Elements of Electronics

Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: DOMENICO LO PRESTI

Expected Learning Outcomes

The cut of this course is experimental and applicative.             

The specific training objectives of this course are:

  • Understanding the electrical, magnetic and optical phenomena underlying the operation of sensors in an experimental, practical and operational manner.
  • Being able to create electrical circuits and electrical, magnetic and optical devices and to carry out measurements of physical properties and technical characteristics.
  • Acquire basic knowledge of the operating principles of the equipment, general methods, and mental aptitudes useful for investigating electromagnetic and optical phenomena also different from those already proposed in the course.
  • Acquire fundamental knowledge and valuable skills for the design of new devices in the same field.
  • Acquire fundamental knowledge and valuable skills for programming simple data acquisition systems.
  • To acquire the ability to analyze experimental data correctly and to produce a scientific report describing the experiment performed, reporting its results produced by this analysis and knowing how to interpret them.
  • To acquire the ability to communicate the results of an experiment and a scientific measure in a correct, exhaustive, precise and effective manner.

Furthermore, about the so-called Dublin Descriptors, this course helps to acquire the following transversal skills:

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Capacity of inductive and deductive reasoning.
  • Ability to schematise a natural phenomenon in terms of scalar and vector physical quantities.
  • Ability to set a problem using appropriate relationships between physical quantities (of algebraic, integral or differential type) and to solve it with analytical or numerical methods.
  • Ability to assemble and develop simple experimental configurations and to use scientific instrumentation for thermomechanical and electromagnetic measurements.
  • Ability to perform statistical data analysis.

Ability to apply knowledge:

  • Ability to apply the acquired knowledge to describe physical phenomena using the scientific method with rigour.
  • Ability to design simple experiments and analyse experimental data obtained in all areas of interest of physics, including those with technological implications.

Autonomy of judgment:

  • Ability to critical reasoning.
  • Ability to identify the most appropriate methods to critically analyse, interpret and process experimental data.
  • Ability to identify the predictions of a theory or a model.
  • Ability to evaluate the accuracy of the measurements, the linearity of the instrumental responses, and the sensitivity and selectivity of the techniques used.

Communication skills:

  • Ability to present a scientific topic orally, with properties of language and terminological rigour, illustrating the reasons and results.
  • Ability to describe a scientific topic in writing, with properties of language and terminological rigor, illustrating the reasons and results.

Course Structure

The first cycle of lectures in the classroom will demonstrate the physical principles underlying the functioning of different types of sensors, simple data acquisition systems and data analysis strategies.

The final part of the course includes cycles of practical exercises and the construction of selected measurement systems, the characterisation of the sensors used through the acquisition of measurement sets and data analysis.

During the cycles of practical exercises in the Laboratory, the students practically carry out the experiments and carry out the measurements previously introduced in the Chamber.

The course, of 6 credits, therefore includes a total of 42 hours of teaching activities.

Should teaching be carried out in mixed mode or remotely, it may be necessary to introduce changes concerning previous statements in line with the programme planned and outlined in the syllabus.

Learning assessment may also be carried out online, regardless of the conditions.

Required Prerequisites

It is essential to have acquired basic knowledge of error theory and methods of data analysis.

Basic knowledge is important: mathematical analysis, electromagnetism and optics.

It is useful, and therefore strongly recommended, to have passed the exams of all the courses of General Physics.

Attendance of Lessons

Attendance in both classroom lessons and laboratory sessions is usually compulsory.

Attendance signatures are collected during lessons and laboratory practice.

Classroom lessons are typically held twice a week, 2 hours each class.

Prof. Lo Presti receives on Mondays from 10 to 11 and on Thursdays from 10 to 11; however, it is advisable to contact the teacher in advance to verify that institutional or personal commitments do not force him to postpone the reception for a specific day.

Detailed Course Content

During the first cycle of lectures, different sensors will be introduced, explaining the physical principle underlying the operation and the methods used in a sensor measurement. The concepts underlying the reading electronics of a sensor, the digitisation of signals and their subsequent storage and processing will be introduced.

In the second cycle, the student will be guided using a measurement system composed of a sensor, an acquisition system and data analysis examples for characterising the detector used.

Attendance, both in classroom lessons and laboratory sessions, is mandatory.
Attendance signatures are collected during lessons and laboratory practice.
Classroom lessons are typically held twice a week, 2 hours each class.

Textbook Information

The teacher does not follow any particular text but uses material from different texts. The slides of the lessons are usually sufficient to pass the exam.

The experiences in the laboratory are accompanied by exhaustive instruction sheets also available on the course website: Schede.

For in-depth information the student wanted to engage, the following is a selection of texts that can be consulted as they describe the methods of data analysis, some of the electrical and optical tools used in the course and the related measurement procedures.

1) Handbook of modern sensors: physics, designs and applications - Jacob Fraden, Springer edition

2) Robot sensors and transducers - S. R. Ruocco - HALSTED PRESS, John Wiley & Sons, New York - Toronto and OPEN UNIVERSITY PRESS, Milton Keynes

Jacob FradenHandbook of modern sensors: physics, designs and applicationsSpringer edition1997978-3-319-19302-1
S. R. Ruocco Robot sensors and transducers HALSTED PRESS, John Wiley & Sons, New York - Toronto and OPEN UNIVERSITY PRESS, Milton Keynes19870470208945, 9780470208946

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1Basics of analogue and digital electronics (10h)Slides, ref. 1,2
2Transducers and Actuators (4h)Slides, ref. 1,2
3Optical Sensors (4h)Slides, ref. 1,2
4Mechanical Sensors (3h)Slides, ref. 1,2
5Pressure Sensors (3h)Slides, ref. 1,2
6Temperature Sensors (4h)Slides, ref. 1,2
7Flow Sensors (3h)Slides, ref. 1,2
8Introduction to feedback systems (3h)Slides, ref. 1,2
9Examples of automated measuring systems (4h)Slides, ref. 1,2
10Overview of detection systems and associated electronics (4h)Slides, ref. 1,2


Learning Assessment Procedures

The exam includes an oral test covering all the course topics.

To pass the oral test, the student must show that they know all the topics discussed and explain them clearly and understandably to anyone with the necessary preliminary knowledge but not already know the specific topic. The vote is proportional to the degree to which these two requirements appear satisfied.

The typical duration of the oral exam ranges from 30 to 60 minutes, with an average of 40 minutes.

 The final grade takes into account the evaluation of the oral exam.


 As a rule, 8 exam sessions are fixed in each Academic Year; consult the Exam Calendar for the Bachelor's Degree Course in Physics: 


Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

The choice of topics is made exclusively by the teacher with random criteria at the time of assignment.

Some topics, by way of example, typically questioned during the oral exam are the following:

 - Describe the working principle of a pressure transducers;

 - List the criteria for th choice of a temperature sensor interface electronics;

 - Describe the main properties of a light sensors.