When two electrical components are interconnected, current (and energy) will flow between the two components. This will change the original (unconnected) conditions. This is known as the (electrical) loading effect, and it has to be minimized.
At the same time, adequate power and current would be needed for signal communication, conditioning, display, etc. Both situations can be accommodated through proper matching of impedances when the two components are connected. Usually an impedance matching amplifier (impedance transformer) would be needed between the two components.
From the analysis given in the preceding section, it is clear that the signal-conditioning circuitry should have a considerably large input impedance in comparison to the output impedance of the sensor-transducer unit in order to reduce loading errors. The problem is quite serious in measuring devices such as piezoelectric sensors, which have very high output impedances.
In such cases, the input impedance of the signal-conditioning unit might be inadequate to reduce loading effects; also, the output signal level of these high-impedance sensors is quite low for signal transmission, processing, actuation, and control. The solution for this problem is to introduce several stages of amplifier circuitry between the output of the first hardware unit (e.g., sensor) and the input of the second hardware unit (e.g., data acquisition unit).
The first stage of such an interfacing device is typically an impedancematching amplifier that has very high input impedance, very low output impedance, and almost unity gain.
The last stage is typically a stable high-gain amplifier stage to step up the signal level. Impedance-matching amplifiers are, in fact, operational amplifiers with feedback.
When connecting a device to a signal source, loading problems can be reduced by making sure that the device has a high input impedance. Unfortunately, this will also reduce the level (amplitude, power) of the signal received by the device.
In fact, a highimpedance device may reflect back some harmonics of the source signal.
A termination resistance may be connected in parallel with the device in order to reduce this problem. In many data acquisition systems, output impedance of the output amplifier is made equal to the transmission line impedance. When maximum power amplification is desired, conjugate matching is recommended.
In this case, input impedance and output impedance of the matching amplifier are made equal to the complex conjugates of the source impedance and the load impedance, respectively.
Impedance Matching in Mechanical Systems
The concepts of impedance matching can be extended to mechanical systems and to mixed and mechatronic systems in a straightforward manner.
The procedure follows from the familiar electro-mechanical analogies. As a specific application, consider a mechanical load driven by a motor.
Often, direct driving is not practical due to the limitations of the speedtorque characteristics of the available motors.
By including a suitable gear transmission between the motor and the load, it is possible to modify the speed-torque characteristics of the drive system as felt by the load. This is a process of impedance matching.