What These Components Can Provide to Electrical Systems
All electronic systems require timing devices for proper functioning. Timing devices regulate internal frequencies within the system. These frequencies must have consistency and stability for optimum performance.
Engineers can choose from many different timing solutions when designing their electrical systems. Two of the most common options are crystal oscillators and resonators. Crystal oscillators have become a preferred timing solution among engineers for their practicality and adaptability, but there are still systems that utilize resonators.
Let’s look at these widely used components and explore which is better for your electrical systems.
What Is a Resonator?
Resonators are low-cost, non-critical timing solutions. Generally made of high stability, piezoelectric ceramic material, resonators are found in many different product lines and industries. Some of the more recognizable products that resonators support include:
- Consumer electronics
- Communications devices
- Personal computing devices
- Exercise equipment
When connected to an oscillator circuit, the piezoelectric material that comprises resonators contains one to two electrodes that generate frequency from mechanical vibrations. When a resonator operates correctly, it provides an oscillating voltage in addition to the frequency output.
When working with resonators, the main thing to remember about placement is that they are best utilized in low-leverage situations. Higher leverage situations or highly volatile conditions require a crystal oscillator or other timing solution to achieve optimal performance.
What Is a Crystal Oscillator?
Some engineers design circuits that will endure volatile and harsh conditions, so stability from their frequency output is vital to the function of their system. Many of these engineers turn to crystal oscillators in these situations.
Crystal oscillators are made using quartz crystals, providing the frequency control engineers have come to appreciate from these components. These crystal oscillators’ consistency has pushed them past resonators and other types of oscillators in usage. The quartz crystals in these components also provide additional benefits, such as:
Crystal oscillators output a continuous frequency waveform at all times with no need for any inputs. These components can function independently of any other part or power supply.
The quartz crystals used to manufacture crystal oscillators can be shaped, cut, and manipulated into various sizes and thicknesses for different frequency outputs. Most engineers can find a relevant crystal oscillator for their system that meets its specifications. Custom options can be produced upon request.
On top of the superior timing capabilities, the crystals in the oscillator can provide an electric charge to a system through electrostriction. During electrostriction, a crystal is exposed to electricity and slightly changes shape while acquiring a minor electric license. This small charge provides energy to certain systems that need it.
Why Do Engineers Prefer Crystal Oscillators to Resonators?
As established above, crystal oscillators are the preferred timing solutions of engineers. These components have grown in usage and can now be found across many industries and products, including computers, automobiles, radios/transmitters, watches, cell phones, smart wearables, home media devices, and medical equipment.
But why have crystal oscillators surpassed resonators and other timing solutions in utility? Here are seven reasons engineers prefer crystal oscillators:
- Crystal oscillators have an easy-to-use design that allows for more plug-and-play operation.
- On average, crystal oscillators provide better quality and reliability than other timing solutions.
- Smaller packages and fewer caps allow for more flexibility in your circuit board design.
- Crystal oscillators can drive multiple loads with one component when other timing solutions require various parts to be used.
- Up to 100 times lower sensitivity to electromagnetic interference than resonators.
- Ten times lower sensitivity to vibrations. Crystal oscillators are the most stable timing solution on the market, regardless of external conditions.
- Widespread availability across all desired frequencies makes engineers worry less about lead times and delays.
Does Your System Need a Crystal Oscillator?
The benefits of crystal oscillators are well known, so many engineers are already sourcing crystal oscillators regularly for their applications. Since these components are widely manufactured and available, several options on the market will provide stability and consistency in your circuit design.
Most manufacturers allow engineers to search and purchase crystal oscillators in the most appropriate way for them. Crystal oscillators are categorized by package size, desired frequency, mounting type, and many other factors to narrow the options that will work for each system. Perform a Google search for “crystal oscillators for sale” or “crystal oscillators near me” to see what manufacturers are in your area.