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# MSc Sensors & Electronic Instrumentation

## Lecture 5: Strain Gauges & Pressure Measurement

Dr Paul W Nutter
Room 113, IT Building (Next to Computer Science)

E-mail: p.nutter@manchester.ac.uk

Lecture Aims

## •  to discuss the operation of strain gauges

•  to present forms of gauges
•  to discuss bridge circuits for signal conversion
•  to present applications of strain gauges (pressure measurement)
•  to discuss pressure sensors

1
Strain Gauges

## Strain gauges are based on the variation of resistance of a conductor

or semiconductor when subjected to a mechanical stress.

## Strain gauges are used to measure the extension or compression of a

‘body’, and have many applications primarily in the measurement of
Force, Pressure and Acceleration.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 3

Resistance of a Wire

## The simplest strain gauge can be considered to be constructed from a

single wire having length l, cross sectional area A, and resistivity, ,
as shown below. l

F
A r

## Where the bulk resistance, R, of the wire is given by

ρ l
R=
A
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 4

2
Stress and Strain
Definitions:
extension Δl
Strain = =
original length l
Strain is caused by a stress that is applied to the body, which
using Hooke’s law is given by

Force Δl
Stress = =E
Area l
where E is Young’s Modulus and we are assuming operation in
the elastic region.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 5

Stress on a Wire

## If we apply a stress, S, longitudinally to out simple wire (due to a

force F), then the resistance of the wire will change which is given
by
dR ρ ∂ l l ∂ ρ ∂ (1 A)
= + +ρl
ds A ∂ s A ∂ s ∂s
which gives
dR ρ ∂ l l ∂ ρ ρ l ∂ A
= + −
ds A ∂ s A ∂ s A2 ∂ s
If we divide both sides by the resistance, R, then
1 dR 1 ∂ l 1 ∂ ρ 1 ∂ A  ΔR = Δl + Δρ − ΔA
= + −
R ds l ∂ s ρ ∂ s A ∂ s R l ρ A
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 6

3
Poisson’s Ratio
If our simple wire is of diameter, d, then we have
2 2
⎛ d + Δd ⎞ − ⎛ d ⎞
⎜ ⎟ ⎜ ⎟
ΔA ⎝ 2 ⎠ ⎝ 2 ⎠ 2 Δd
= 2 ≈ (Δd << d )
A ⎛d⎞ d
⎜ ⎟
⎝ 2⎠
We can relate the lateral strain, (Dd/d), to the longitudinal strain, (Dl/l),
using Poisson’s ratio, n, where
lateral strain
ν=−
longitudinal strain
Δd / d ΔA Δl
i.e. ν=− and = −2ν
Δl / l A l
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 7

Change in Resistance

## Writing the change in resistance in terms of length changes

ΔR Δl Δρ Δl
= + + 2ν
R l ρ l
which gives

ΔR Δl Δρ
= (1 + 2ν ) +
R l ρ
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 8

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Gauge Factor

## The gauge factor, G, is defined as,

ΔR Δρ
R ρ
G=  G = 1 + 2ν +
Δl Δl
l l

## The second term, 2n, is entirely due to dimensional changes,

whereas the third, Dr/r /Dl/l, is known as the piezoresistive term
and is the change in actual resistivity due to applied strain.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 9

Materials
In metals, the D l/l term dominates and the gauge factor is given by

G ≈ 1 + 2ν
Typically,   00.5 and therefore G  12 for common
copper-nickel alloy strain gauges. So for a 1% change in length, the
resistance of a metal strain gauge changes by 12%.

## In semiconductors (i.e. silicon) the / term dominates (large

piezoresistivity) and G values of 100 or more can be achieved. This
gives a very large sensitivity.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 10

5
Measurement of Force

## Thus we have shown that there is a relationship between the

change in electric resistance of a material and the strain it
experiences, and that the change depends upon the type of strain
gauge employed - metal or semiconductor.

## If the relationship between the strain and force causing it is

known, then from the measurement of resistance change it is
possible to determine the applied force.

