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transducer

What is a transducer?

A transducer is an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another. Common examples include microphones, loudspeakers, thermometers, position and pressure sensors, and antenna. Although not generally thought of as transducers, photocells, LEDs (light-emitting diodes), and even common light bulbs are transducers.

Efficiency is an important consideration in any transducer. Transducer efficiency is defined as the ratio of the power output in the desired form to the total power input. Mathematically, if P represents the total power input and Q represents the power output in the desired form, then the efficiency E, as a ratio between 0 and 1, is given by:

E = Q/P

If E% represents the efficiency as a percentage, then:

E% = 100Q/P

No transducer is 100 percent efficient; some power is always lost in the conversion process. Usually this loss is manifested in the form of heat. Some antennas approach 100-percent efficiency. A well-designed antenna supplied with 100 watts of radio frequency (RF) power radiates 80 or 90 watts in the form of an electromagnetic field. A few watts are dissipated as heat in the antenna conductors, the feed line conductors and dielectric, and in objects near the antenna. Among the worst transducers, in terms of efficiency, are incandescent lamps. A 100-watt bulb radiates only a few watts in the form of visible light. Most of the power is dissipated as heat; a small amount is radiated in the UV (ultraviolet) spectrum.

This was last updated in October 2021

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