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Pressure Sensors


The concept of pressure was primarily based on the pioneering work of Evangelista Torricelli who for a short time was a student of Galileo [1]. During his experiments with mercury filled dishes, in 1643, he realized that the atmosphere exerts pressure on Earth. Another great experimenter Blaise Pascal, in 1647, conducted an experiment with the help of his brother-in-law, Perier, on the top of the mountain Puy de Dome and at its base. He observed that pressure exerted on the column of mercury depends on elevation. He named a mercury-in-vacuum instrument they used in the experiment the barometer. In 1660, Robert Boyle stated his famous relationship: “The product of the measures of pressure and volume is constant for a given mass of air at fixed temperature.” In 1738, Daniel Bernoulli developed an impact theory of gas pressure to the point where Boyle’s law could be deducted analytically. Bernoulli also anticipated the Charles–Gay-Lussac law by stating that pressure is increased by heating gas at a constant volume. For a detailed description of gas and fluid dynamics, a reader should be referred to one of the many books on the fundamentals of physics. Below, we briefly summarize the basics, which are essential for understanding design and use of pressure sensors.


  • Pressure Sensor
  • Heated Plate
  • Wheatstone Bridge
  • Capacitive Sensor
  • Capacitive Pressure Sensor

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  1. 1.

    Note that this sensor can be used as an inclination sensor when pressures at both sides of the tube are equal.

  2. 2.

    Stress is measured in N/m2.

  3. 3.

    Difficult but not impossible. Thin diaphragms were developed for the vacuum sensors [21], albeit they are expensive and very delicate.

  4. 4.

    Refer to description of Pitot tubes elsewhere, for example in [16].


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Correspondence to Jacob Fraden .

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Fraden, J. (2010). Pressure Sensors. In: Handbook of Modern Sensors. Springer, New York, NY.

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