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Research & Technology

New Si Sensor measures electric field strength

Vienna University of Technology has developed an MEMS sensor which does not affect the electric field it is measuring and can tolerate temperature fluctuations.

26 Feb. 2018
Roland Ackermann
HMI-ID02-045ra_SI_Sensor
New Si Sensor measures electric field strength (Foto: Technische Universität Wien)

Errors in machine control often arise from moisture or magnetic and electrical fields. However, these are not that easy to measure and certainly not without large equipment. That is why a research team from Vienna and Krems has developed a silicon sensor as a MEMS (microelectromechanical system), which has a great advantage over previous systems in that it does not disturb the electric field whose strength it is measuring.

It is based on a very simple concept: Small, grid-like silicon structures, whose dimensions only reach micrometers, are attached to a small spring. If you introduce silicon into an electric field, a force is exerted upon the silicon crystal and the spring either gets stretched or compressed. These tiny movements are then made visible to the eye. It has already been possible to reach the approximate level of previous products with a prototype, reports Dr. Andreas Kainz from the Institute for Sensor and Actuator Systems at the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Vienna University of Technology. Researchers promise significantly better results in the future.