What is a capacitive sensor?
Capacitance sensors detect a change in capacitance when something or someone approaches or touches the sensor. The technique has been used in industrial applications for many years to measure liquid levels, humidity, and material composition. A newer application, coming into widespread use, is in human-to-machine interfaces. Mechanical buttons, switches, and jog wheels have long been used as the interface between the user and the machine. Because of their many drawbacks, however, interface designers have been increasingly looking for more reliable solutions. Capacitive sensors can be used in the same manner as buttons, but they also can function with greater versatility, for example, when implementing a 128-position scroll bar.
How Do Capacitive sensors Work?
Noncontact capacitive sensors work by measuring changes in an electrical property called capacitance. Capacitance describes how two conductive objects with a space between them respond to a voltage difference applied to them. When a voltage is applied to the conductors, an electric field is created between them causing positive and negative charges to collect on each object . If the polarity of the voltage is reversed, the charges will also reverse. Applying an alternating voltage causes the charges to move back and forth between the objects, creating an alternating current which is detected by the sensor. Capacitive sensors use an alternating voltage which causes the charges to continually reverse their positions. The moving of the charges creates an alternating electric current which is detected by the sensor (Fig. 2). The amount of current flow is determined by the capacitance, and the capacitance is determined by the area and proximity of the conductive objects. Larger and closer objects cause greater current than smaller and more distant objects. The capacitance is also affected by the type of nonconductive material in the gap between the objects. More items… Can you submit more information?