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Important Things to Know about Optical Sensors

Optical sensors transform light rays into electronic signals. They are designed to measure light’s physical quantity. Optical sensors are used for detecting the presence of objects as well as count or position parts. The increase in the number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices results in the increased need for customized optoelectronic sensor solutions.

Kinds of Optical Sensors

Optical sensors have many types depending on the optical application. They include the following:

  • Through-beam sensors. In these sensors, the transmitter and receiver are placed opposite to each other. The transmitter is the part that transmits a light beam onto the receiver. The receiver interprets the light beam interruption as a switch signal. With these sensors, recognition does not depend on the color, reflectivity, or surface structure of the object.
  • Diffuse reflection sensors. In these sensors the transmitter and receiver are placed in one house. The objected being detected transmits light. The receiver’s diffused light intensity serves as the switch condition. No matter the sensitivity setting, the rear part tends to reflect better than the front part.
  • Retro-reflective sensors. In these sensors, the transmitter and receiver are also placed in one house. Switching operation is initiated when the light beam is interrupted. These sensors make it possible to detect big operating distances with switching points. They detect all objects that interrupt the light beam regardless of their color or surface structure.

Higher-Level Sensor Assemblies

Optical sensor requirements vary and some go beyond the simple need of a detector and emitter. Some applications require multiple sensors and emitters. Others may need passive and active components or mechanical components. Usually, this requires the placement of several components on a common PCB. This PCB is likely to require extra wiring and connectors. Higher-level sensor assemblies can take on a lot of forms dictated by what an application requires around performance, size, and functionality.

Optical Sensor Applications

Optical sensor applications range from computers to motion detectors. These sensors can work effectively for the correct kind of application. Optical sensors are important parts of a lot of common devices such as copy machines, computers, and light fixtures. They are used in systems that detect the presence of objects, in synchros for photographic flashes, and in alarm systems. Ambient light sensors can be found on mobile handsets. They extend the device’s battery life and enable displays that are easy to view and optimized for the environment.

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