# Electronics - Physics 2010/11. Transducers

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1 Transducers

2 Transducers Sensors Performance Type: Temperature, Light, Force, Motion, Displacement, Sound Interfacing Actuators Type: Heat, Light, Force, Displacement, Motion, Sound Interfacing

3 Introduction To implement the scientific method it is necessary to carry out measurements To carry out measurements, systems must interact with their environment To do this they use sensors and actuators Sensors and actuators are examples of transducers A transducer is a device that converts one physical quantity into another examples include: a mercury-in-glass thermometer (converts temperature into displacement of a column of mercury) a microphone (converts sound into an electrical signal). We will first look at sensors and then at actuators

4 Sensors Almost any physical property of a material that changes in response to some excitation can be used to produce a sensor widely used sensors include those that are: resistive inductive capacitive piezoelectric photoresistive elastic thermal

5 Sensor Performance (1) Range maximum and minimum values that can be measured Resolution or discrimination smallest discernible change in the measured value Error difference between the measured and actual values random errors systematic errors Accuracy, inaccuracy, uncertainty accuracy is a measure of the maximum expected error

6 Sensor Performance (2) Precision a measure of the lack of random errors (scatter)

7 Sensor Performance (3) Linearity maximum deviation from a straight-line response normally expressed as a percentage of the fullscale value Sensitivity a measure of the change produced at the output for a given change in the quantity being measured

8 Temperature sensors (1) Resistive thermometers typical devices use platinum wire (such a device is called a platinum resistance thermometers or PRT) linear but has poor sensitivity A typical PRT element A sheathed PRT

9 Temperature sensors (2) Thermistors use materials with a high thermal coefficient of resistance sensitive but highly non-linear A typical disc thermistor A threaded thermistor

10 Temperature sensors (3) pn junctions a semiconductor device with the properties of a diode (we will consider semiconductors and diodes later) inexpensive, linear and easy to use limited temperature range (perhaps -50 C to 150 C) due to nature of semiconductor material pn-junction sensor

11 Light Sensors (1) Photovoltaic light falling on a pn-junction can be used to generate electricity from light energy (as in a solar cell) small devices used as sensors are called photodiodes fast acting, but the voltage produced is not linearly related to light intensity A typical photodiode

12 Light Sensors (2) Photoconductive such devices do not produce electricity, but simply change their resistance photodiode (as described earlier) can be used in this way to produce a linear device phototransistors act like photodiodes but with greater sensitivity light-dependent resistors (LDRs) are slow, but respond like the human eye A light-dependent resistor (LDR)

13 Force Sensors Strain gauge stretching in one direction increases the resistance of the device, while stretching in the other direction has little effect can be bonded to a surface to measure strain used within load cells and pressure sensors Direction of sensitivity A strain gauge

14 Displacement Sensors (1) Potentiometers resistive potentiometers are one of the most widely used forms of position sensor can be angular or linear consists of a length of resistive material with a sliding contact onto the resistive track when used as a position transducer a potential is placed across the two end terminals, the voltage on the sliding contact is then proportional to its position an inexpensive and easy to use sensor

15 Displacement Sensors (2) Inductive proximity sensors coil inductance is greatly affected by the presence of ferromagnetic materials here the proximity of a ferromagnetic plate is determined by measuring the inductance of a coil Inductive proximity sensors

16 Displacement Sensors (3) Switches simplest form of digital displacement sensor many forms: lever or push-rod operated microswitches; float switches; pressure switches; etc. A limit switch A float switch

17 Displacement Sensors Opto-switches consist of a light source and a light sensor within a single unit 2 common forms are the reflective and slotted types A reflective opto-switch A slotted opto-switch

18 Encoders (1) Absolute position encoders a pattern of light and dark strips is printed on to a strip and is detected by a sensor that moves along it the pattern takes the form of a series of lines as shown below it is arranged so that the combination is unique at each point sensor is an array of photodiodes

19 Encoders (2) Incremental position encoder uses a single line that alternates black/white two slightly offset sensors produce outputs as shown below detects motion in either direction, pulses are counted to determine absolute position (which must be initially reset)

20 Counting devices Other counting techniques several methods use counting to determine position two examples are given below Inductive sensor Opto-switch sensor

21 Motion Sensors Motion sensors measure quantities such as velocity and acceleration can be obtained by differentiating displacement differentiation tends to amplify high-frequency noise Alternatively can be measured directly some sensors give velocity directly e.g. measuring frequency of pulses in the counting techniques described earlier gives speed rather than position some sensors give acceleration directly e.g. accelerometers usually measure the force on a mass

22 Sound Sensors Microphones a number of forms are available e.g. carbon (resistive), capacitive, piezoelectric and moving-coil microphones moving-coil devices use a magnet and a coil attached to a diaphragm we will discuss electromagnetism later

23 Sensor Interfacing Resistive devices: can be very simple e.g. in a potentiometer, with a fixed voltage across the outer terminals, the voltage on the third is directly related to position; where the resistance of the device changes with the quantity being measured, this change can be converted into a voltage signal using a potential divider as shown; the output of this arrangement is not linearly related to the change in resistance.

