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At the end of this chapter, students should be able to: Explain the basic structure of several types of transducers. Describe the characteristics of several types of transducers. Analyze some simple application circuits that uses transducers.

CHAPTER 4 Transducers and Applications



Electrical Transducer

A transducer is defined as a device that receives energy from one system and transmits it to another, often in a different d e e form o (e (electrical, ec ca , mechanical ec a ca o or acous acoustical). ca ) Basically, there are two types of transducers : 1) Electrical 2) Mechanical The electrical output of a transducer depends on the basic principle involved in the design. The output may be analog analog, digital digital, or frequency modulated.

An electrical transducer is a device that converts a physical, mechanical or optical quantity into a proportional voltage or current quantity. A electrical An l ti lt transducer d must t have h th the f following ll i parameters t : 1) Linearity Linear relationship between a physical parameter and the resulting electrical signal. 2) Sensitivity Defined as the electrical output per unit change in the physical parameter (eg (eg. V/0C) High sensitivity is desirable.

Electrical Transducer
3) Dynamic Range Transducer must have a wide operating range. 4) Repeatability The input/output relationship for a transducer should be predictable over a long period of time. 5) Physical Size The transducer must have minimal weight and volume to minimize the disturbance to the existing conditions/environment.

Electrical Transducer

Electrical transducers can be classified into two major categories : 1) Active transducers Generates an electrical signal directly in response to the physical parameter (does not require external power to operate). Example : piezo-electric sensor and photo cells. 2) Passive transducers Requires q external p power to operate. p Example : Strain gauges and thermistors.

Resistive Position Transducer

Resistive position transducer

Operates under a principle of resistance change by the physical movement under measurement. One type of resistive position transducer is shown in Figure 13 2 (t 13.2 (textbook). tb k) The shaft and wiper can be moved to the left or right causes a change in the circuit resistance in Figure 13.2(b). The output voltage of the circuit is given by :

VO R2 = Vt R1 + R2


The output voltage is proportional to R2 .

See Example 13.1 and 13.2 (textbook).

Strain Gauges

Strain Gauges

The strain gauge is an example of a passive transducer that senses the strain produced by a force on the wires. Wh a gauge is When i subjected bj t d t to a positive iti stress t , its it length l th increases while its area of cross-section decreases thus increases its resistance.


where = resistivity, l = length, A = cross - sectional area

There are three main types of strain gauge : 1) Wire strain gauges 2) Foil strain gauge 3) Semiconductor strain gauge


Strain Gauges

Sample of strain gauge



Strain Gauges

Strain Gauges

1) Wire Strain Gauges The figure above shows a metallic bonded strain gauge. A fine wire element is cemented to a thin sheet of paper, bakelite or teflon. The measurement of the sensitivity of a material to strain is called the gauge factor f (G ) (GF). The gauge factor (GF) is given by :

GF = K =

R / R l / l



Strain Gauges
where K = GF = gauge factor R = the change in the initial resistance in R = the initial resistance (without strain) l = the change in the length in m l = the initial length in m (without strain)

Strain Gauges
Example : Given a resistance strain gauge with GF = 2.0. Strain is 1 x 10-6 and R = 120. Calculate R.

Solution :

Strain is defined as l/l in equation (4-2).

Therefore Therefore,

R/R l/l R = KR l/l K= = 2 120 110-6 = 240



Strain Gauges

Strain Gauges (bridge arrangement)

Why is compensation needed? Resistance Resistance of fine wire is very sensitive to temperature and stress variation. Contributes error. Both gauges will experience the same effect caused by temperature changes. Unstressed (dummy) strain will balance the bridge.

The strain gauge is normally used in a bridge arrangement in which the gauge forms one arm of the bridge. bridge A simple DC bridge circuit is shown in Figure above.



Strain Gauges

Strain Gauges
3) Semiconductor Strain Gauge Semiconductor strain gauge has a very high gauge factor (as high as 50 times the wire strain gauge). Figure 13.10 (textbook) shows the construction of a semiconductor strain gauge. The resistive material used to make this gauge is a semiconductor type such as germanium and silicon. Even though semiconductor has a very high gauge factor, it is very sensitive to changes in temperature. Its linearity is poor and it is more expensive expensive.

One of the gauge is an active element while the other is a dummy gauge. The dummy gauge is used to compensate the temperature variation.

