In electrical circuits, the classification of circuit elements can be classified as

**Contents**show

- Linear and non-linear element
- Active and Passive element
- Unilateral and Bilateral element
- Time-variant and Time invariant element

## Linear and non-linear element

An element or a system is said to be **linear** if it obeys the principles of **additive** and **homogeneity** properties. For linear elements, the current is always proportional to the voltage. The V-I characteristics of linear elements is a * straight line passing through the origin at all time*. Examples: ohmic resistances, conductors etc.

**Homogeneity Property:**

When I_{1} is the circuit current for applied voltage E_{1}, then for applied voltage kE_{1} the circuit current should be kI_{1}. Where k is a constant.

**Additive Property:**

If I_{1} is the current for applied voltage E_{1}, I_{2} is current for Voltage E_{2} then for applied voltage E_{1}+E_{2}, the current should be I_{1}+I_{2}.

All the elements which are not linear and do not obey the principles of homogeneity and additive properties are called **non-linear elements**. A nonlinear element doesn’t obey Ohm’s law. Examples: diodes and other semiconducting materials, non-linear resistors etc.

## Active and Passive Elements

Active elements are the energy sources which deliver power to the network whereas passive elements are the elements in the network which consume energy.

Power supply elements such as voltage sources and current sources either independent or dependent which deliver power are called **active elements**. For an active element, the ratio of the voltage to the current (i.e. the slope of the curve) is **negative** i.e.

The elements which consume energy are called **passive elements**. These elements either convert energy into another form or store energy in the electric or magnetic field. The elements **resistor**, **inductor** and **capacitor** are the passive elements. For passive elements, the ratio of voltage to current (i.e. the slope of the curve) is **positive** i.e

*Hence it can be concluded that If the slope of V-I characteristic at all points is positive then element has passive behaviour. If at any point on the V-I characteristic, the slope is negative then element has active behaviour.*

## Unilateral and bilateral elements

The impedance (or resistance) offered by the **bilateral elements** is same for either direction of the current flow. The volt-ampere (V-I) characteristics of bilateral elements are symmetrical on 1^{st} and 3^{rd} quadrants or on 2^{nd} and 4^{th} quadrants. Examples: Resistors, Inductors and capacitors.

The impedance (or resistance) offered by the **unilateral elements** differs for currents flowing in either direction. They offer high impedance when a current in one direction and a low impedance when the current direction reverses. Example: Diodes.

The V-I characteristics of unilateral elements are unsymmetrical on 1^{st} and 3^{rd} quadrants or 2^{nd} and 4^{th} quadrants.

**Note:** Every linear element is bilateral but the converse is not true.

## Time-variant and Time invariant element

An element is said to be **time-variant** whose V-I characteristics changes with time.

An element is said to be **time-invariant** whose V-I characteristics do not change with time.

The explanation with reference to I-V curves is very refreshing approach and very useful. Thank you for the content.

What if the V-I characteristic of a element lies in 1st and 4th quadrant. Will it be active or passive and why?

If any point v/i is negative then element is called active element.

So this is active element.

Active element as in the 4th quadrant, v/i <0

The best explanation ever. Simple english and easy to understand.