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Definition of Transducer, Sensor, and Actuator

Thursday, May 28, 2009


There are many devices which have close meaning, eg: transducer, sensor, detector, and actuator. What is difference of each device?

A transducer is a device that converts a signal from one physical form to a corresponding signal having a different physical form. There for it is an energy converter. This means that the input signal always has energy or power.

There are six different kind of signal:
  • Mechanical
  • Thermal
  • Magnetic
  • Electric
  • Optical
  • Chemical
Any device converting signal of one kind to signal of a different kind is considered to be a transducer. The output signals can be of any useful physical form. The transducer can placed as input transducer or output transducer. An input transducer converts physical signal to electric signal while an output transducer converts electric signal to physical signal.

Another name of input and output transducers are sensor and actuator. Sensor is used to refer to the input transducer while actuator refers to the output transducer. Sensors are intended to acquire information, usually designed to handle LOW power and intended to consume energy as low as possible. Actuators are designed to power conversion and to handle (relatively) HIGH power.

Sensors monitor a measurand (a quantity to be measured) by taking advantage of how it affects a material or geometric property that causes a change in a measurable quantity (energy form). This quantity is either directly or indirectly converted into a form that is useful for processing. Functional design “around” the sensing mechanism may be required in order to yield a usable output signal.

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Sensor Classification:
Sensor can be classified by transduction principle, measurand, physical law, detection method, etc.
Transduction Principle
• Active sensor: a sensor that requires external power to operate. It converts form of input energy into form of output energy by using additional energy. Examples: the carbon microphone, thermistors, strain gauges, capacitive and inductive sensors, etc. Other name: modulating sensor, parametric sensors (output is a function of a parameter - like resistance)
Passive sensor: a sensor that generates its own electric signal and does not require a power source. It converts form of input energy into form of output energy without additional energy. Examples: thermocouples, magnetic microphones, piezoelectric sensors. Other name: self-generating sensors

• Electric sensors
• Magnetic
• Electromagnetic
• Acoustic • Chemical
• Optical
• Heat, Temperature
• Mechanical
• Radiation
• Biological
• Etc.

Physical law:
• Photoelectric
• Magnetoelectric
• Thermoelectric
• Photoconductive
• Magnitostrictive
• Electrostrictive
• Photomagnetic
• Thermoelastic
• Thermomagnetic
• Thermooptic
• Electrochemical
• Magnetoresistive
• Photoelastic
• Etc.

Application area:
• Consumer products
• Military applications
• Infrastructure
• Energy
• Heat
• Manufacturing
• Transportation
• Automotive
• Avionic
• Marine
• Space
• Scientific
• Etc.

Reference Books About Sensor:

Wireless Sensor Networks for Healthcare ApplicationsBioMEMS (Microsystems) Handbook of Transducers
Wireless Sensor Networks...    
by Terrance J. Dishongh
BioMEMS (Microsystems)         
Handbook of Transducers
by Harry N. Norton



daerahku daerah Gambut said...

i will make a sensor too.:D

February 13, 2010 at 4:11 PM
Admin said...

great.. what kind of sensor will you make? Please let me know the result when you finish it :)

February 14, 2010 at 8:30 PM
Javahostindo Web Hosting Indonesia said...

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February 24, 2011 at 12:54 AM
Komodo Island is The NEW 7 Wonders of The World said...

last coment.. and thanks for you support...

February 24, 2011 at 1:02 AM

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