## •  The unbonded strain gauge consists of a wire stretched

between two points in an insulating medium such as air.
These are typically used for pressure, force and acceleration
measurement.
•  An unbonded strain gauge is usually employed in a bridge
circuit and is arranged so that two gauges are lengthened and
two shortened by the displacement of a movable part relative
to a fixed part.
•  Typical displacements which can be measured - 50mm on a
force lever or diaphragm.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 12

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Bonded Strain Gauges
Bonded strain gauges are typically wires cemented onto a suitable
backing or more likely thin film resistors deposited onto a
suitable substrate (often epoxy resin). The gauge is then cemented
onto the test structure from which strain is to be measured.

## linear gauge - measure strain in a single axis

rosette gauge - measure strain in three directions
torque gauge – for measuring shear strain due to torsion
radial gauge - for attaching to pressure diaphragms

## Forms of Bonded Gauge

Backing
Gauge
Length Foil

a) Linear b) Rosette

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 14

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Typical Characteristics
Metal Semiconductor

## Gauge Resistance 120, 350, 600,

>500
(W) 1000

Linearity 0.1% 1%

## Breaking Strain 25,000 me 5,000 me

10 million 10 million
Fatigue Life
reversals reversals
1 = 10-6m/m - strain
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 15

Limitations
There are a few limitations of strain gauges, which must be
considered:

•  The applied stress should not exceed the elastic limit or else
Hooke’s law is no longer valid.

## •  The measurement will only be correct if all the stress is

transmitted to the gauge; this is achieved by bonding the
strain gauge with an elastic adhesive, which is stable with
temperature and time.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 16

8
Limitations cont.

## •  Temperature is a source of interference in strain gauges, since

changes in temperature affects the dimensions and resistivity
of the strain gauge. Temperature effects are very pronounced
in semiconductor strain gauges. The effects of temperature
may be elevated by the use of dummy gauges, which have the
same temperature characteristics as the active gauge.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 17

Limitations cont.

## •  Resistance is measured by passing a current through the strain

gauge, the resulting power dissipation may cause heating -
typical maximum current is 25mA for metal strain gauges if
the base material is a good heat conductor, and 5mA if it is a
poor heat conductor. In semiconductor strain gauges the
maximum power dissipation is approx. 250mW.

## In spite of these limitations, strain gauges are some of the most

popular sensors because of their small size, high linearity and low
impedance.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 18

9
Bridge Circuits
⎛ R3 ⎞ ⎛ R4 ⎞
v1 = v s⎜ ⎟, v 2 = v s⎜ ⎟
R1 ⎝ R1 + R3 ⎠ ⎝ R2 + R4 ⎠
R2
⎛ R3 R4 ⎞
v1 vo v o = v1 − v 2 = v s⎜ − ⎟
vs v2 ⎝ R3 + R1 R4 + R2 ⎠

⎛ ⎞
R3 R4 ⎜ 1 1 ⎟
or v o = v s⎜ − ⎟
⎜ 1+ R1 1+ R2 ⎟
⎜ ⎟
⎝ R3 R4 ⎠

##  The bridge is in balance when R1/R3= R2/R4, such that vo=0.

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 19

Quarter Bridge
⎛ ( R + ΔR) R ⎞
v o = v s⎜ − ⎟
Dummy Gauge ⎝ R + ( R + ΔR) R + R ⎠
R R2 ⎛ ( R + ΔR) 1 ⎞
= v s⎜ − ⎟
⎝ 2R + ΔR 2 ⎠
vs vo ⎛ (2R + 2ΔR) − (2R + ΔR) ⎞
v o = v s⎜ ⎟
⎝ 4R + 2ΔR ⎠
R+DR R4
if ΔR << R
Active Gauge ⎛ ΔR ⎞
v o ≈ v s⎜ ⎟
⎝ 4R ⎠

