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Diaphragm pressure sensor

Diaphragm elements are made of circular metal discs or flexible elements such as rubber, plastic or leather. The material from which the diaphragm is made depends on whether it takes advantage of the elastic nature of the material, or is opposed by another element (such as a spring). Diaphragms made of metal discs utilize elastic characteristics, while those made of flexible elements are opposed by another elastic element. These diaphragm sensors are very sensitive to rapid pressure changes. The metal type can measure a maximum pressure of approximately 7 MPa, while the elastic type is used for measuring extremely low pressures (.1 kPa - 2.2 MPa) when connected to capacitative transducers or differential pressure sensors. Examples of diaphragms include flat, corrugated and capsule diaphragms. As previously noted, diaphragms are very sensitive (0.01 MPa) . They can measure fractional pressure differences over a very minute range (say, inches of water) (elastic type) or large pressure differences (approaching a maximum range of 207 kPa) (metal type). Diaphragm elements are very versatile -- they are commonly used in very corrosive environments or with extreme over-pressure situations.

Diaphragms are popular because they require less space and because the motion (or force) they produce is sufficient for operating electronic transducers

Strain gauge pressure sensor

The strain gauge detects changes in pressure by measuring the change in resistance of a Wheatstone bridge circuit. In general, this circuit is used to determine an unknown electrical resistance by balancing two sections of a bridge circuit such that the ratio of resistances in one section ( ) is the same as that in the other section( ), resulting in a zero reading in the galvanometer in the center branch. One of the sections contains the unknown component of which the resistance is to be determined, while the other section contains a resistor of known resistance that can be varied. The Wheatstone bridge circuit is shown below:

The strain gauge places sensors on each of the resistors and measures the change in resistance of each individual resistor due to a change in pressure. Resistance is governed by the equation where = resistivity of the wire, L = length of the wire, and A = cross-sectional area of the wire. A pressure change would either elongate or compress the wire, hence a compression sensor is needed on one resistor and an elongation sensor on the other. To control the effects of temperature (a wire would also either elongate or compress with a change in temperature), a blank sensor would be placed on the remaining two resistors. These gauges are frequently a type of semiconductor (N-type or P-type). Thus, their sensitivity is much greater than their metal counterparts; however, with greater sensitivity comes a more narrow functional range: the temperature must remain constant to obtain a valid reading. These gauges are affected greatly by variations in temperature (unlike the other types of electrical components). The pressure range is 0 - 1400 MPa with a sensitivity of 1.4 3.5MPa. An example of an unbonded strain gauge is shown below. This makes use of strain-sensitive wires one end fixed to an immobile frame and the other end attached to a movable element, which moves with a change in pressure.

An example of a bonded strain gauge can be seen below. This is placed on top of a diaphragm, which deforms with change in pressure, straining the wires attached to the

diaphragm. Vibrating Element Vibrating element pressure sensors function by measuring a change in resonant frequency of a vibrating element. A current is passed through a wire which induces an electromotive force within the wire. The force is then amplified and causes oscillation of the wire. Pressure affects this mechanism by affecting the wire itself: an increase in pressure decreases the tension within the wire and thus lowers the angular frequency of oscillation of the wire. The sensor is housed in a cylinder under vacuum when measuring absolute pressures. These absolute pressure measuring sensors are very efficient: they produce repeatable results and are not affected by temperature greatly. They lack sensitivity in meausurement, though, so they would not be ideal for a process in which minute pressures need monitoring. The pressure range is 0.0035 - 0.3 MPa with a sensitivity of 1E-5 MPa.

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