A crystal oscillator is an electronic oscillator circuit that uses the mechanical resonance of a vibrating crystal of piezoelectric material to create an electrical signal with a precise frequency. This frequency is commonly used to keep track of time, as in quartz wristwatches, to provide a stable clock signal for digital integrated circuits, and to stabilize frequencies for radio transmitters and receivers. The most common type of piezoelectric resonator used is the quartz crystal, so oscillator circuits incorporating them became known as crystal oscillators, but other piezoelectric materials including polycrystalline ceramics are used in similar circuits.
Quartz crystals are manufactured for frequencies from a few tens of kilohertz to hundreds of megahertz. More than two billion crystals are manufactured annually. Most are used for consumer devices such as wristwatches, clocks, radios, computers, and cellphones. Quartz crystals are also found inside test and measurement equipment, such as counters, signal generators, and oscilloscopes.