What are the types of transducer in biological systems?


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Abi Ainscough answered
Though transducers are more commonly used in physics, they can be used within biological systems. There are two types of transducer: The input transducer, or the 'sensor', and the output transducer, or 'actuator'.

  • What is a transducer?

A transducer is a device capable of turning one energy form into another and is used within measuring systems. The six types of energy sources that transducers work with are: Thermal, radiant, mechanical, electrical, chemical and magnetic.

  • Input and output transducers.

The input transducer senses exactly how much physical quantity is needed and then converts this into another form of energy.
The output transducer ensures the energy is converted into a form that another system, independent of its own, can understand and react to. Within biological systems, the output transducer could be a numerical display on an alarm clock which visual senses can react to.

  • Energy sources and input transducers.

Technical systems can easily work with all six of the aforementioned energy sources but with biological systems, the process can be much more complex.
Thermal energy is associated with oxidation. Radiant energy is produced through infrared radiation and is not visible to the naked eye, so thermographic cameras must be used. Mechanical energy occurs in biological systems as a result of liquid pressure within vessels and/or movements. Electrical energy is associated with the muscles of the heart. Chemicals are present throughout the entire organism. Magnetic energy is caused by muscles in the heart and also through brain activity.

  • Energy sources and output transducers.

The output of a biological system will encounter the same six energy sources but different methods will be used in order to react to them.

Thermal energy influences the speed of biological movement and growth. The sense of vision is what reacts to radiant energy. Biological systems can react to any mechanical force. Muscles will obviously react to electrical pulses and can even independently produce electrical energy with no artificial aid. An example of chemical output is medicine which can obviously have substantial impact upon biological systems.  Magnetic changes can produce a biological change of tissues and even basic cell structure, consequently changing the entire content of the information.

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