Explanation of 'Sensors'


A sensor is a type of transducer. Direct-indicating sensors, for example, a mercury thermometer, are human-readable. Other sensors, such as a thermocouple, only produce an output voltage or other electrical output which must be interpreted by another device (such as a computer). Most sensors are electrical or electronic, although other types exist.

Sensors are used in everyday objects such as touch-sensitive elevator buttons and lamps which dim or brighten by touching the base. There are also innumerable applications for sensors of which most people are never aware. Applications include automobiles, machines, aerospace, medicine, industry, and robotics.

A sensor's sensitivity indicates how much the sensor's output changes when the measured quantity changes. For instance, if the mercury in a thermometer moves 1cm when the temperature changes by 1°, the sensitivity is 1cm/1°. Sensors that measure very small changes must have very high sensitivities.

Technological progress allows more and more sensors to be manufactured on a microscopic scale as microsensors using MEMS technology. In most cases, a microsensor reaches a significantly higher speed and sensitivity compared with macroscopic approaches

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