solar panels in series and positioned them facing good light on the shed roof and used them to charge the leisure battery. At this mid winter time of year limited daylight meant the battery was being mildly discharged each day. The leisure battery required a recharge after about each three week period of operation which was acceptable. This discharge time extended as daylight hours extended and now in April it would appear that the solar cell input is sufficient to maintain the battery in a charged state.

Below a photograph taken by my son John of the bottom of our garden

I may as next winter approaches purchase a solar panel specifically for leisure batteries and wire it in parallel with the existing series panels. I can add switches, if need be so that battery charge arrangements are appropriate to the time of the year and the energy needs of the system. .

Garden solar light circuits

We bought a number of solar light lanterns and ornaments for our garden. They were to cheer up our garden during the winter nights. The initial display they gave was to our satisfaction but then their need for constant attention made them more trouble than the pleasure they gave.

The main problem was that the battery charge energy provided by the solar panels during the short winter daylight was considerably less than that used during the hours of darkness and they remained on long after we had retired to bed and were often on when we awoke. A supply of higher capacity NiMh batteries and a suitable battery charger eased the problem but by no means was a satisfactory answer.

As time went by almost as bad were the failures. Switch and battery connections and even solar panel connections would corrode and cause failures. Sometimes the problem was with the circuit board and on rare occasions with the LED lights themselves. I would reverse engineer the circuit as best I could and try to repair them and replaced them when I couldn’t.

Most used the solar panel as a dark detector but the odd one used a light dependent resistor. Some had back up non rechargeable batteries that I did not replace. The troublesome switches that provided on, off and sometimes flash or twinkle I did not want. Circuits varied in complexity. Some were simple like that shown above and used through the hole components; others were more complex and used smaller surface mounted devices (SMD’s) soldered onto it with chips under a circular blob of resin on the board.

Similar in action to the YX8018 chip above is a QX5252F and I used it to make my own simple circuit boards. The main difference between it and the YX8018 is the pin connections and the solar panel voltage votage which is relative to ground rather than to the battery voltage. In both cases the solar panel charges the battery via on chip diodes that prevent the battery back feeding the solar panel in hours of darkness.

In neither circuit can the 1.2 volt battery voltage alone turn on the LED light because these LED lights need forward voltages of between 1.8 and 3.0 volts to turn them on. White LEDS need more voltage than coloured LEDS. The job of the chip and the external inductor are to provide a voltage that will turn on the LED(S). The oscillator on the chip is switched on and remains on during darkness hours when the solar cell voltage is low. When on it rapidly opens and closes a switch that connects one side of the coil inductor to ground.

Those of you who have read my blog on magnetism will know a current flow through an inductor delivers photon energy into its surround space (switch closed). When the current flow tries to fall (switch open) the surround energy returns to the inductor and pressures the electrons in it to try and maintain the flow. That pressure may be regarded as a voltage pulse within the inductor and in these solar circuits it adds to the battery voltage. Because the total voltage now exceeds the forward voltage of our LED it is able to send a pulse of current through it.

The solar circuits you see above when accompanied by smoothing capacitors are often used for converting a dc source to a higher dc output. They are often referred to as a “joule thief” circuit, joule being the unit of energy. Whilst they may deliver higher pulses of output energy in no way can their output energy exceed that input from the battery or other source.

The oscillator in the QX 5252F operates at about 75 kHz, turning the switch on and off 75,000 times a second. Our eyes see no flicker. Even 24 frames a second our eyes see as continuous video.

By changing the value of the inductance you can change the current taken by the LED and hence its brightness. Higher inductor values deliver less current and lower brightness but pleasingly longer battery life. I varied the inductor used to suit the LED(S), be they white or yellow. On my board shown the resistance like inductor is 370 microHenries.

Whilst the above simple circuit proved to be less troublesome and less energy consuming than the bought circuits I was still regularly changing batteries and charging them. My next blog is about a garden solar light project that has reduced my involved time considerably.


