Modern industrial plants no longer run without sensors these days. For industry and in the context of Industry 4.0, they are indispensable and take on an increasingly important role, even if they often seem so inconspicuous. But it is not only industry that uses sensors. Our everyday lives are also surrounded by them. For example, we also find them in smoke detectors, doors, smartphones and cars. This article shows everything worth knowing about sensors.
What is a sensor?
A sensor is capable of measuring various chemical or physical properties. It is a technical component which is also referred to as a “measured value transducer”. The sensor records an actual value and then forwards it for data processing. The data is then processed either by software or a person. However, a sensor never works alone, but is first a component of a control loop. All sensors permanently compare the actual value with a target value. If deviations occur, the system will initiate appropriate measures. In a machine, this can lead to the sensor causing a compensation, an alarm or even the machine being switched off. The stages in which this occurs must be stored as a rule in the system’s software.
What sensor types are there?
In modern sensor technology, almost anything can be measured using sensors. Research is always going on, but already today sensors do an amazing job. There are different sensors for each type of measurement. For example, sensors can measure force, volume, light, speed, acoustics, location and climate. A classic example of a sensor in the home is a weather station that can measure temperature, pressure and humidity. There are also sensors that react to chemical processes. These include, for example, the smoke detector, which reacts in the presence of carbon dioxide.
Functionality of a sensor
In fact, the construction of a sensor nowadays is no longer witchcraft. Modern sensors are even capable of recording several different measured values at the same time. Most sensors work according to an electromagnetic principle. Here, a coil is charged with a magnetic field under a specified voltage. The disturbance of this magnetic field is the influence so that a signal is returned to the control unit. Proximity sensors, acceleration sensors, force sensors and level sensors, for example, work according to this principle.
High-tech in sensor technology
Zu den absoluten High-Tech Sensoren gehören die Funk- und Radarsensoren. Sie sind das nächste Level in der Sensorik, da sie deutlich komplexer aufgebaut sind als die elektromagnetischen Messwertaufnehmer. Früher waren diese Sensoren sehr teuer. Durch die hohe Abnahme sind die Preise in den letzten Jahren deutlich gefallen. Das führte dazu, dass nun fast jedes Auto mit Abstandssensoren ausgestattet ist und teilweise sogar von allein einparken kann.
Click on Biacore Sensor Chips to learn more about how sensors are used in biotechnology!
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