This article is about an engineering device. For the similarly named concept in computer science, see Finite state transducer.

A transducer is a device that converts one form of energy to another. Usually a transducer converts a signal in one form of energy to a signal in another.[1]

Transducers are often employed at the boundaries of automation, measurement, and control systems, where electrical signals are converted to and from other physical quantities (energy, force, torque, light, motion, position, etc.). The process of converting one form of energy to another is known as transduction.[2]

Transducer types


Passive sensors require an external power source to operate, which is called an excitation signal. The signal is modulated by the sensor to produce an output signal. For example, a thermistor does not generate any electrical signal, but by passing an electric current through it, its resistance can be measured by detecting variations in the current and/or voltage across the thermistor, LVDT.[3][2]


Active sensors generate electric signals in response to an external stimulus without the need of an additional energy source. Such examples are a thermocouple, photodiode, and a piezoelectric sensor, thermocouple.[4]


A sensor is a device that receives and responds to a signal or stimulus.[5] Transducer is the other term that is sometimes interchangeably used instead of the term sensor, although there are subtle differences. A transducer is a term that can be used for the definition of many devices such as sensors, actuators, or transistors.[6][2]


An actuator is a device that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system. It is operated by a source of energy, which can be mechanical force, electrical current, hydraulic fluid pressure, or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into motion. An actuator is the mechanism by which a control system acts upon an environment. The control system can be simple (a fixed mechanical or electronic system), software-based (e.g. a printer driver, robot control system), a human, or any other input.[2]


Bidirectional transducers convert physical phenomena to electrical signals and also convert electrical signals into physical phenomena. Examples of inherently bidirectional transducers are antennae, which can convert conducted electrical signals to or from propagating electromagnetic waves, and voice coils, which convert electrical signals into sound (when used in a loudspeaker) or sound into electrical signals (when used in a microphone). Likewise, DC electric motors may be used to generate electrical power if the motor shaft is turned by an external torque.[2]

Ideal characteristics


Transducers are used in electronic communications systems to convert signals of various physical forms to electronic signals, and vice versa. In this example, the first transducer could be a microphone, and the second transducer could be a speaker.

See also


  1. Agarwal, Anant. Foundations of Analog and Digital Electronic Circuits.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005, p. 43
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 To cite a book with a credited author Winer, Ethan (2013). "Part 3". The Audio Expert. New York and London: Focal Press. ISBN 978-0-240-82100-9.
  3. Fraden J. (2016). Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs, and Applications 5th ed. Springer. p.7
  4. Fraden J. (2016). Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs, and Applications 5th ed. Springer. p.7
  5. Fraden J. (2016). Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs, and Applications 5th ed. Springer. p.1
  6. Kalantar-zadeh, K. (2013). Sensors: An Introductory Course 2013th Edition. Springer. p.1

External links

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