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Pressure sensor promises better accuracy

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sensor? pressure? membrane?

Future smartphones and portable gadgets will be able to accurately pinpoint the user's location relative to sea level up to one meter using a tiny silicon pressure sensor from STMicroelectronics.

The Switzerland-based company said its MEMS sensor, dubbed the LPS001WP, provides "extremely high resolution" measurements of pressure, thereby also pinpointing altitude, in an ultra-compact and thin package. Using the said sensor, a smartphone will be able to detect the users location, such as a building, and the floor where he is located.

The LPS001WP's operating pressure range is 300 millibar to 1,100 millibar, about -750m and +9,000m relative to sea level. It can detect pressure changes as small as 0.065millibar, corresponding to 80cm of altitude.STMIcroelectronics used its proprietary technology called "VENSENS," which enables the pressure sensor to be fabricated on a monolithic silicon chip, thereby eliminating wafer-to-wafer bonding and maximizes reliability.

The LPS001WP pressure sensor is based on a flexible silicon membrane formed above an air cavity with a controlled gap and defined pressure. The membrane is smaller than traditional silicon micro-machined membranes and is protected from breakage by built-in mechanical stoppers. A piezoresistor is included in the membrane to allow the change in resistance to be monitored, thermally compensated, and converted to a digital value for the equipment's host processor to analyze using the industry-standard I2C or SPI communications protocols.

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