2) Foil Strain Gauge This Thi gauge l looks k lik like a wire i gauge except t it uses a metal t lf foil il as the sensing element. The foil strain gauge is shown in Figure above. Foil strain gauge has the same characteristics as the wire strain gauges.


Sample of semiconductor strain gauge

Strain Gauges (semicond gauge)

Advantages of s/c strain gauge

Smaller S ll size i Higher sensitivity and GF Low hysterisis (more elastic) Very sensitive to temperature Non-linear resistance-to-strain relationship

Disadvantages of s/c strain gauge

Varying 10-20% from a straight line equation

*these limitations can be overcome through software compensation.



Capacitive Transducer

Capacitive transducer operates by a linear change in capacitance. The capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor is given by:




kA 0 d



k = the dielectric constant (or r) A = the area of the plate, in m2 0 = 8.854 x 10-12 , in Farads / m electric constant d = the plate spacing in m.
From equation (4-3), the capacitance increases if (i) the effective area of the plate is increased, and (ii) the material has a high dielectric constant.



Capacitive Transducer

Capacitive Transducer

A variable plate area transducer is shown in the figure below. It is made of a fixed plate called Stator and a movable plate called the Rotor. The capacitance of the transducer is changing as the rotor changes its position relative to the stator. This transducer can be used to detect the amount of roll in an aircraft.

Another example of capacitive transducer is the capacitive pressure transducer as shown in the figure above. This sensor is designed to measure pressure (in vacuum). A metallic diaphragm will move to the right when pressure is pp to the chamber and to the left when vacuum is applied applied. This diaphragm is used as one plate of a variable capacitor. The capacitive transducer is simple to construct, inexpensive, and effective for HF variations.


Inductive Transducer


Inductive transducers may be either of the self generating or the passive type. The self generating type utilizes the basic electrical generator t principle, i i l ie. i a motion ti between b t a conductor d t and d magnetic field induces a voltage in the conductor. A tachometer is an example of the self generating transducer which directly converts speed or velocity into an electrical signal. An inductive electromechanical transducer converts physical motion into a change g in inductance.



Inductive Transducer

Inductive Transducer

Figure (a) and (b) are transducers used for the measurement of displacement of linear and angular movement respectively. In both cases, as the number of turns are changed, the self inductance and the output also changes.
L= R= N R

Figure shows an inductive transducer which works on the principle of the variation of permeability causing a change in self inductance. When the iron core is inside the winding, its permeability is increased, and so is the inductance.



N 2 A


N = # turns, R = Reluctance of the materials/path where the flux is going through = permeability A = Area l = length



Inductive Transducer
-Figure shows the variable reluctance transducer. - The transducer consists of a coil il wound d on a f ferromagnetic ti core.

Inductive Transducer (variable reluctance)

displacement target air gap

The displacement which is to be measured is applied to a ferromagnetic target. The core and the target are separated by an air gap. Th self The lf inductance i d t of f the th coil il i is inversely i l proportional ti l to t the th length l th of the air gap. When the target is near the core, the length is small, thus increases the self inductance.

core (ferromagnetic)

output t t


Inductive Transducer (variable reluctance)

The inductance of the variable reluctance transducer is given by:
L= N2 Ri + R g

where N = number of turns Ri = reluctance of iron parts R g = reluctance of air gap



The reluctance of the iron (target) part is negligible, thus:


lg N2 , Rg = o Ag Rg

where lg = length of the air gap o = permeability Ag = area of the flux path thru air

Rg is proportional to lg, thus L is inversely proportional to lg.






LVDT is Linear Variable Differential Transformer. An movable soft iron slides within the hollow part of the transformer thus affects the magnetic coupling between the primary and the secondary windings. The frequency of the ac voltage applied to the primary winding ranges from 50 Hz to 20 kHz.


Basic construction of LVDT




Previous figure shows the operation and output voltage of an LVDT. The output voltage of an LVDT is given by : E0 = ES1 ES2


Three possible position of the soft iron core: Normal position ES1 = ES2, thus EO = 0V Left position ES1 > ES2, thus EO = ES1 - ES2 Right position ES2 > ES1, thus EO = ES2 ES1




LVDT examples

Example 13.5 (Kalsi) / example 4.4 (module) An AC LVDT has the following data. Input = 6.3 V, output = 5.2 V, range 0.5 in. Determine: i) the output voltage vs core position for a core movement going from +0.45 in to -0.30 in. ii) the output voltage when the core is -0.25 in from the centre.