Mosfet stands for metal oxide semi-conductor field effect transistor. MOSFETS can be n type or p type as for JFETS and each type is available in enhanced or depleted mode. The most popular is th n type enhanced mode version and we explain how this works below.

The diagram shows an n channel enhanced mode MOSFET as having four terminals. Most have just three terminals with the body connected to the source internally. The p type body material is very lightly doped whilst the n material is heavily doped.

The gate terminal is connected to a metal plate that has between it and the body a very thin layer of the insulator that is silicon oxide. The construction is such that electrons have moved across the n to p junctions to form energy stable depletion zones that are wider in the p region because of its light doping. So if we apply a voltage between drain and source no current will flow.

When we apply a voltage to the metal plate of the gate no current will flow because of the insulator but it does draw high numbers of electrons out of the plate creating many locations with desires for the energies that electrons can give them. Those desires are in the form of photon energy flows that reach through the insulator and into the source, drain and body materials encouraging electrons to move toward those energy desires.

The body p material also desires electrons and the source and drain have lots of them. The voltage produced desire at the gate means more electrons move from source and drain into the p material beneath the silicon oxide layer creating a widening and extending depletion area there. At what is termed the threshold gate voltage a depletion zone exists between drain and source and much of it has electrons in excess of its needs. Any further increase in gate voltage and the p material depletion zone has an excess of electrons throughout its length and as such is an effective conductor that will allow current to pass from drain to source.

As with the JFET, the drain to source current draws electrons out of the drain and pushes them into the source and so shapes the p depletion zones with their electron excesses as per the diagram. As for the JFET a saturation current results .

Though not as popular as enhanced mode MOSFETS, both p and n versions are available in depletion mode types. Such devices are doped at the time of manufacture so that a current flow channel exists between drain and source. Circuit symbols for the enhanced type are as in the diagram with a note explaining how they are changed to indicate a depletion mode mosfet.

The manufactured doping of the depletion mode type means that even with no voltage between gate and source a current will flow between drain and source if a voltage is applied between them. An increasing positive voltage on the gate will increases this current flow whilst a negative voltage on the gate will diminish that current and if sufficiently negative stop such flow.

Junction field effect transistors

As with bipolar junction transistors field effect transistors come in two types called n channel and p channel. The emitter, base and collector terms are replaced by source, gate and drain. The channel allows electron movements through it unhindered by any pn junction. For reasons that I will explain below the channel is of lightly doped material whilst the gate material is heavily doped.

An n channel JFET is illustrated below. In its no voltage state natural depletion zones exist at the pn junctions. They have been created by the movement of lightly bound electrons (they are not free as many describe) from n material into electron desiring locations in the p material. The light doping of the n channel material mens the width of the more energy stable depletion zone created is mainly resident in the n material.

If we now apply a voltage supply twixt gate and source with source positive we push electrons into the p material and pull electrons out of the n material. In doing so we extend the depletion zones in those materials but again, and for reasons explained above, the extensions are much into the n channel.

The more negative we make the gate relative to the source the more we increase the depletion zone and the narrower the channel becomes. It is important to note that these electron moves that build the depletion zone do not constitute a noticeable current flow. At a certain level of negative voltage on the gate the depletion zone will pinch off the channel and close it to any would be current flow. This voltage is called the “pinch off” voltage.

If we apply a voltage between drain and source with the channel open current flows along the channel whose value is largely determined by how open the channel is. Remember resistance to flow increases as area of flow increases. It means the device gate voltage controls the channel current.

The voltage between drain and source also influences depletion zone shape. The pulling of electrons into the drain is decreasing the lightly bound electron n channel density and the pushing of electrons into the source is increasing that density. The net effect is to cause the tapering of the depletion zone as in the above diagram.

The electrical symbols used for FET’s clearly distinguish them from bipolar junction transistors. They use less power and dissipate less heat than BJT’s and can be made more compact than them. As such their technology is much used in integrated circuits.

The p channel FET behavior is much the same. It requires different voltage connections and its channel is less conductive than that of a n channel FET.

