What Does Oscillator Mean?

An oscillator is an electronic or mechanical device that produces regular oscillations in the form of electrical or mechanical energy. Modern-day computers, clocks, metal detectors, watches and microcontrollers all utilize oscillators. An atomic clock operates on atomic oscillations, and thus is said to be the most precise chronometer in the world. An oscillator works on the frequency that is determined by quartz crystal.


Techopedia Explains Oscillator

Oscillators in electronics are used in wireless transmitters and receivers to generate and collect real-time signals. They are also used in music synthesizers for operations and manipulations of audio frequency. Whether electronic or mechanical, all oscillators have one common principle of operation: a very sensitive amplifier is employed whose output is fed back to the input terminal, forming a positive feedback loop system. This way the signal is regenerated from its previous state, hence sustaining itself. Various oscillators employ combinational circuits with capacitors, inductors and resistors in order to achieve a certain frequency. Clocks associated with microcontrollers and processing units of computers have a frequency range of megahertz (MHz).


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.