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Tech Talk

Transistors - Are There any Limitations To Using These Devices?

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Transistors have the following limitations:

  • They lack the higher electron mobility afforded by the vacuum of vacuum tubes, which is desirable for high-power, high-frequency operation — such as that used in over-the-air television broadcasting

  • Transistors and other solid-state devices are susceptible to damage from very brief electrical and thermal events, including electrostatic discharge in handling; vacuum tubes are electrically much more rugged;

  • They are sensitive to radiation and cosmic rays (special radiation-hardened chips are used for spacecraft devices);

  • In audio applications, transistors lack the lower-harmonic distortion — the so-called tube sound — which is characteristic of vacuum tubes, and is preferred by some.