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sensor and pressure sensor chips


Sensor chips are dies incorporating semiconductor circuit elements that are used to convert changes to some physical parameter to an electrical signal. There are several kinds of sensor chips: temperature, gas and liquid pressure, load cells (force sensors), chemical (pH, oxygen, carbon dioxide), magnetic, mechanical (acceleration, position, pressure, knock, rotation), optical (single-chip cameras, edge detectors, and image pattern recognizers), medical (protein interactions) and others. Like other semiconductors, a sensor chip can be flexible, and can be manufactured as a signal conditioning chip, a stand-alone transducer, or a combination.

Performance specifications for pressure sensor chips include pressure range, supply voltage, impedance, impedance temperature coefficient, bandwidth, accuracy, and long term stability. Performance specifications for temperature sensor chips include temperature range, supply voltage, impedance, impedance temperature coefficient, bandwidth, and accuracy. Other sensor chips have specifications unique to the application. For example, single-chip cameras have array resolution, pixel pitch, fill factor, array size, peak responsivity, sensitivity, and dynamic range, among others.

Sensor chips have several integrated circuit (IC) package types: SC-170, which is used in handheld devices such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs), small outline transistor (SOT) packages like SOT23 and SOT123, small outline (SO) packages like SO-8 and SO-16, and transistor outline packages such as TO-8. Bare die and quarter size outline package (QSOP) devices are also available. Sensor chips can interface with several hardware busses, including the system management bus (SMBus), the industry standard architecture (ISA) bus, the I2C bus, and the actuator sensor interface, which is also called AS-I or ASi.

Sensor chips that meet the requirements of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (research) Standard 1451 can transmit electronic data to a data acquisition system. Sensor chips used for machinery safety/emergency stop applications can provide safety support up to Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3 according to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IEC 61508.

Pressure Sensor Chips

Pressure sensor chips are die, IC chips or sensing elements devices that sense changes in pressure. They can be used as stand alone devices or can be embedded in ceramic or plastic-based packages such as surface mount or through-hole chips. Some devices produce an analog current or analog voltage that is proportional to the input signal. Others produce a digital parallel output signal, a pulse width modulation (PWM) output voltage, or a logic output based on threshold input values. Pressure sensor chips with serial interfaces allow communication with embedded microcontrollers and other digital systems. Common pressure measurements include absolute, gauge, differential, and vacuum pressure. Typically, pressure sensor chips are designed for medical, automotive, industrial, consumer product, and military applications. Sensors are manufactured as signal conditioning chips, stand-alone transducers, or integrated transducers that include both signal conditioning and the sensor on the same die.

Performance specifications for pressure sensor chips include pressure range, supply voltage, impedance, impedance temperature coefficient, bandwidth, and accuracy. Typically, pressure range values are expressed in pounds per square inch (psi). The supply voltage or excitation is the input voltage required to operate pressure sensor chips. Impedance, the total opposition to the flow of current, is measured at the sensor input. The impedance temperature coefficient is typically expressed in parts per million (ppm) and measures changes in input impedance per degree of temperature change. Bandwidth is the frequency range over which devices meet specifications for accuracy, the maximum difference that exists between the actual value and the indicated output value. Accuracy can be expressed as a percentage of full scale or in absolute terms.

There are several integrated circuit (IC) package types for pressure sensor chips. SC-170, one of the smallest available IC packages, is used in handheld devices such as cellular phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). SOT23 is a rectangular, surface mounted, small outline transistor (SOT) package with three or more gull wing leads and a very small footprint. SOT123, another small outline transistor (SOT) package, is flanged, ceramic, and surface mounted with two mounting holes and four leads. Other IC package types include SO-8 and SO-16, both of which are small outline (SO) packages and TO-8, a transistor outline (TO) package. Bare die and quarter size outline package (QSOP) devices are also available.

Pressure sensor chips are packaged in tape reels, trays or rails, shipping tubes or stick magazines, and in bulk packs. Tape reel assemblies include a carrier tape with embossed cavities for storing individual components. A cover tape seals the carrier tape in place and the composite tape is wound on a reel that can be loaded into industry-standard, pick-and-place board assembly equipment. Pressure sensor chips with leads on four sides are often packed in trays or rails that are made of carbon-powder or fiber materials and molded into rectangular outlines that contain matrices of uniformly spaced pockets. Shipping tubes or stick magazines are containers made of rigid polyvinylchloride (PVC) and extruded in industry-standard sizes. Bulk packs are used to distribute components as individual parts.





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