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, see Sensor (disambiguation). "Sensors" redirects here. For other uses, see Sensors (disambiguation). "Detector" redirects here. For other uses, see Detector (disambiguation). This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations where appropriate. (March 2009)

Thermocouple sensor for high temperature measurementA sensor is a device that measures a physical quantity and converts it into a signal which can be read by an observer or by an instrument. For example, a mercury-in-glass thermometer converts the measured temperature into expansion and contraction of a liquid which can be read on a calibrated glass tube. A thermocouple converts temperature to an output voltage which can be read by a voltmeter. For accuracy, most sensors are calibrated against known standards.

Contents [hide] 1 Use 2 Classification of measurement errors 2.1 Sensor deviations 2.2 Resolution 3 Types 4 Sensors in Nature 5 Biosensor 6 See also 7 References 8 External links

In most cases. if a sensor measures temperature and has a voltage output. Sensors also have an impact on what they measure. the sensitivity is a constant with the unit [V/K]. manufacturing and robotics. [edit] Classification of measurement errors A good sensor obeys the following rules: Is sensitive to the measured property Is insensitive to any other property likely to be encountered in its application Does not influence the measured property Ideal sensors are designed to be linear or linear to some simple mathematical fuction of the measurement. a microsensor reaches a significantly higher speed and sensitivity compared with macroscopic approaches. A sensor differs from a transducer in the way that a transducer converts one form of energy into other form whereas a sensor converts the received signal into electrical form only. a room temperature thermometer inserted into a hot cup of liquid cools the liquid while the liquid heats the thermometer.[edit] Use Sensors are used in everyday objects such as touch-sensitive elevator buttons (tactile sensor) and lamps which dim or brighten by touching the base. aerospace. . The output signal of such a sensor is linearly proportional to the value or simple function of the measured property. machines. The sensitivity is then defined as the ratio between output signal and measured property. Sensors need to be designed to have a small effect on what is measured. if the mercury in a thermometer moves 1 cm when the temperature changes by 1 °C. this sensor is linear because the ratio is constant at all points of measurement. For example. the sensitivity is 1 cm/°C. Technological progress allows more and more sensors to be manufactured on a microscopic scale as microsensors using MEMS technology. making the sensor smaller often improves this and may introduce other advantages. Here. There are also innumerable applications for sensors of which most people are never aware. Applications include cars. Sensors that measure very small changes must have very high sensitivities. medicine. typically logarithmic. A sensor is a device which receives and responds to a signal or stimulus. A sensor's sensitivity indicates how much the sensor's output changes when the measured quantity changes. for instance. sensor can be defined as a device which receives a signal and converts it into electrical form which can be further used for electronic devices. For instance. Hence. the term "stimulus" means a property or a quantity that needs to be converted into electrical form.

If the signal is monitored digitally. this is called nonlinearity. this behaviour is described with a bode plot showing sensitivity error and phase shift as function of the frequency of a periodic input signal. this is defined as drift (telecommunication). This is defined as the output of the sensor at zero input. Usually this is defined by the amount the output differs from ideal behavior over the full range of the sensor. If the deviation is caused by a rapid change of the measured property over time. the output signal will eventually reach a minimum or maximum when the measured property exceeds the limits. but the sensor is still linear. most sensors are influenced by the temperature of their environment. the output is essentially an approximation of the measured property. If the sensor has a digital output. the sensor has an offset or bias. limitation of the sampling frequency also can cause a dynamic error. This is called a sensitivity error. Hysteresis is an error caused by when the measured property reverses direction. several types of deviations can be observed: The sensitivity may in practice differ from the value specified. The approximation error is also called digitization error. creating a different offset error in one direction than in the other. but there is some finite lag in time for the sensor to respond. there is a dynamic error. often noted as a percentage of the full range. Systematic errors can sometimes be compensated for by means of some kind of calibration strategy. If the sensitivity is not constant over the range of the sensor. All these deviations can be classified as systematic errors or random errors. Long term drift usually indicates a slow degradation of sensor properties over a long period of time. The full scale range defines the maximum and minimum values of the measured property. Often. If the output signal is not zero when the measured property is zero. or if the variable or added noise noise changes periodically at a frequency near a multiple of the sampling rate may induce aliasing errors. Noise is a random . If the output signal slowly changes independent of the measured property. Noise is a random deviation of the signal that varies in time. Since the range of the output signal is always limited.[edit] Sensor deviations If the sensor is not ideal. The sensor may to some extent be sensitive to properties other than the property being measured. For example.

magnetic fields. and cytokines Differences between proteins of the organism itself and of the environment or alien creatures [edit] Biosensor Main article: biosensor In biomedicine and biotechnology. are called biosensors. temperature. The resolution is related to the precision with which the measurement is made. such as hormones. [edit] Resolution The resolution of a sensor is the smallest change it can detect in the quantity that it is measuring. even organic (=carbon chemistry). nucleic acid or biomimetic polymers. indicating that changes of that magnitude are only just resolved. for biological analytes is referred to as sensor or nanosensor (such a microcantilevers). and other physical aspects of the external environment Physical aspects of the internal environment. motion. sound. humidity. such as cells. pressure. such as filtering. the least significant digit will fluctuate. Whereas a nonbiological sensor. This terminology applies for both in vitro and in vivo . usually at the expense of the dynamic behaviour of the sensor. oxygen level. and position of appendages (proprioception) Environmental molecules. neurotransmitters. a scanning tunneling probe (a fine tip near a surface collects an electron tunnelling current) can resolve atoms and molecules. sensors which detect analytes thanks to a biological component. protein. For example. such as glucose level. vibration. Most of these are specialized cells that are sensitive to: Light. electrical fields. Often in a digital display.error that can be reduced by signal processing. motion of the organism. gravity. [edit] Types Main article: List of sensors [edit] Sensors in Nature Further information: Sense All living organisms contain biological sensors with functions similar to those of the mechanical devices described. such as stretch. including toxins. nutrients. and pheromones Estimation of biomolecules interaction and some kinetics parameters Internal metabolic milieu. or osmolality Internal signal molecules.

presents with a slightly different problem that ordinary sensors. such as a dialysis membrane or a hydrogel. a 3D polymer matrix. [1] . which either physically constrains the sensing macromolecule or chemically (macromolecule is bound to the scaffold). The encapsulation of the biological component in biosensors.applications. this can either be done by means of a semipermeable barrier.

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