Whilst in an n channel FET lightly bound electron movements happen because they come under pressure from electrons in motion in a p channel FET the loosely bound electrons have to be drawn into the more fixed structure points that are energy desiring holes. In so doing they vacate a point in space that has an energy desire and which can draw in other electrons. Others describe this as a movement of positive holes. I prefer to think in terms of energy desires and electron motions.

As with n channel FETS a sufficiently high but now positive gate voltage will produce a depletion zone that closes the channel and also as with n channel FETS the level of the current flow between drain and source adds to the depletion zone width.

It is now not unreasonable to ask if, when the gate voltage is less than “pinch off”, the drain current level can deliver a “pinch off” condition? The answer is no because the mere act of closing the channel diminishes the current flowing through it and so reduces the pressure to close the channel. The result is that this type of transistor has a controlled saturation current that varies with gate voltage.

The performance diagram above shows how for each gate to source voltage there is limited linear relationship between drain voltage and current. Any drain to source voltage increase after that causes a channel closure and increase resistance so as to hold the current at a saturation level. The performance diagram also shows how the transistor will fail and breakdown if the drain voltage continues to increase.

Bipolar junction transistors

Such transistors are much used as signal amplifiers, in oscillators and for switching. The bipolar part of the name was assigned to this class of transistor because it was seen as involving both the movement of electron charges and of electron holes. Junction was a reference to the junctions it has between n and p type materials and the word transistor was derived from its ability to change or transfer resistance. Bipolar junction transistors come in two types namely npn and pnp.

A diagram representative of an n p n transistor is shown right. The base material is essentially very thin but still keeping the collector and emitter separate. The transistor does not work as described below if the base is thick.

At the junctions depletion zones are created. As with diodes n material electrons move into p material holes to form the more energy stable depletion zones. The moves are particularly into the least doped p material, more so at its emitter junction because of its heavy doping and therefore bigger desire to give up electrons.

It is interesting to note that the more energy stable depletion zones have electron numbers greater than proton numbers whilst the n and p zones with equal electrons and protons are less stable. If we have been led to think that charge neutrality is a most desired state and ionised states desire change the above reveals the opposite can be true.

When we connect a supply voltage between collector and emitter with collector positive surplus electrons at the battery negative push into and apply pressure on the unwanted electrons in the emitter that seeking a location in which to better perform their role. They have no where to go because the base to emitter depletion zone wants to keep its energy stable state and presents a high resistance to such pressures. The electron shortage at the battery positive terminal pulls electrons from the collector but no circuit current flows because of the depletion zone resistance.

Now let us add a second voltage between base and emitter with base positive. This voltage is intent on pulling electrons out of the base and adds to emitter pressures. The thin depletion zone between these pressures releases electrons to the base because it can maintain its energy stability by getting electrons from the emitter and that is what it does.

The pressures in the highly doped emitter are large. For every electron leaving the base and heading for its supply there are about 100 emitter electrons trying to occupy its vacated location (hole). The inrush of electrons into the base put pressure on collector electrons that are also being subjected to the desires created by the supply terminal electron shortages. A continuous current flows.

Hopefully you can see why a junction transistor is regarded as a current amplifier. It is because the many electrons that reach the collector from the emitter are a multiple of the numbers of electrons going from emitter to base.

A diagram representative of an p n p transistor is shown right. It has a pnp sandwich instead of an npn sandwich; the doping levels and sizes of emitter, collector and base are much as before and depletion zones are created as for the npn. In the standard explanation the emitter is seen as emitting electron desiring holes.

A supply voltage between emitter and collector with emitter positive substantially adds to the pressures on the emitter to release electrons to the supply. The pressure brings limited change because the adjacent energy stable depletion zone highly resists change. At the negative terminal electron supply pressures satisfy the p material desires but I repeat no current flows.

Now if we add a voltage between base and emitter with base negative the thin base emitter depletion zone becomes subjected to pressures on both sides and it releases some electrons to the emitter which is already under serious pressure to release electrons to the supply.

The few base to emitter electron movements are sufficient to trigger a multiplicity of emitter electron releases to the supply line and the desires for electrons such releases create is met by the negative supply pressures pushing electrons into the collector.

