An acceleration sensor (also accelerometer , accelerometer , vibration sensor , vibration sensor , accelerometer , accelerometer , B-knife or G-sensor ) is a sensor that measures its acceleration . This is mostly done by determining the inertial force acting on a test mass . Thus, for. B. determine whether a speed increase or decrease takes place. The acceleration sensor belongs to the group of inertial sensors .
If continuous acceleration measurements are recorded, this series of measurements is called an accelerogram.
The acceleration is measured in the SI unit m · s −2 (meters per second squared). In practice, however, it is often given as a multiple or part of the mean value of the acceleration due to gravity . The mean acceleration due to gravity is denoted by g (small “G” in italics) and is rounded to 9.81 m · s −2 .
Acceleration is a mechanical variable that plays a major role in many areas of technology . Accelerometers therefore have a variety of possible uses - for example:
- Measurement of (linear) accelerations (accelerometer)
- Measurement of vibrations on buildings and machines
- Triggering of airbags in vehicles
- Active suspension systems in vehicles
- Alarm systems for movable goods or as a touch sensor
- Protection against head crashes in hard drives
- Health care applications, health care and surveillance
- During crash tests in the dummies and vehicles.
- Sensor technology in digital cameras (e.g. for automatic switching from portrait to wide image and image stabilization )
- Sensor technology in smartphones
- Damage investigations during the transport of goods
- in accelerometers and seismographs in the field of seismics and earthquake monitoring
- Inclination measurement in static systems (i.e. as long as other accelerations are negligible compared to gravitational acceleration )
- Active speakers
- Together with gyroscopes for attitude control or stabilization of aircraft such as helicopters or UAVs
- For controlling video games
- In mining and engineering, elevators were checked early on using acceleration sensors, with a one-dimensional measuring system being sufficient. Since the publication of ISO 18738 “Measurement of lift ride quality” in 2003 at the latest, the three-dimensional acceleration sensor has also found its way into elevator construction.
- Acceleration measurement is also indispensable for satellite and rocket technology and the analysis of vehicle movements or car electronics .
- Precision sensors are sometimes also used for measurements in the earth's gravity field - see gravimetry and gradiometry , as well as the ESA satellite GOCE .
- Position determination with inertial navigation systems , including inertial navigation systems; INS are increasingly being replaced by GPS, especially in aviation.
- Sleep phase alarm clock ; these wake up the person to be awakened at a point in time when they are moving. This ensures that the person does not wake up in the REM phase , which usually leads to greater fatigue later in the day. Motion sensors are also sufficient here .
The first of these measuring instruments had a so-called “sensitive axis ” on which the seismic mass was arranged so that it could be displaced with springs and which operated a sliding resistor with a sliding contact, for example . These so-called gyrometers were - in connection with gyroscopic instruments - the basis of many control methods and inertial navigation until around 1970 .
Later they were largely replaced by more precise systems with flexible quartz rods (“Q-Flex”) or magnetically stabilized masses. Miniaturized sensors are usually built with piezoelectric sensors or as MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System). Many technical applications require full three-dimensional measurements, for example in mechanical engineering , for controlling robots or in space travel . Here is miniaturization is an important prerequisite - alongside insensitivity to temperature, vibration and other effects. Numerous applications manage with 2D sensors , however , when it is mainly about movements in one plane.
Small sensors with a mass of a few grams have measuring ranges from a few g to tens or even hundreds of g and are robust against impacts. The resolution reaches 0.01m g .
Precision instruments with a mass of several kilograms provide accuracies of 10 −9 g .
In principle, most of the acceleration sensors used today are based on Newton's law of inertia:
In the event of acceleration, the spring-suspended mass changes its position relative to the surrounding sensor housing, which is further evaluated inside the sensor.
Piezoelectric acceleration sensors
A piezoceramic sensor plate converts dynamic pressure fluctuations into electrical signals that can be processed accordingly. The pressure fluctuation is generated by a (seismic) mass attached to the piezoceramic and acts on the piezoceramic when the entire system is accelerated. This system is z. B. used in wheel balancing machines, where each imbalance of the wheel generates a corresponding signal in the piezoceramic. It detects the tire imbalance within seconds.
In recent years, miniaturized acceleration sensors have become increasingly important. These are micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) and are mostly made of silicon . These sensors are spring-mass systems in which the “springs” are silicon webs only a few μm wide and the mass is also made of silicon. Due to the deflection during acceleration, a change in the electrical capacitance can be measured between the spring-mounted part and a fixed reference electrode . The entire measuring range corresponds to a change in capacitance of approx. 1 pF . The electronics for evaluating this small change in capacitance are accommodated on the same integrated circuit (IC).
There are also variants in which piezoresistive resistors are attached to the bending beam by means of ion implantation , which change their resistance according to the bending and thus allow conclusions to be drawn about the acceleration.
To manufacture these miniaturized sensors, the mass and the small silicon springs (silicon pins) are etched out of the silicon using photolithography . In order to obtain a self-supporting structure, an underlying layer of silicon dioxide is also removed by etching.
This type of acceleration sensors has the advantage of relatively low unit costs (mass production) and high reliability (some such sensors can withstand accelerations up to a thousand times the measuring range without damage). Because of their small size, they are also characterized by high measuring speed. You are therefore z. B. used to trigger airbags in vehicles.
More acceleration sensors
- Strain gauges : Another way of determining the force on the test mass by determining the deformation of the attachment (e.g. a rod) using strain gauges (especially suitable for lower frequencies).
- Magnetic induction : When the test mass is suspended from a spring, an electrical voltage is induced by a magnet in a coil, similar to a dynamic microphone ( moving coil microphone ).
- The Ferraris sensor measures the relative acceleration without a test mass using eddy currents. It is used to analyze and control highly dynamic drives.
- Jörg Böttcher: Acceleration sensors. In: Online compendium of measurement technology and sensor technology. Retrieved August 13, 2019 .