quartz clock

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A clock based on a piezoelectric crystal of quartz (see piezoelectric effect). Each quartz crystal has a natural frequency of vibration, which depends on its size and shape. If such a crystal is introduced into an oscillating electronic circuit that resonates at a frequency very close to that of the natural frequency of the crystal, the whole circuit (including the crystal) will oscillate at the crystal's natural frequency and the frequency will remain constant over considerable periods (a good crystal will maintain oscillation for a year with an accumulated error of less than 0.1 second). In a quartz clock or watch the alternating current from the oscillating circuit containing such a crystal is amplified and the frequency subdivided until it is suitable to drive a synchronous motor, which in turn drives a gear train to operate hands. Alternatively it is used to activate a digital display.

Subjects: Physics.

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