## NB DR can be +ve or -ve

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 20

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Temperature Effects
If R1 is the dummy gauge and R3 is the active gauge, and when
balanced R1= R2= R3= R4=R, then if the resistance of R3 changes by
a fraction x due to an applied stress, i.e. R3=R+DR and both R1 and
R3 undergo the same temperature change, y, i.e. R1=R(1+y), and
R3=(R+DR)(1+y) then …
⎛ ( R + ΔR)(1+ y ) R ⎞ v sΔR
v o = v s⎜ − ⎟=
⎝ R(1+ y ) + ( R + ΔR)(1+ y ) R + R ⎠ 4R

## provided DR<<R, and it can be seen that the effects due to

temperature have been removed.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 21

## Dummy Gauge Active Gauge

R R+DR

vs vo

R+DR R
Active Gauge Dummy Gauge

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The Half Bridge

Active Gauges

Dummy Gauges

## Half Bridge Output

⎛ ( R + ΔR) R ⎞
v o = v s⎜ − ⎟
⎝ R + ( R + ΔR) R + ( R + ΔR) ⎠
⎛ ( R + ΔR) − ( R) ⎞
v o = v s⎜ ⎟
⎝ 2R + 2ΔR ⎠
if ΔR << R
⎛ ΔR ⎞
v o ≈ v s⎜ ⎟ NB DR can be +ve or -ve
⎝ 2R ⎠
We have twice the sensitivity of the quarter bridge
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 24

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Full Bridge
In this arrangement two gauges experience compression and two
equal but opposite tension.

## Active Gauge Active Gauge

(compression) (tension)
R - DR R+DR

vs vo

R+DR R - DR
Active Gauge Active Gauge
(tension) (compression)

Full Bridge

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 26

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Full Bridge Output
⎛ ( R + ΔR) ( R − ΔR) ⎞
v o = v s⎜ − ⎟
⎝ R + ( R + ΔR) R + ( R − ΔR) ⎠
⎛ ( R + ΔR)( R + ( R − ΔR)) − ( R − ΔR)( R + ( R + ΔR)) ⎞
v o = v s⎜⎜ ⎟⎟
⎝ ( R + ( R + ΔR )) ( R + ( R − ΔR )) ⎠
if ΔR << R
⎛ ΔR ⎞
v o ≈ v s⎜ ⎟ NB DR can be +ve or -ve
⎝ R⎠

## We have twice the sensitivity of the half bridge

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 27

Example Applications

## Proof Ring Connected as a full bridge.

Force Force

Tension
Compression
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 28

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Example Applications

Active Gauges

Dummy Gauges

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 29

Pressure Transducer
Active Gauges
Atmospheric pressure

## The dummy gauges sit in the less stressed area of

the diaphragm near the edges. The active gauges
are in the centre and experience a stress as the Pressure inlet
diaphragm deforms due to pressure. A half bridge
connection would be used for read out.

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Measuring Torque

45 2 1
45

3 4

## The shear stress caused by torsion causes strains to appear at 45o

to the shaft axis. The strain gauges must be placed accurately at
45o otherwise they become sensitive to bending and axial stresses
in addition to those caused by torsion.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 31

In the previous analysis we
have assumed that there are
output of the bridge circuit.
resistance Rl, exists as vs
illustrated Rl
R3 R4

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 32

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Equivalent Circuit

## R1 R3 where the series resistance is

R1 + R3 calculated by short circuiting
the source.

vo Rl

R2 R4
R2 + R4

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 33

The output voltage, vl, is then given by
vl 1
=
v o 1+ Rb Rl
where
R2 R4 RR
Rb = + 1 3
R2 + R4 R1 + R3
If Rl is infinite, then vl=vo, as expected. If Rl is not infinite, there will
be a reduction in output signal.
For example, if Rl = 10Rb, then vl/vo=1/1.1=0.91, and 9% of the signal
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 34

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Amplification of Bridge Output
We can drive a differential amplifier using the bridge circuit,
Rf

