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Crystal circuit board ? Answered

Can crystals ( quartz, ruby , amethyst, etc.)  be used in technology to amplify power? keep power sustained, renew power or something ? 


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Jack A Lopez
Jack A Lopez

7 years ago

My best guess is that property you are thinking of is resonance.

That is the essential property of crystals used in electronics, in a crystal oscillator, and how that works is explained somewhat generally here:
with a more specific example here:

Note that the crystal in such an oscillator is NOT a source of power, nor the "power of a source",  despite Hollywood language to that effect, including that one by Jim Henson,
or even that song by Crystal Method,
containing samples from the same movie.

Real literal power is supplied unto electronic circuits by things like batteries,  or those whatchacallit,  electrical outlets,
in the walls of your home, and of course those are supplied with power by something else, like a power plant, or the fires of Mount Doom in the land of Mordor, or wherever it is that alkaline batteries come from.

The crystal is there to provide resonance, so the circuit may oscillate at at predictable, fixed frequency.  The crystal is NOT a source of literal electrical power.  Sorry if any of this seems obvious or condescending.

The rest of the short answer is there are all sorts of physical systems that exhibit resonance of some kind, including tuning forks, bells, whistles, masses on springs, an inductor and capacitor together, individual atoms, and even empty space itself, in the case of a resonant cavity like those found in the magnetron tube of a microwave oven.  It's not just crystals.

The longer answer begins with me trying to give a simple explanation of resonance.

Resonance is the tendency of something to vibrate more easily at a particular frequency than it does at other frequencies.  For example if you hit a bell, or a tuning fork, with a hammer, (doing this gently so as to not break the bell or tuning fork) it will start "ringing" at its resonant frequency.  In terms of energy, what is happening is the hammer puts energy into the system, and then the system chooses to dissipate that energy by moving in certain way, i.e. by vibrating at its so-called resonant frequency.

If you have actually tried this, you've probably noticed that the bell, or tuning fork, or plucked string, or whatever, does not keep ringing at the same intensity forever.  The ringing is loud at first, but it gets more and more quiet as time passes, until the sound is no longer audible.  The explanation for this decrease in amplitude being simply that energy is escaping from the system, and eventually it runs out.

So perhaps you are asking:  How to hit a tuning fork, and have it keep ringing forever?

At least this is my strained interpretation of what you are trying to say with the words, "to amplify power? keep power sustained, renew power or something?"

It can be done. I mean something analogous to a tuning fork that just keeps ringing, or if you like, even an actual powered tuning fork set up to just keep ringing. 

But first I have to say something about your um, choice of words.  To me the really scary part is the phrase "to amplify power".

If instead you had written that you want to "power an amplifier", then you might have  fooled into thinking you were one of us, i.e. someone who believes in real physics, like the kind described in physics textbooks, or in the Wikipedia articles I keep linking to.  But "to amplify power"?  That language kind of says you're living in the world of Hollywood magic rainbow pony physics. Plus the question is about "crystals".  Crystals, man. Crystals.

BTW, if you're down for some serious condescension, you should check out that video where Richard Feynman takes like 10 minutes to explain to you why he can't explain to you how magnets work.

So what is the difference between "amplify power" and "power an amplifier"?  Why does it seem to me like "to amplify power" is something the Sword of Greyskull does, and "to power an amplifier" is something a real engineer might say or write?   Should I actually answer that question?  Or just leave it like a Zen koan, which if understood, will bring you closer to enlightenment?

"To power an amplifier" sounds like honest physics, but "to amplify power" sounds kooky.  Why is this so Grasshopper?

I'll leave that for you to ponder.  Back to that tuning fork that won't stop ringing.  Can I actually build one of those in the lab?

The central problem is that the ringing tuning fork keeps dissipating energy, and there is not really any easy way to stop it from doing that.  Hit it once, and it sounds like:

Energy is continuously being lost.  But what if I could simultaneously put energy into the fork from some other source, at exactly  the same rate it is being lost.

The naive way to do this, is by periodically hitting it with the hammer. For example I could build a mechanical arm that hits the tuning fork with the hammer once every second, and it would sound like this:

"bing.bing.bing.bing.bing.bing.bing.bing.bing. ..."

I keep supplying energy to the system, and the sound never really stops, but it's not really the sound I want.

The sound I want is:


a pure tone, with constant intensity.

There are a couple of requirements needed to pull this off. One is that I must supply energy at a constant rate; i.e. constant power, exactly equal to the power dissipated by the tuning fork. The other, much harder requirement, is that my power source has to make a sound identical to that made by tuning fork I mean the resonator and the signal I am using to drive it, to put power back, these two signals must be the same frequency, and they must be in phase with one another.

I claim this trick of making a drive signal just like the original, can be accomplished using an almost magical device called an amplifier,
as part of the feedback loop,
just like that Wikipedia article titled "Electronic oscillator" says that it can.

That's the usual story for explaining electronic oscillators.

The story for continuous oscillators like LASERS and other []ASERS
is similar but a little more mysterious because the somehow the amplifier part, and the resonator part, are mixed together in one continuous medium, and microscopically the medium just looks like a giant population of resonators; i.e the individual atoms of the semiconductor, or gas, lasing medium.

It's sort of like you've got a whole football stadium full of tuning forks, and somehow they all ring together with one tone.  The (S)timulated (E)mission part of the acronym is the usual explanation for how they all stay in phase with one another, but I've never totally understood the A(mplification) part. Power is always flowing into the system. It has to in order for power to flow out.  In the case of the football stadium, you could imagine the power is supplied by monkeys with hammers, one monkey to each seat, with one hammer and one tuning fork.  Yet somehow you don't ever hear the sound of the monkeys or the hammer blows.  All you hear is just one deafening pure tone. 


Answer 7 years ago

Read and Understood.

Always a grand orator of the Actual World may your tribe increase.


The Skinnerz
The Skinnerz

7 years ago

Diamond can be used to make transistors, which are the basis of amplifiers. However, you must remember that according to the current understanding of physics, you cannot get more energy out of a system than you put in.

You may also be interested to see how quartz crystals are used as precise oscillators in electronic systems, or how ruby is used to amplify light in some types of laser.


7 years ago

Unless you know better, no.



Answer 7 years ago

Sure. In the movies.


Answer 7 years ago

"or something" -- they can definitely do lots of "or something", amplifying power however, not so much.