Piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers are power sources that provide the high voltage levels needed to drive other piezoelectric devices such as actuators, motors, transducers, and sensors. They are also used for the open-loop and closed-loop control of complete piezoelectric systems. Most piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers are sold as single-channel benchtop instruments; however, multi-channel devices and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) designs are also available. Many devices exhibit bi-directional power flow capabilities in order to provide efficient operation with minimum power loss. Battery-powered and line-powered models are commonly available.
Selecting piezoelectric devices requires an analysis of inputs, outputs, mounting styles, and approvals. Input voltage is the voltage needed to drive or operate the device. Input impedance is the equivalent impedance at the device’s input terminals. Outputs include voltage range, root mean square (RMS) current, frequency range, capacitive load, and number of channels. Frequency range is the range of input voltage frequencies that piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers are designed to operate. Capacitive load is the maximum amount that devices can drive. Rack-mounted piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers may include rail guides, flanges, or tabs. Wall-mounted units often include screws, bolts, and rails. Desktop devices are also available. In terms of approvals, some devices meet requirements from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Others have the CE mark or approvals from TÜV Rheinland/Berlin-Brandenburg.
Piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers use several types of electrical connectors. Bayonet Neil-Concelman (BNC) connectors were designed for military applications, but are used widely in video and RF applications to 2 GHz. They have a slotted outer conductor and a plastic dielectric that causes increasing losses at higher frequencies. Both 50 and 75 BNC connectors are commonly available. American wire gauge (AWG) connectors include connection points that accept two wires. A U.S. standard for non-ferrous wire conductor sizes, AWG uses the term “gauge” to refer to a wire’s diameter. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the diameter and the thinner the wire. For example, AWG 26 connectors accommodate wires that are 15.9 mils in diameter while AWG 30 connectors accept wires that are 10.0 mils in diameter. Some piezoelectric drivers and piezoelectric amplifiers use LEMOÒ connectors, push-pull devices that lock in place for demanding applications. LEMO is a trademark of LEMO S.A. Typically, LEMO connectors are marked with the LEMO name and the first five characters of the part number, which represent the model, size, and series.
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