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in Basic Instrumentation, Transducers / 42 Comments

A transducer is a device that is used to convert a physical quantity into its corresponding electrical signal.

In most of the electrical systems, the input signal will not be an electrical signal, but a non-electrical signal. This will have to be converted into its corresponding electrical signal if its value is to be measured using electrical methods.

The block diagram of a transducer is given below.

Transducer Block Diagram
                                                  Transducer Block Diagram

A transducer will have basically two main components. They are

1. Sensing Element

The physical quantity or its rate of change is sensed and responded to by this part of the transistor.

2. Transduction Element

The output of the sensing element is passed on to the transduction element. This element is responsible for converting the non-electrical signal into its proportional electrical signal.

There may be cases when the transduction element performs the action of both transduction and sensing. The best example of such a transducer is a thermocouple. A thermocouple is used to generate a voltage corresponding to the heat that is generated at the junction of two dissimilar metals.

Selection of Transducer

Selection of a transducer is one of the most important factors which help in obtaining accurate results. Some of the main parameters are given below.

  • Selection depends on the physical quantity to be measured.
  • Depends on the best transducer principle for the given physical input.
  • Depends on the order of accuracy to be obtained.

Transducer Classification

Some of the common methods of classifying transducers are given below.

  • Based on their application.
  • Based on the method of converting the non-electric signal into electric signal.
  • Based on the output electrical quantity to be produced.
  • Based on the electrical phenomenon or parameter that may be changed due to the whole process. Some of the most commonly electrical quantities in a transducer are resistance, capacitance, voltage, current or inductance. Thus, during transduction, there may be changes in resistance, capacitance and induction, which in turn change the output voltage or current.
  • Based on whether the transducer is active or passive.

Transducer Applications

The applications of transducers based on the electric parameter used and the principle involved is given below.

1. Passive Type Transducers

a. Resistance Variation Type

  • Resistance Strain Gauge – The change in value of resistance of metal semi-conductor due to elongation or compression is known by the measurement of torque, displacement or force.
  • Resistance Thermometer – The change in resistance of metal wire due to the change in temperature known by the measurement of temperature.
  • Resistance Hygrometer – The change in the resistance of conductive strip due to the change of moisture content is known by the value of its corresponding humidity.
  • Hot Wire Meter – The change in resistance of a heating element due to convection cooling of a flow of gas is known by its corresponding gas flow or pressure.
  • Photoconductive Cell – The change in resistance of a cell due to a corresponding change in light flux is known by its corresponding light intensity.
  • Thermistor – The change in resistance of a semi-conductor that has a negative co-efficient of resistance is known by its corresponding measure of temperature.
  • Potentiometer Type – The change in resistance of a potentiometer reading due to the movement of the slider as a part of an external force applied is known by its corresponding pressure or displacement.

b. Capacitance Variation Type

  • Variable Capacitance Pressure Gauge – The change in capacitance due to the change of distance between two parallel plates caused by an external force is known by its corresponding displacement or pressure.
  • Dielectric Gauge – The change in capacitance due to a change in the dielectric is known by its corresponding liquid level or thickness.
  • Capacitor Microphone – The change in capacitance due to the variation in sound pressure on a movable diagram is known by its corresponding sound.

c. Inductance Variation Type

  • Eddy Current Transducer – The change in inductance of a coil due to the proximity of an eddy current plate is known by its corresponding displacement or thickness.
  • Variable Reluctance Type – The variation in reluctance of a magnetic circuit that occurs due to the change in position of the iron core or coil is known by its corresponding displacement or pressure.
  • Proximity Inductance Type – The inductance change of an alternating current excited coil due to the change in the magnetic circuit is known by its corresponding pressure or displacement.
  • Differential Transformer – The change in differential voltage of 2 secondary windings of a transformer because of the change in position of the magnetic core is known by its corresponding  force, pressure or displacement.
  • Magnetostrictive Transducer – The change in magnetic properties due to change in pressure and stress is known by its corresponding sound value, pressure or force.

d. Voltage and Current Type

  • Photo-emissive Cell – Electron emission due to light incidence on photo-emissive surface is known by its corresponding light flux value.
  • Hall Effect – The voltage generated due to magnetic flux across a semi-conductor plate with a movement of current through it is known by its corresponding value of magnetic flux or current.
  • Ionisation Chamber – The electron flow variation due to the ionisation of gas caused by radio-active radiation is known by its corresponding radiation value.

2. Active Type

  • Photo-voltaic Cell – The voltage change that occurs across the p-n junction due to light radiation is known by its corresponding solar cell value or light intensity.
  • Thermopile – The voltage change developed across a junction of two dissimilar metals is known by its corresponding value of temperature, heat or flow.
  • Piezoelectric Type – When an external force is applied on to a quartz crystal, there will be a change in the voltage generated across the surface. This change is measured by its corresponding value of sound or vibration.
  • Moving Coil Type – The change in voltage generated in a magnetic field can be measured using its corresponding value of vibration or velocity.


  1. priykant ashara

    I got very useful info from this site abt electrical transducers . thank you very much.

  2. kashif ali

    thanks for a post a great information about tarnsdure thanks u very much i was sastify youir notes

  3. Chitrarth Lav

    The information is very basic yet very complete and satisfying, thumbs up!

  4. Nisha Jangra

    if a transducer converts one form of energy into another then is it so that gdynamo/generator is also a transducer???

    • Jaydeep

      yes it is also one Type of transducer which convert mechanical energy into an electric One…

  5. nokulunga

    can you please explain in details the principle of passive and active transducerd and the examples

  6. soumitra

    thanks for the useful information. but the difference between sensor and transducer is still remains unclear.

  7. Ekpadajovwo Joshua Oke

    I am not clear about sensor and detector are they active and passive transducer?

  8. abhilasha bajaj

    the rest is good but could you elaborate more on the transducer classification???

  9. Garima pandey

    Hey thanks but i m not satisfied please give more n sme important information about transducer…i love the subject.TRANSDUCER and APPLICATION

    • Nishant singh NIHAL

      u have any notes about what basic difference about active and passive transduser plz. give .

  10. raghuraj

    say a non electrical quantity to a electrical one…..its all about conversion

  11. wade

    studying applied science at a-level, struggled to find any info on transducers any where else, the basics are there but could probably clear up in areas such as transducer classification, and also maybe go into specific transducers and manufacturers data sheets,

  12. preethi

    thanks for the information if some more information is their then it will useful

  13. paramanand ganiger

    This one matter gives all engenearing students have 10 marks

  14. Nishant singh NIHAL

    i get more imformation about transducer., the block diagram ends my confusion …… thanks

  15. Sanjay

    Thanks a lot to all associated whoes upload this type of notes.. I am very much helpfull from this notes

  16. GVln rao

    Yes it is better knwoledge theory about self dovelopemt idea on transducer types and princeple of operation

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