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What are an Optical Sensor and an Optical Switch?

An optical sensor converts light rays into electronic signals. It measures the physical quantity of light and then translates it into a form that is readable by an instrument. An optical sensor is generally part of a larger system that integrates a source of light, a measuring device and the optical sensor. This is often connected to an electrical trigger. The trigger reacts to a change in the signal within the light sensor. An optical sensor can measure the changes from one or several light beams. When a change occurs, the light sensor operates as a photoelectric trigger and therefore either increases or decreases the electrical output.

An optical switch enables signals in optical fibres or integrated optical circuits to be switched selectively from one circuit to another. An optical switch can operate by mechanical means or by electro-optic effects, magneto-optic effects as well as by other methods. Optical switches are optoelectronic devices which can be integrated with integrated or discrete microelectronic circuits.

Types of Optical Sensors & Switches

There are many different kinds of optical sensors & switches and at Future Electronics we stock many of the most common types categorized by type, wavelength, forward (drive) current, range, power dissipation, packaging type and maximum CE voltage. The parametric filters on our website can help refine your search results depending on the required specifications.

The most common sizes for wavelength are 640 nm, 700 nm, 800 nm, 940 nm and 950 nm. The maximum CE voltage can range from 5 V to 70 V, with the most common optical sensor & switch chips having a maximum CE voltage of 30 V.

Optical Sensors & Switches from Future Electronics

Future Electronics has a full selection of optical sensors & switches from several manufacturers that can be used for a digital optical switch, MEMS optical switch, optical proximity sensor, HDMI optical switch, reflective optical sensor, optical position sensor, 1x2 optical switch, high speed optical switch or any other optical sensor & switch circuit. Simply choose from the optical sensor & switch technical attributes below and your search results will quickly be narrowed to match your specific optical sensor & switch application needs.

If you have a preferred brand, we deal with several manufacturers such as AMS, Fairchild, Optek, ROHM Semiconductor or Sharp, among other manufacturers. You can easily refine your optical sensor & switch product search results by clicking your preferred optical sensor & switch brand below from our list of manufacturers.

Applications for Optical Sensors & Switches:

Optical sensors can be found in the energy field to monitor structures that generate, produce, distribute, and convert electrical power. The distributed and nonconductive nature of optical fibres makes optical sensors perfect for oil and gas applications, including pipeline monitoring. They can also be found in wind turbine blade monitoring, offshore platform monitoring, power line monitoring and downhole monitoring. Other applications include the civil and transportation fields such as bridge, airport landing strip, dam, railway, airplane, wing, fuel tank and ship hull monitoring.

Among other applications, optical switches can be found in thermal methods which vary the refraction index in one leg of an interferometer in order to switch the signal, MEMS approaches involving arrays of micromirrors that can deflect an optical signal to the appropriate receiver, piezoelectric beam steering liquid crystals which rotate polarized light depending on the applied electric field and acousto-optic methods which change the refraction index as a result of strain induced by an acoustic field to deflect light.

Choosing the Right Optical Sensor & Switch:

When you are looking for the right optical sensors & switches, with the FutureElectronics.com parametric search, you can filter the results by various attributes: by Range (450 to 1120 nm, 1.2 m, 1.18 m, …), Wavelength (635 nm, 940 nm, 950 nm,…) and Power Dissipation (from 0.75 mW to 100 W) to name a few. You will be able to find the right chip for your optical sensor & switch circuit such as an optical proximity sensor, digital optical switch, MEMS optical switch, HDMI optical switch, 1x2 optical switch, high speed optical switch, reflective optical sensor or optical position sensor.

Optical Sensors & Switches in Production Ready Packaging or R&D Quantities

If the quantity of optical sensors & switches required is less than a full reel, we offer customers many of our optical sensor & switch products in tube, tray or individual quantities that will avoid unneeded surplus.

In addition, Future Electronics offers clients a unique bonded inventory program that is designed to eliminate potential problems that could arise from an unpredictable supply of products containing raw metals and products with long or erratic lead times. Talk with your nearest Future Electronics branch and find out more on how you and your company can avoid possible shortages.



Featured Optical Sensor & Switch Products


Manufacturer Part Number Description
AMS TSL257-LF TSL257 Series 35 dB at 1 kHz 5.5 V 3.5 mA Light-to-Voltage Converter - 3 Pin
AMS TSL1401R-LF Linear Sensor Array 8 MHz 5v
AMS TSL25711FN TSL25771 Series 850 nm Light to Digital Converter w/ Proximity Sensing - 3 Pin
AMS TCS3200D-TR TSL3200 Series 5.5 V Programmable Color Light-To-Frequency Converter - SOIC-8
AMS TCS3104FN Color Sensor
AMS TSL25711FN TSL25711 Series 850 nm Light to Digital Converter w/ Proximity Sensing - 3 Pin
AMS TSL1401R-LF TSL1401 Series 8 MHz 5 V 400 DPI 128 X 1 Linear Sensor Array w/ Hold
Fairchild QRD1114 QRD1114 Series 30 V 50 mA Phototransistor Reflective Object Sensor
Fairchild QRE1113GR QRE1113 Series 30 V 50 mA Miniature Reflective Object Sensor - SMD-4
Optek OPB701ALZ 890 nm 50 mA 15 V Reflective Switch Darlington Reflective Object Sensor
Optek OPB855 935 nm 30 mA 5 V NPN Silicon Phototransistor Slotted Optical Switch
Optek OPB993L11Z 40 mA 1.7 Vf 1.27 mm Gap Open Collector Slotted Optical Switch
Optek OPB991T51Z 40 mA 1.7 Vf 1.27 mm Gap Open Collector Slotted Optical Switch
Optek OPB970T11 Slotted Optical Switch Photologic
Optek OPB822S Slotted Optical SwitchDual Channel
Optek OPB963N51 40 mA 1.7 Vf Transmissive Photologic Slotted Optical Switch
Optek OP950 Photodiode Lateral
Optek OPB815WZ 890 nm 50 mA 30 V Deep Gap Slotted Switch with Wire and Connector Option
Optek OPB960N51 40 mA 1.7 Vf Transmissive Photologic Slotted Optical Switch
Optek OP598B Photo transistor Plastic TO-18
Optek OPB870N55 890 nm 50 mA 50 V No Mounting Tab Slotted Optical Switch
ROHM Semiconductor RPI-352 Small 50 mA 30 V 800 nm Through Hole 3 mm Gap Photointerrupter
ROHM Semiconductor RPI-243 Small 50 mA 30 V 800 nm Through Hole 2 mm Gap Photointerrupter
Sharp GP1S092HCPIF GP1S Series 2 mm 1.2 V 150 us Compact Transmissive Photointerrupter
Sharp GP2S60 GP2S Series 0.5 mm 930 nm 35 V 50 mA SMT Compact Reflective Photointerrupter

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