2023.08.02 - Crystal Oscillators: Your Questions Answered (FAQ)

Crystal Oscillator with electronic circuits

Crystal Oscillators: Your Questions Answered


Welcome to our Crystal Oscillator FAQ page! Here, you'll find answers to common questions about crystal oscillators and their applications. We'll cover everything from the basics of crystal oscillators to more specific topics like SMD crystals and Pierce crystal oscillators. If you're wondering about the cost of a crystal oscillator, we'll provide insights into factors that can influence pricing. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced user, this FAQ page is designed to provide valuable information and help you understand the ins and outs of crystal oscillators.

1. What are crystal oscillators?

Crystal oscillators are electronic circuits that utilize the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal, typically made from piezoelectric material, to generate an electric signal with a precise frequency. This frequency is often used in quartz wristwatches to keep time, in digital integrated circuits to provide a stable clock signal, and to stabilize frequencies for radio transmitters and receivers.

2. Why are crystal oscillators essential?

The primary reason crystal oscillators are so widely used is their ability to provide highly stable and accurate frequency signals. They remain unaffected by minor temperature shifts and other environmental changes, making them perfect for various applications, including clocks, computers, telecommunication devices, and GPS systems.

3. How do crystal oscillators function?

A crystal oscillator operates based on a property known as the Piezo-electric effect. When voltage is applied to the crystal, it vibrates at a unique frequency, its resonant frequency. This vibration produces an electrical signal equivalent to the same frequency, offering a stable timing reference.

4. What materials are found in crystal oscillators?

Quartz is the most commonly used material in crystal oscillators due to its piezoelectric properties and natural abundance. However, other materials like Rochelle salt or tourmaline can also be utilized.

5. Where are crystal oscillators applied?

Crystal oscillators find uses across various sectors. They provide a stable clock signal in digital integrated circuits, aid in celestial navigation and space tracking, and feature in measuring instruments, among other uses. You can find them on wristwatches, computers, and smartphones.

6. What does load capacitance signify in a crystal oscillator?

In a crystal oscillator, load capacitance (CL) represents the capacitance seen by a crystal or oscillator in its operating circuit. This parameter is crucial as it affects the crystal’s resonant frequency. A frequency shift can occur if the circuit’s load capacitance doesn’t align with the crystal’s specified load capacitance. Hence, ensuring that the total capacitance seen by the crystal matches the specified load capacitance when designing a circuit with a crystal oscillator is vital.

7. What are common design considerations when deciding between a crystal and an oscillator?

When choosing between a crystal and an oscillator, design considerations often include size, cost, performance, and power consumption. Crystals are typically smaller, more affordable, and consume less power than oscillators, but they need additional external circuitry to operate and might offer different performance stability levels than oscillators.

8. How does a crystal oscillator operate?

A crystal oscillator functions on the principle of inverse piezoelectric effect. When an alternating voltage is applied to a quartz crystal, it vibrates at its natural resonant frequency. This vibration generates an electrical signal with a precise frequency, which can synchronize operations in electronic devices.

9. What factors should be considered when selecting a suitable crystal oscillator for an application?

When choosing a crystal oscillator, several factors should be considered, including operating frequency, frequency stability, size, power consumption, temperature range, and cost. The specific requirements of your application will dictate which factors are most important.

10. What are the benefits of a crystal oscillator?

Crystal oscillators offer numerous advantages:

  • High Stability: They maintain a stable frequency over a wide temperature range.
  • Precision: They generate signals with a precise frequency.
  • Low Cost: Crystal oscillators are relatively inexpensive compared to many other types of oscillators.
  • Compact Size: Their small size makes them ideal for portable electronic devices.
  • Low Power Consumption: They use less power compared to some other types of oscillators.


About Harmony Electronics

Established in 1976, Harmony Electronics Corp (H.ELE.) has been manufacturing quartz crystal frequency electronic components for various applications, including crystals for cars, consumers, and industries. Our collaboration with Japan’s Daishinku Corp (KDS) has bolstered our research capabilities. Through our production sites in Taiwan, Thailand, and China, we supply crystal oscillator and resonator products with wide operating temperature ranges and focus on miniaturization trends. Our global sales team effectively communicates with customers worldwide. As a company, we are committed to corporate social responsibility and strive to provide value to our global society and customers. H.ELE. is a trusted global supplier of high-quality crystal frequency components.

For additional information, contact Harmony Electronics to discuss our crystal devices and how we can assist with your quartz frequency component needs. We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about our company, applications, and product offerings.

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