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Concept# Integrator

Summary

An integrator in measurement and control applications is an element whose output signal is the time integral of its input signal. It accumulates the input quantity over a defined time to produce a representative output.
Integration is an important part of many engineering and scientific applications. Mechanical integrators are the oldest type and are still used for metering water flow or electrical power. Electronic analogue integrators are the basis of analog computers and charge amplifiers. Integration can also be performed by algorithms in digital computers.
See also Integrator at op amp applications and op amp integrator
An electronic integrator is a form of first-order low-pass filter, which can be performed in the continuous-time (analog) domain or approximated (simulated) in the discrete-time (digital) domain. An integrator will have a low pass filtering effect but when given an offset it will accumulate a value building it until it reaches a limit of the system or overflows.
A voltage integrator is an electronic device performing a time integration of an electric voltage, thus measuring the total volt-second product. A simple resistor–capacitor circuit acts as an integrator at high frequencies. An op amp integrator (e.g. Figure 1) works over all frequencies and provides gain (though limited by the op amp's gain–bandwidth product).
A current integrator is an electronic device performing a time integration of an electric current, thus measuring a total electric charge. A charge amplifier is an example of current integrator. A current integrator is also used to measure the electric charge on a Faraday cup in a residual gas analyzer to measure partial pressures of gasses in a vacuum. Another application of current integration is in ion beam deposition, where the measured charge directly corresponds to the number of ions deposited on a substrate, assuming the charge state of the ions is known. The two current-carrying electrical leads must to be connected to the ion source and the substrate, closing the electric circuit which in part is given by the ion beam.

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Integrator

An integrator in measurement and control applications is an element whose output signal is the time integral of its input signal. It accumulates the input quantity over a defined time to produce a representative output. Integration is an important part of many engineering and scientific applications. Mechanical integrators are the oldest type and are still used for metering water flow or electrical power. Electronic analogue integrators are the basis of analog computers and charge amplifiers.

Operational amplifier

An operational amplifier (often op amp or opamp) is a DC-coupled high-gain electronic voltage amplifier with a differential input and, usually, a single-ended output. In this configuration, an op amp produces an output potential (relative to circuit ground) that is typically 100,000 times larger than the potential difference between its input terminals. The operational amplifier traces its origin and name to analog computers, where they were used to perform mathematical operations in linear, non-linear, and frequency-dependent circuits.

Analog computer

An analog computer or analogue computer is a type of computer that uses the continuous variation aspect of physical phenomena such as electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic quantities (analog signals) to model the problem being solved. In contrast, digital computers represent varying quantities symbolically and by discrete values of both time and amplitude (digital signals). Analog computers can have a very wide range of complexity.

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