Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Transducer


This paper presents a fully differential single-axis accelerometer fabricated using the MetalMUMPs process. The unique structural configuration and common-centriod wiring of the metal electrodes enables a fully differential sensing scheme with robust metal sensing structures. CoventorWare is used in structural and electrical design and simulation of the fully differential accelerometer. The MUMPs foundry fabrication process of the sensor allows for high yield, good process consistency and provides 20 μm structural thickness of the sensing element, which makes the capacitive sensing eligible. In device characterization, surface profile of the fabricated device is measured using a Veeco surface profilometer; and mean and gradient residual stress in the nickel structure are calculated as approximately 94.7 MPa and -5.27 MPa/μm, respectively. Dynamic characterization of the sensor is performed using a vibration shaker with a high-end commercial calibrating accelerometer as reference. The sensitivity of the sensor is measured as 0.52 mV/g prior to off-chip amplification. Temperature dependence of the sensing capacitance is also characterized. A -0.021fF/°C is observed. The findings in the presented work will provide useful information for design of sensors and actuators such as accelerometers, gyroscopes and electrothermal actuators that are to be fabricated using MetalMUMPs technology.

Concepts: Sensors, Accelerometer, Structure, Profilometer, Capacitive displacement sensor, Transducer, Sensor, Microelectromechanical systems


Chlorophyll a fluorometry has long been used as a method to study phytoplankton in the ocean. In situ fluorometry is used frequently in oceanography to provide depth-resolved estimates of phytoplankton biomass. However, the high price of commercially manufactured in situ fluorometers has made them unavailable to some individuals and institutions. Presented here is an investigation into building an in situ fluorometer using low cost electronics. The goal was to construct an easily reproducible in situ fluorometer from simple and widely available electronic components. The simplicity and modest cost of the sensor makes it valuable to students and professionals alike. Open source sharing of architecture and software will allow students to reconstruct and customize the sensor on a small budget. Research applications that require numerous in situ fluorometers or expendable fluorometers can also benefit from this study. The sensor costs US$150.00 and can be constructed with little to no previous experience. The sensor uses a blue LED to excite chlorophyll a and measures fluorescence using a silicon photodiode. The sensor is controlled by an Arduino microcontroller that also serves as a data logger.

Concepts: Pulse oximeter, Ocean, Transducer, Infrared, Fluorescence, Fluorescence spectroscopy, Fluorometer, Diode


A new gait phase detection system for continuous monitoring based on wireless sensorized insoles is presented. The system can be used in gait analysis mobile applications, and it is designed for real-time demarcation of gait phases. The system employs pressure sensors to assess the force exerted by each foot during walking. A fuzzy rule-based inference algorithm is implemented on a smartphone and used to detect each of the gait phases based on the sensor signals. Additionally, to provide a solution that is insensitive to perturbations caused by non-walking activities, a probabilistic classifier is employed to discriminate walking forward from other low-level activities, such as turning, walking backwards, lateral walking, etc. The combination of these two algorithms constitutes the first approach towards a continuous gait assessment system, by means of the avoidance of non-walking influences.

Concepts: Algorithm, Assessment, Sensor, Phase, Transducer, Locomotion, Sensors, Personal digital assistant


Autonomous liquid-volume monitoring is crucial in ubiquitous healthcare. However, conventional approach is based on either human visual observation or expensive detectors, which are costly for future pervasive monitoring. Here we introduce a novel approach based on passive harmonic transponder antenna sensor and frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) pattern analysis, to provide a very low cost wireless μL-resolution liquid-volume monitoring without battery or digital circuits. In our conceptual demonstration, the harmonic transponder comprises of a passive nonlinear frequency multiplier connected to a metamaterial-inspired 3-D antenna designed to be highly sensitive to the liquid-volume within a confined region. The transponder first receives some FHSS signal from an interrogator, then converts such signal to its harmonic band and re-radiates through the antenna sensor. The harmonic signal is picked up by a sniffer receiver and decoded through pattern analysis of the high dimensional FHSS signal strength data. A robust, zero power, absolute accuracy wireless liquid-volume monitoring is realized in the presence of strong direct coupling, background scatters, distance variance as well as near-field human-body interference. The concepts of passive harmonic transponder sensor, metamaterial-inspired antenna sensor, and FHSS pattern analysis based sensor decoding may help establishing cost-effective, energy-efficient and intelligent wireless pervasive healthcare monitoring platforms.

Concepts: Frequency-hopping spread spectrum, Wave, Transducer, Radio electronics, Multiplexing, Signal processing, Spread spectrum, Radio


Rapid localization of injured survivors by rescue teams to prevent death is a major issue. In this paper, a sensor system for human rescue including three different types of sensors, a CO₂ sensor, a thermal camera, and a microphone, is proposed. The performance of this system in detecting living victims under the rubble has been tested in a high-fidelity simulated disaster area. Results show that the CO₂ sensor is useful to effectively reduce the possible concerned area, while the thermal camera can confirm the correct position of the victim. Moreover, it is believed that the use of microphones in connection with other sensors would be of great benefit for the detection of casualties. In this work, an algorithm to recognize voices or suspected human noise under rubble has also been developed and tested.

