As a young naughty kid, I always used to get fascinated by all crazy engineered things and i used to stop only when i had opened them for not to be fixed back again. 😉 One time i broke our wall clock by opening it, only to be never functioning again. Another time it was TV’s remote control. Next was those hand held game with 9999 in 1 brick games console I had. And of-course I never admitted on doing those things ;). But recently my curiosity went towards the Clocks and time-keeping devices. I wonder what keeps these timer running. Does it have some chip with some program running? Then I found out the secret lies in its name! The QUARTZ Clock. BTW even I thought Quartz was a brand name. 😛 Well, this post is about the working of quartz clock. Lets unroll the secret scroll. As Wikipedia says, “A quartz clock is a clock that uses an electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time.” Yes there is a quartz crystal resonator just like a fork that creates these oscillations. Now my curiosity was why Quartz? Why not some other material?
Chemically, quartz is a compound called silicon dioxide. Many materials can be formed into plates that will resonate. However, quartz is also a piezoelectric material: that is, when a quartz crystal is subject to mechanical stress, such as bending, it accumulates electrical charge across some planes. In a reverse effect, if charges are placed across the crystal plane, quartz crystals will bend. Since quartz can be directly driven (to flex) by an electric signal, no additional speaker or microphone is required to use it in a resonator. Source: Wikipedia.org
Lets have a deeper look at what we meant to say here. On unscrewing a wrist watch, It should look something like this: [Image Source: Wikipedia] The cylindrical silver container(with some script K0S6M) that you see, lies the heart of this clock. Inside this lies a small quartz crystal which is responsible for the resonate motion. Its vibration is then responsible for rotation of the clock hands. However the actual cause of vibration of this quartz is due to the battery which produces electric current connected to it(Can you spot the circular battery with markings GP364). This happens by the phenomenon called reverse Piezoelectric effect. Basically due to the voltage of battery, the quartz is resonates. Well Quite the physics! However still more interesting is the engineering involved in creating the tiny quartz tuning forks. These crystals are made with such a perfect accuracy that they must have frequency 32,768 +/- 0.06 error. That’s like real perfection!
[Tuning fork crystal used in a modern quartz watch.[Source: Wikipedia]] Keep innovating!!!