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.
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.
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.
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.