Concepts: Frequency response, ITU-R 468 noise weighting, High fidelity, The Victim, Sound, Microphone, Victim, Transducer


falls in hospitals are a major problem and contribute to substantial healthcare burden. Advances in sensor technology afford innovative approaches to reducing falls in acute hospital care. However, whether these are clinically effective and cost effective in the UK setting has not been evaluated.

Concepts: Patient, Sensors, Health care, Clinical trial, Transducer, Randomized controlled trial, Sensor, Hospital


We present a multifunctional tactile sensor inspired by human hairy skin structure, in which the sensitive hair sensor and the robust skin sensor are integrated into a single device via a pair of Co-based ferromagnetic microwire arrays in a very simple manner. The sensor possesses a self-tunable effective compliance with respect to the magnitude of the stimulus, allowing a wide range of loading force to be measured. The sensor also exhibits some amazing functions, such as air-flow detection, material property characterization, and excellent damage resistance. The novel sensing mechanism and structure provide a new strategy for designing multifunctional tactile sensors and show great potential applications on intelligent robot and sensing in harsh environments.

Concepts: Hair follicle, Transducers, Robot, Novel, Hair, Sensor, Transducer, Skin


Stevens Institute of Technology has built the Acoustic Aircraft Detection (AAD) system for the detection, tracking and classification of Low Flying Aircraft (LFA). LFA may be of concern as they have been used for illicit operations. The AAD consists of several nodes deployed in a wide area, where each node acquires signals from a cluster of five microphones. The calculation of the cross-correlation function of acoustic signals received by various microphone pairs is applied for finding the direction of the signal arrival. Fusion of time difference of arrival estimates from several pairs of acoustic sensors has resulted in the improvement of angle estimation accuracy. Triangulation of the direction of arrival estimates from two or more nodes was applied for determining the target position and altitude. Kalman filtering was used for smoothing the target tracks and decreasing the localization uncertainties. Software for predicting the performance was developed and was used to inform sensor placement in the field tests. The field tests were conducted with various kinds of LFA-single-engine, helicopters, and ultralights. Comparison of the acoustic tracking results with the GPS ground truth showed that the errors are similar to the theoretical predictions. [This work was funded by DHS S&T.].

Concepts: Mathematics, Ensemble Kalman filter, Transducer, Kalman filter, Estimator, Estimation theory, Scientific method, Signal processing


A new technique for the detection of explosives has been developed based on fluorescence quenching of pyrene on paper-based analytical devices (μPADs). Wax barriers were generated (150 °C, 5 min) using ten different colours. Magenta was found as the most suitable wax colour for the generation of the hydrophobic barriers with a nominal width of 120 μm resulting in fully functioning hydrophobic barriers. One microliter of 0.5 mg mL(-1) pyrene dissolved in an 80 : 20 methanol-water solution was deposited on the hydrophobic circle (5 mm diameter) to produce the active microchip device. Under ultra-violet (UV) illumination, ten different organic explosives were detected using the μPAD, with limits of detection ranging from 100-600 ppm. A prototype of a portable battery operated instrument using a 3 W power UV light-emitting-diode (LED) (365 nm) and a photodiode sensor was also built and evaluated for the successful automatic detection of explosives and potential application for field-based screening.

Concepts: Transducer, Diode, Fluorescent lamp, Black light, Infrared, Ultraviolet, Color, Fluorescence


In underwater locomotion, extracting meaningful information from local flows is as desirable as it is challenging, due to complex fluid-structure interaction. Sensing and motion are tightly interconnected; hydrodynamic signals generated by the external stimuli are modified by the self-generated flow signals. Given that very little is known about self-generated signals, we used onboard pressure sensors to measure the pressure profiles over the head of a fusiform-shape craft while moving forward and backward harmonically. From these measurements we obtained a second-order polynomial model which incorporates the velocity and acceleration of the craft to estimate the surface pressure within the swimming range up to one body length/second (L s-1). The analysis of the model reveals valuable insights into the temporal and spatial changes of the pressure intensity as a function of craft’s velocity. At low swimming velocities (<0.2 L s-1) the pressure signals are more sensitive to the acceleration of the craft than its velocity. However, the inertial effects gradually become less important as the velocity increases. The sensors on the front part of the craft are more sensitive to its movements than the sensors on the sides. With respect to the hydrostatic pressure measured in still water, the pressure detected by the foremost sensor reaches values up to 300 Pa at 1 L s-1 swimming velocity, whereas the pressure difference between the foremost sensor and the next one is less than 50 Pa. Our results suggest that distributed pressure sensing can be used in a bimodal sensing strategy. The first mode detects external hydrodynamic events taking place around the craft, which requires minimal sensitivity to the self-motion of the craft. This can be accomplished by moving slowly with a constant velocity and by analyzing the pressure gradient as opposed to absolute pressure recordings. The second mode monitors the self-motion of the craft. It is shown here that distributed pressure sensing can be used as a speedometer to measure the craft's velocity.

Concepts: Transducer, Pressure sensor, Pascal, Scalar, Measurement, Fluid dynamics, Velocity, Pressure