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What are Solid State Electronics?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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Solid state electronics are devices that do not contain any conventionally moving parts. These types of devices often utilize circuits and other components that transmit signals through electrical charges that do not require movement to control them. There are a number of different electronic devices that utilize solid state technology, including liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and memory storage devices other than hard disk drives. Solid state electronics are often preferable to devices that contain moving parts because such parts are prone to wear and tear or breaking through accidents and use.

In reference to solid state electronics, the term “solid state” refers to the fact that the components within a device are not in motion. This term came into popular usage in reference to new computer devices in the 1950s and 1960s that replaced older vacuum tubes and similar systems with semiconductors and other technology. It continues to be used to refer to technology and electronic devices that do not include moving parts in their standard performance. There are still potentially movements made within solid state electronics, but these consist primarily of the movements of electrical charges rather than of physical devices.

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Some of the most common types of solid state electronics are memory storage devices. Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and flash memory sticks are prime example of this type of memory storage. In both types, transistors and microprocessors are used for data storage and retrieval. DRAM typically consists of volatile memory that requires power to retain data, which is why it is utilized for random access memory rather than as a hard drive. Flash memory sticks are solid state electronics that are non-volatile and can retain data even without a power supply.

Solid state electronics are often preferable to electronic devices with moving components due to the tendency for the latter to break down over time. A hard disk drive, for example, contains a disk that spins and read/write heads that magnetically read from and write onto the disk. Over time, due to wear from use or accidental dropping and jarring, these mechanisms can shift out of alignment and will no longer function properly. Solid state electronics do not suffer from this potential for failure, which often make them preferable for use in systems that will be subject to intense movement, though they are also typically quite a bit more expensive.

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