There are two basic categories of analog pressure sensors,
Force collector types These types of electronic pressure sensors generally use a force collector (such a diaphragm, piston, bourdon tube, or bellows) to measure strain (or deflection) due to applied force (pressure) over an area.
- Piezoresistive strain gauge
- Uses the piezoresistive effect of bonded or formed strain gauges to detect strain due to applied pressure, resistance increasing as pressure deforms the material. Common technology types are Silicon (Monocrystalline), Polysilicon Thin Film, Bonded Metal Foil, Thick Film, and Sputtered Thin Film. Generally, the strain gauges are connected to form a wheatstone bridge circuit to maximize the output of the sensor and to reduce sensitivity to errors. This is the most commonly employed sensing technology for general purpose pressure measurement.
- Uses a diaphragm and pressure cavity to create a variable capacitor to detect strain due to applied pressure, capacitance decreasing as pressure deforms the diaphragm. Common technologies use metal, ceramic, and silicon diaphragms.
- Measures the displacement of a diaphragm by means of changes ininductance (reluctance), LVDT, Hall Effect, or by eddy current principle.
- Uses the piezoelectric effect in certain materials such as quartz to measure the strain upon the sensing mechanism due to pressure. This technology is commonly employed for the measurement of highly dynamic pressures.
- Techniques include the use of the physical change of an optical fiber to detect strain due to applied pressure. A common example of this type utilizes Fiber Bragg Gratings. This technology is employed in challenging applications where the measurement may be highly remote, under high temperature, or may benefit from technologies inherently immune to electromagnetic interference. Another analogous technique utilizes an elastic film constructed in layers that can change reflected wavelengths according to the applied pressure (strain).
- Uses the motion of a wiper along a resistive mechanism to detect the strain caused by applied pressure.
These types of electronic pressure sensors use other properties (such as density) to infer pressure of a gas, or liquid.
- Uses the changes in resonant frequency in a sensing mechanism to measure stress, or changes in gas density, caused by applied pressure. This technology may be used in conjunction with a force collector, such as those in the category above. Alternatively, resonant technology may be employed by exposing the resonating element itself to the media, whereby the resonant frequency is dependent upon the density of the media. Sensors have been made out of vibrating wire, vibrating cylinders, quartz, and silicon MEMS. Generally, this technology is considered to provide very stable readings over time.
- Uses the changes in thermal conductivity of a gas due to density changes to measure pressure. A common example of this type is the Pirani guage.
- Measures the flow of charged gas particles (ions) which varies due to density changes to measure pressure. Common examples are the Hot and Cold Cathode gauges.