Articles

Sensor Interface Design Demystified

With the rapid expansion of available sensor elements driven by the growth of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) sensors, the considerations of sensor interface design become ever more important. The design engineer needs to understand both the sensor as well as the application in order to make the proper design tradeoffs in this already tricky art of analog front-end design. The challenge is further compounded with the trend toward MEMS technologies and their inherently smaller signals. This article attempts to cover some of the basics of sensor interface design and gives a cursory overview of the challenges and trade-offs of the possible approaches. It’s Not Just a Resistor Fundamentally, every sensor can be modeled as a simpler component, albeit a component with a value that changes over time. Usually this means we can treat them as either a simple passive impedance, such as a resistance, capacitance, or inductance, or as an active source, such as a current or voltage source. As these values change with time, we need to be able to convert that change into a time-varying voltage. Furthermore, we need to maintain the linearity of the sensor while we do this.

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Sponsors,“Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

The Emhart Innovation Center: Tomorrow’s Fastening Design Technology Today In today’s competitive marketplace, manufacturers need suppliers who not only deliver the parts required to build a product, but those who deliver support and consultation on how best to use those parts. Emhart Teknologies is in the business of delivering that support. The company offers their customers access to a global network of what it calls “Innovation Centers.” These engineering facilities provide the latest in R&D for fastening design and automated fastening systems, delivering value analysis to a large cross-section of industrial manufacturers.

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Meet the Judges, “Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

Emhart Teknologies and NASA Tech Briefs thank the following judges for their participation:

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Merit Prize Winners, “Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

Winners of Black & Decker power tools

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Second Prize Winners, “Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

Winners of DeWalt Power Tool Combination Kits

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First Prize Winner, “Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

Grip Handle Buck AlbrittonWinner of a Panasonic 42" plasma TV Designed by: Buck Albritton GearMax Ashland, VA

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Grand Prize Winner, “Create the Future” 2006 Design Contest

Integrated Motor/Pump David A. TorreyWinner of a hybrid automobile or $20,000 Designed by:David A. Torrey, Ph.D., P.E. Advanced Energy Conversion LLC Malta, NY There is tremendous interest today in reducing the parasitic losses in engineered vehicle systems in order to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. This is particularly true in mobile systems, where efficiency improvements are directly translated into reduced size, reduced weight, increased range, and simplified logistics. Advanced Energy Conversion (AEC) has developed a highly integrated fluid pump that can be an important element in advancing the state of the art in fluid handling for high-performance applications.

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