Browse Definitions :
Definition

oscillator

An oscillator is a mechanical or electronic device that works on the principles of oscillation: a periodic fluctuation between two things based on changes in energy. Computers, clocks, watches, radios, and metal detectors are among the many devices that use oscillators.

A clock pendulum is a simple type of mechanical oscillator. The most accurate timepiece in the world, the atomic clock, keeps time according to the oscillation within atoms. Electronic oscillators are used to generate signals in computers, wireless receivers and transmitters, and audio-frequency equipment, particularly music synthesizers. There are many types of electronic oscillators, but they all operate according to the same basic principle: an oscillator always employs a sensitive amplifier whose output is fed back to the input in phase. Thus, the signal regenerates and sustains itself. This is known as positive feedback. It is the same process that sometimes causes unwanted "howling" in public-address systems.

The frequency at which an oscillator works is usually determined by a quartz crystal. When a direct current is applied to such a crystal, it vibrates at a frequency that depends on its thickness, and on the manner in which it is cut from the original mineral rock. Some oscillators employ combinations of inductors, resistors, and/or capacitors to determine the frequency. However, the best stability (constancy of frequency) is obtained in oscillators that use quartz crystals.

In a computer, a specialized oscillator, called the clock, serves as a sort of pacemaker for the microprocessor. The clock frequency (or clock speed) is usually specified in megahertz (MHz), and is an important factor in determining the rate at which a computer can perform instructions.

This was last updated in September 2005

Continue Reading About oscillator

Join the conversation

5 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

I felt so happy by reading the matter about oscillators.
Cancel
This is helpful for me.
Cancel
Is it true that in a practical electronic oscillator, there can never be one with a perfect sinusoidal waveform as the magnitude of the waveform in a practical transistor of valve oscillator is limited by the non-linearity of the device?
Cancel
Can somebody tell how to measure oscillator?
Cancel
I want to know more about oscillators in RF range...
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

SearchCompliance

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

    The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is legislation in the state of California that supports an individual's right to ...

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

SearchSecurity

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

  • bridge

    A bridge is a class of network device that’s designed to connect networks at OSI Level 2, which is the data link layer of a ...

  • browser isolation

    Browser isolation is a cybersecurity model for web browsing that can be used to physically separate an internet user’s browsing ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • disaster recovery team

    A disaster recovery team is a group of individuals focused on planning, implementing, maintaining, auditing and testing an ...

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

  • business continuity software

    Business continuity software is an application or suite designed to make business continuity planning/business continuity ...

SearchStorage

  • business impact analysis (BIA)

    Business impact analysis (BIA) is a systematic process to determine and evaluate the potential effects of an interruption to ...

  • RAID (redundant array of independent disks)

    RAID (redundant array of independent disks) is a way of storing the same data in different places on multiple hard disks to ...

  • dedicated cloud

    A dedicated cloud is a single-tenant cloud infrastructure, which essentially acts as an isolated, single-tenant public cloud.

Close