Reed Relays and
Electronics India Limited
Manufacturer of Reed Switches, Reed Sensors and Reed-based products
Reed Relays and Electronics India Limited Incorporated in 1971


Biased SMD

A Bi-stable or latching type device is an electronic circuit that has two stable states. Latching type of reed contacts are bi-stable, and are actuated by one pole of a magnet and are state changed by actuation with the opposite pole. Reed Switches based latching devices are widely used in elevator floor sensing applications.

Bi-stable (Wikipedia)

In a dynamical system, bistability means the system has two stable equilibrium states. A bistable structure can be resting in either of two states. An example of a mechanical device which is bistable is a light switch. The switch lever is designed to rest in the "on" or "off" position, but not between the two. Bistable behavior can occur in mechanical linkages, electronic circuits, nonlinear optical systems, chemical reactions, and physiological and biological systems.

A graph of the potential energy of a bistable system; it has two local minima and . A surface shaped like this with two "low points" can act as a bistable system; a ball resting on the surface can only be stable at those two positions, such as balls marked "1" and "2". Between the two is a local maximum . A ball located at this point, ball 3, is in equilibrium but unstable; the slightest disturbance will cause it to move to one of the stable points.

In a conservative force field, bistability stems from the fact that the potential energy has two local minima, which are the stable equilibrium points. These rest states need not have equal potential energy. By mathematical arguments, a local maximum, an unstable equilibrium point, must lie between the two minima. At rest, a particle will be in one of the minimum equilibrium positions, because that corresponds to the state of lowest energy. The maximum can be visualized as a barrier between them.

A system can transition from one state of minimal energy to the other if it is given enough activation energy to penetrate the barrier (compare activation energy and Arrhenius equation for the chemical case). After the barrier has been reached, assuming the system has damping, it will relax into the other minimum state in a time called the relaxation time.

Bistability is widely used in digital electronics devices to store binary data. It is the essential characteristic of the flip-flop, a circuit which is a fundamental building block of computers and some types of semiconductor memory. A bistable device can store one bit of binary data, with one state representing a "0" and the other state a "1". It is also used in relaxation oscillators, multivibrators, and the Schmitt trigger. Optical bistability is an attribute of certain optical devices where two resonant transmissions states are possible and stable, dependent on the input. Bistability can also arise in biochemical systems, where it creates digital, switch-like outputs from the constituent chemical concentrations and activities. It is often associated with hysteresis in such systems.

« Back to Glossary Index