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What Is a Current to Voltage Converter?

A resistor is an electronic component that can lower a circuit’s voltage and its flow of electrical current.
As the power source of a car battery is in the form of a current, often times, it must be converted.
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  • Written By: Jean Marie Asta
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 17 December 2014
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A current to voltage converter is a form of circuit that, as the name suggests, receives a current in Amperes and converts it to the corresponding amount of voltage. These converters use a resistor to keep the amount of energy produced consistent, which is preferable to using currents as their flow varies. Running a device on voltage generally consumes less power than the same operation using current. Very few electrical devices run on currents, so if the power source is in the form of a current, such as the power from a car battery, conversion is often required.

There are two main kinds of current to voltage converters — passive and active. A passive current to voltage converter is the simpler kind and is generally not usable in real-world environments. In an ideal environment it would be possible to maintain constant current and no energy would be lost during the process of conversion, but since this is impossible, an active converter will work better. An active current to voltage converter adds operational amplifiers (op-amp) to the circuit, providing enough added power to make the converter functional in a real-world setting.

Once the current has been converted to voltage, and has been increased with the op-amp, the voltage can then be used to supply power to whatever electronic device is needed. A resistor is usually added to decrease the amount of electricity that passes through the circuit to precisely the amount required by the device.This prevents the circuit from overloading.

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A recent invention called the switched capacitor voltage converter lets currents be converted to voltage without using resistors to maintain the amount of electricity that goes through the circuit. These use capacitors in order to control even more finely the amount of resistance applied to the voltage. They are also smaller and can be put on smaller circuit boards.

Since many scientific instruments use current as the unit of measure for the input signal, a current to voltage converter is also commonly used in laboratories. In particular, these instruments are used in lab situations that involve the testing and design of many types of instruments. Most of these converters only test and maintain machines used in lab or industrial settings, but there are some common versions in everyday use. They are used in the testing and maintenance of controls and safety features of vehicles such as cars and airplanes. The electronic parts of a car also use converters.

The need for a good current to voltage converter is likely to grow in the future. Requirements for safety testing mechanics and the need for electronic features on modern vehicles ensure a constant demand and use for current to voltage converters. Their use in academic and industrial fields will likely remain high and probably increase due to new technological advances.

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