The amount of voltage change in either secondary winding is proportional to the amount of movement of the core.

Indication of the amount of linear motion. By noting which output is increasing or decreasing, the direction of the motion can be determined.

Advantage: Ad t produces d hi higher h output t t voltage lt f for small ll changes h (hi (high h sensitivity) E.g: 50mV/mm, 300mV/mm Available ranges: 0.05 in to 25 in. Sensitive enough to measure displacements of well below 0.001 in.



Piezoelectric Transducer


Piezoelectric Transducer

Piezoelectric transducer consists of a crystal material such as Quartz, Rochelle salt and Barium titanate which produces an emf ( l t (electromotive ti force) f ) when h they th are placed l d under d stress. t Since the transducer has a very good high frequency (HF) response, its principal use is in HF accelerometers.



Piezoelectric Transducer
E= Q where Q generated charge Cp C p shunt h capacitanc i e

Piezoelectric Transducer


Needs no external power source self generating. ti Can not measure static condition since it is a dynamic responding sensor.
HF accelerometers

When pressure is applied, the pressure sensing diaphragm will sense and pressure will be transferred to top of a crystal. The crystal will produce emf proportional to the magnitude of the applied pressure.






Temperature Transducer


Temperature Transducer

Temperature is one of the most widely measured and controlled variable in industry. Most of the temperature transducers are of Resistance Temperature Detectors (RTD), Thermistors and Thermocouples. RTD and Thermistor are passive devices whose resistance changes with temperature, so they need an electrical supply to give a voltage output. Thermocouples are active transducers and are based on the principle of generation of thermoelectricity. thermoelectricity





RTD is Resistance Temperature Detector. RTD commonly use platinum, nickel, or copper wire whose resistance varies with temperature. The RTD resistance at temperature T0C is given by :

R(T) = R ref (1 + T)


Platinum RTDs provide high accuracy and stability. They have the following advantages : 1) Linearity over a wide operating range 2) Wide operating range (-2000C -> 8500C) 3) Higher temperature operation 4) Better stability at high temperature RTDs are not adaptable to applications requiring fast response or small area temperature sensing. Most RTD instruments use a Wheatstone Wheatstones s Bridge or its modified version as shown in Figure 13.38 (textbook).

where R(T) = resistance of wire at temperature T0C Rref = resistance at the reference temperature = temperature temperat re coefficient of resistance T = difference between operating and reference temperature





Thermistor is one of the temperature transducers. Its resistance decreasing as the temperature increasing. Note that the decrease of thermistors resistance with temperature is non-linear. Figure 13.12 (textbook) shows a graph of resistance vs temperature for a thermistor. The resistance at room temperature (250C) for typical commercial units ranges from 100 to 10 M. Figure 13.13 shows the various type of thermistors. See E Example ample 13 13.4 4 (te (textbook). tbook)


Photodiode / Phototransistor





A reverse biased semiconductor diode passes only a very small leakage current (a fraction of 1 uA in typical small silicon diodes) if the junction is not exposed to light. U d ill Under illumination, i ti th the current t rises i almost l ti in direct di t proportion to the light intensity. Figure 13.35 (textbook) shows the symbol and illumination characteristics of a silicon photodiode. When the device operates with a reverse voltage applied, it functions as a photoconductive device. When operating without the reverse voltage, it functions as a photovoltaic device.






The photodiode has an advantage over the photoconductive cell. Its response time is much faster, so that it can be used in applications li ti i in which hi h th the li light ht fl fluctuations t ti occur at t quite it hi high h frequencies. Example 11.13 (Larry textbook) shows a simple circuit using photodiode to sense light illumination.

Phototransistor is a photodiode with an added junction which makes it an n-p-n device. Phototransistor provides a much larger output current than th photodiode the h t di d f for a given i area of f li light ht ill illumination. i ti This means that phototransistor is more sensitive than photodiode (as much as 100 times). Figure 13.36 (textbook) shows the construction, symbol, and output characteristic of a phototransistor. However, phototransistor has a lower switching time than photodiode. See Example 11.14 (Larry textbook).



Chapter Review

Define transducer and state its function. List four physical quantities that transducer measure. What is the difference between active and passive transducers? List 3 types of temperature transducers. Under what condition is a dummy strain gauge used? What is its function? Describe the difference between a variable reluctance type of transducer and LVDT. What are the advantages of using foil type strain gauge? Explain the differences between photovoltaic and photoconductive transducers.