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What Are Two Appliances That Use Semiconductors?

Dennis Hartman

Semiconductors are one of the essential elements of computers and a key technology in the digital age. Semiconductors use a variety of organic and inorganic materials to conduct and alter electrical charges that users apply to them. Since its invention in the mid-20th century, the semiconductor has largely replaced vacuum tubes in electronics, allowing for more complex and smaller electronic devices and modern computers.

Guitar Amplifiers

Modern computer chips contain millions of semiconductors.

Some guitar amplifiers, known as solid-state amps, rely on semiconductors to turn the input signal from an electric guitar into an output signal suitable for performing live in a large space. The semiconductors inside a guitar amplifier convert the electric input signal in a series of stages which the user can control with dials on the device to produce music with the appropriate volume and tone. Traditionally guitar amplifiers used vacuum tubes, which made them fragile, expensive and bulky devices. Semiconductors allow musicians to use amplifiers that are much easier to transport and less costly to service and repair.

Transistor Radios

Early radios were large devices that used vacuum tubes to amplify an over-the-air signal and produce an audible sound through the device's speakers. The development of transistors, which are semiconductors that function as both an electronic switch and a signal amplifier, allowed electronics manufacturers to produce small, portable radios for the first time. Transistor radios are also notable for being among the first Japanese-produced electronic devices to sell in high volumes in the U.S.

Appliances With Integrated Circuits

Semiconductors are an essential component of integrated circuits, including computer chips. Today many different types of devices rely on one or more computer chips to perform advanced functions. These include appliances like microwaves, digital thermostats and televisions. Other household appliances and devices that use integrated circuits include digital radios, DVD players, stereo systems, clothes washing machines and, of course, personal computers.