A photoelectric sensor, or photoeye, is a device used to detect the distance, absence, or presence of an object by using a light transmitter, often infrared, and a photoelectronic receiver. They are used extensively in industrial manufacturing. There are three different functional types: opposed (a.k.a. through beam), retroreflective, and proximity-sensing.
A self-contained photoelectric sensor contains the optics, along with the electronics. It requires only a power source. The sensor performs its own modulation, demodulation, amplification, and output switching. Some self-contained sensors provide such options as built-in control timers or counters. Because of technological progress, self-contained photoelectric sensors have become increasingly smaller. Remote photoelectric sensors used for remote sensing contain only the optical components of a sensor. The circuitry for power input, amplification, and output switching are located elsewhere, typically in a control panel. This allows the sensor, itself, to be very small. Also, the controls for the sensor are more accessible, since they may be bigger. When space is restricted or the environment too hostile even for remote sensors, fiber optics may be used. Fiber optics are passive mechanical sensing components. They may be used with either remote or self-contained sensors. They have no electrical circuitry and no moving parts, and can safely pipe light into and out of hostile environments
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