In both npn and pnp transistors small electron movements flow between base and emitter enable and control much larger electron movements between emitter and collector. The action of an npn transistor is more to do with pressures between electrons whereas that of pnp transistors is more to do with structure energy desires for electrons. Both have their uses but npn’s are for this reason generally more responsive.

Electronics introduction

During the 19th century many experiments showed how electrical properties varied with material structures. But not until the 1930’s and 40’s did scientists start to see the rectification and amplification possibilities of semi conductor materials. Now millions of transistors reside on a computer processor and as many as 400 million transistors can be present on a thumbnail size integrated circuit chip.

The usual explanations of how semi conductors work involve moving charge carriers of negative electrons and positive holes. They are an extension of the idea that unlike charges attract whilst like charges repel. My explanations see all particles and thereby all particle structures as having energy desires. Structures desire the most energy efficient, stable state for their particles but they do not act in isolation and are influenced by changes in neighbor structures. Semi conductor technology is all about such energy desires and energy pressures for change.

Science explains how photon energies from sun particles will travel through space to earth; it explains how visible light photons from particles in a blade of grass will enable your eye and brain particles to collect and interpret its shape and colour. But for some reason it does not see photons of energy as passing across the relatively vast spaces between the particles of atoms and structures of atoms.

I view particles as energy machines; they move toward a photon source to absorb energy and move away from that source when their energy need is satisfied. Such a view explains why all particles vibrate and why they hold one another at a distance in structures. Particle structures like atoms and molecules will naturally bind to other structures but only if by combining they become more energy efficient.

In structures mobile electrons play the role of gathering and distributing photon energies to other particles. That role requires them to keep their distance from other electrons and they do so via energy exchanges. Their photon energy links to nuclear protons supply those protons and thereby neutrons with their energy desires. What we term a “hole” is a a sign that the energy desires of the nuclear particles could be better satisfied if an electron occupied that location. Photon streams to nuclear particles are trying to attract electron outputting photons into that location.

The outer electrons of structures are the least photon energy bound to them. Some are strongly held (electrical insulators) and others weakly held (good conductors). Photon energy pressures will try to dislodge them; they can be a push caused by an approaching electron or a pull provided by a photon stream to a “hole” in another structure, whose energy needs are not being efficiently met by its current electron numbers.

Outer valence electrons are also the means by which atom and molecule structures photon energy link to one another to make larger material structure. Semiconductor materials like silicon and germanium are themselves energy stable and not good conductors of electricity. However, by doping with other elements we can upset their stability and makes them into highly conductive materials that will allow outer electron movements (current flows) when external voltages are applied.

Voltage is usually provided by a two pole source that delivers a surplus of electrons at one pole and a deficit of electrons at the other pole. The surplus electrons put photon pressures on outer electrons to move. The deficit is in the form of locations (holes) that desire to be occupied by an electron. Each pole will act independently for a minuscule time producing its own local pressures and particle movements. If a circuit exists with low resistance to electron movements continuous current will flow.

A one amp current flow is equivalent to 6.25 billion, billion outer electrons passing through a cross section of a conductor every single second. That might sound a lot but it is a small number relative to the outer electrons in a tiny length of a conductor and most of these electrons progress along a conductor length at less than tortoise pace. What does switch our lights on instantly are the photon energy exchange between those electrons. They act at light speed and consequently any movement of electrons in an electric cable will rapidly set in motion electrons that are even miles away in that same cable. For historical reasons the movement of electrons is seen as a current flow in the opposite direction.

Some structures hold onto their outer electrons strongly, others like silver and copper easily part with their outer electrons. The photon energy pressure needed to displace an outer electron it carries with it. In most circumstances such energy is tiny relative to its inherent or mass energy. That or some of that carried energy is released as photon energy when it engages with another atomic particle structure. The copper cables taking energy to appliances mildly warm; nickel chromium elements in toasters output high numbers of infra-red heat photons; light bulbs output the higher photon energies of visible light.