24 Switches Switches switch interfacing is also simple can use a single resistor as below to produce a voltage output all mechanical switches suffer from switch bounce

25 Other sensors Capacitive and inductive sensors sensors that change their capacitance or inductance in response to external influences normally require the use of alternating current (AC) circuitry such circuits need not be complicated we will consider AC circuits in later lectures

26 Key Points A wide range of sensors is available Some sensors produce an output voltage related to the measured quantity and therefore supply power Other devices simply change their physical properties Some sensors produce an output that is linearly related to the quantity being measured, others do not Interfacing may be required to produce signals in the correct form

27 Actuators Introduction Heat Actuators Light Actuators Force, Displacement and Motion Actuators Sound Actuators Actuator Interfacing

28 Introduction In order to be useful an electrical or electronic system must be able to affect its external environment. This is done through the use of one of more actuators As with sensors, actuators are a form of transducer which convert one physical quantity into another Here we are interested in actuators that take electrical signals from our system and from them vary some external physical quantity

29 Heat Actuators Most heat actuators are simple resistive heaters For applications requiring a few watts ordinary resistors of an appropriate power rating can be used For higher power applications there are a range of heating cables and heating elements available

30 Light Actuators For general illumination it is normal to use conventional incandescent light bulbs or fluorescent lamps power ratings range from a fraction of a watt to perhaps hundreds of watts easy to use but relatively slow in operation unsuitable for signalling and communication applications

31 LEDs Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) produce light when electricity is passed though them a range of semiconductor materials can be used to produce light of different colours can be used individually or in multiple-segment devices such as the seven-segment display shown here LED seven-segment displays

32 LCDs Liquid crystal displays consist of 2 sheets of polarised glass with a thin layer of oily liquid sandwiched between them an electric field rotates the polarization of the liquid making it opaque can be formed into multielement displays (such as 7-segment displays) can also be formed into a matrix display to display any character or image A custom LCD display

33 Optical fibers Fibre-optic communication used for long-distance communication removes the effects of ambient light fibre-optic cables can be made of: optical polymer glass inexpensive and robust high attenuation, therefore short range (up to about 20 metres) much lower attenuation allowing use up to hundreds of kilometres more expensive than polymer fibres light source would often be a laser diode

34 Force, Displacement & Motion Actuators Solenoids basically a coil and a ferromagnetic slug when energised the slug is attracted into the coil force is proportional to current can produce a force, a displacement or motion can be linear or angular often used in an ON/OFF mode Small linear solenoids

35 Analog displays Meters moving-iron effectively a rotary solenoid + spring can measure DC or AC moving-coil most common form deflection proportional to average value of current f.s.d. typically 50 A 1 ma use in voltmeters and ammeters is discussed later Moving-coil meters

36 Movement actuators Motors three broad classes AC motors primarily used in high-power applications DC motors used in precision position-control applications Stepper motors a digital actuator used in position control applications

37 Stepper motors Stepper motors a central rotor surrounded by a number of coils (or windings) opposite pairs of coils are energised in turn this drags the rotor round one step at a time speed proportional to frequency typical motor might require steps per revolution

38 Stepper motor Stepper-motor current waveforms A typical stepper-motor

39 Sound Actuators Speakers usually use a permanent magnet and a movable coil connected to a diaphragm input signals produce current in the coil causing it to move with respect to the magnet Ultrasonic transducers at high frequencies speakers are often replaced by piezoelectric actuators operate over a narrow frequency range

40 Actuator Interfacing Resistive devices interfacing involves controlling the power in the device in a resistive actuator, power is related to the voltage for high-power devices the problem is in delivering sufficient power to drive the actuator high-power electronic circuits will be considered later high-power actuators are often controlled in an ON/OFF manner these techniques use electrically operated switches

41 Other actuators Capacitive and inductive devices many actuators are capacitive or inductive (such as motors and solenoids) these create particular problems particularly when using switching techniques

42 Key Points Systems affect their environment using actuators Most actuators take power from their inputs in order to deliver power at their outputs Some devices consume only a fraction of a watt while others consume hundreds or perhaps thousands of watts In most cases the efficiency of the energy conversion is less than 100%, in many cases it is much less Some circuits resemble resistive loads while others have considerable capacitance or inductance. The ease or difficulty of driving actuators varies with their characteristics.

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