R1 R2
-
vo
vs vo’
+

R3 R4
Rf

0V
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 35

Equivalent Circuit

Rf
R1 R3
Ri1 =
R1 + R3

-
vo vo’
+

R2 R4
Ri 2 = Rf
R2 + R4

0V
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 36

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Gain of Circuit
For a full bridge: R1=R+DR, R2=R-DR, R3=R-DR and R4=R+DR,
R1R3 The difference mode gain is then given by
Ri1 =
R1 + R3
Rf 2R f
=
(R + ΔR)(R − ΔR) Gain = =
2R Ri R
R − ΔR 2 R
2
= ≈
2R 2 Problem is Common Mode Gain depends
for ΔR << R on the two resistors Rf being identical.
Similarly, A better solution with very low common
R mode gain is to use an instrumentation
Ri2 ≈
2 amplifier.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 37

Instrumentation Amplifier
v1 +
R4
-
R3
R2 -
R1 vo
R2 +
R3
R4 ⎛ 2R2 ⎞
- R4 vo = ⎜1+ ⎟(v1 − v 2 )
R3 ⎝ R1 ⎠
v2 + 0V

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 38

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Pressure Measurements

## 1.  Absolute pressure – pressure at a point in a fluid relative to a

vacuum (absolute zero of pressure)

pressure.

## 3.  Differential Pressure – difference between two unknown

pressures, neither of which is atmospheric pressure.

## 1 Pa = 1 N/m2 = 1.45 x 10-4 lb/in2

1 lb/in2 = 6895 N/m2 = 0.0703 kg/cm2
1 atm = 101,325 N/m2 = 14.7 lb/in2
1 bar = 100,000 N/m2 = 14.5 lb/in2
1 mmHg = 133.3 N/m2 = 1.93 x 10-2 lb/in2

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 40

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Manometers
Vacuum
Unknown Open to atmosphere
pressure Unknown pressure

ha hg hd
B A

## a) Absolute b) Gauge c) Differential

Column of liquid supported produced pressure P = r h, where r is the
density of the liquid and h the height of the column. Thus for case a)
PA = PB = r ha
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 41

Weight (m)

V1
Sensor Valve Priming Pump
Under & Reservoir
Test Piston & Cylinder
Screw Press

## The system is pressurised when the valve V1 is opened.

November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 42

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Calibration Procedure

## •  Extend the screw press to its zero position

•  Apply weights representing the required pressure to the
piston (P = m.g/A, where m is the mass applied, A the
area of the piston and g the acceleration due to
gravity).
•  Pressurise the system through valve V1 and then close
the valve.
•  Operate screw press until piston is just raised then
sensor should then read pressure P.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 43

Accuracy of Calibration

## •  Precision of manufacture of piston.

•  Friction in the piston.

## November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 44

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Sensors using elastic properties.
Three types of device:

## 1.  Bourdon Tubes

– basis of many mechanical gauges.
2.  Bellows
– low cost barometers.
3.  Diaphragms or Membranes
– most commonly used structures for pressure
sensing.
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 45

Bourdon Tubes
Tube cross section

Soft Rot.

Stiff in x-y

## a) C type b) Spiral c) Twisted Tube

Free end usually connected to needle dial. C-type used up to 7 x108 N/m2 (100,000
psi). The spiral and twisted versions produce larger displacements and are used below
1 x 106 N/m2. Best accuracy ~ 0.1%
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 46

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Bellows

(Gauge Pressure)

## Reversible with low hysterisis b) Double Bellows Gauge

Often used in aneroid barometers (Differential Pressure)
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 47

## Diaphragms and Membranes

Pressure p
Diaphragm
Y = Young’s Modulus of
r
t diaphragm
r = density (SI units)
u = Poisson’s ratio
dr dm D, t dm in mm
D

Centre deflection dm =
(
3 1 −ν 2 D 4 p )
265Yt 3
dm is linearly related to pressure p if d m ≤ 0.5t
November 08 SEI MSc, Sensors & Sensing - Lecture 5 48

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The End …

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