Sensors and communications and computers are known as the three pillars of modern information technology and the basis of the Internet of Things. Their application involves various fields of national economy and national defense research, and they are one of the basic and strategic industries of the national economy. At present, the Internet of Things, big data, cloud computing technology, and even the realization of various technologies in smart city attract international attention, which also has a huge demand for sensor technology.
Technology is expanding the circle of human ability. If machines extend human physical strength and computers extend human intelligence, then ubiquitous sensors have greatly extended human perception.
Back in the 1980s, the United States declared that the world had entered the sensor age. As early as the early 1980s, the United States established the National Technology Group (BGT) to help the government organize and lead the development of sensor technology in large companies, state-owned enterprises and institutions.
Among the key technologies protecting the quality advantage of U.S. weapons systems are eight passive sensors. In 2000, the AIR Force listed 15 key technologies that would help improve air Force capabilities in the 21st century, with sensor technology ranking second.
The development model of the United States follows the development path of military industry before civilian use, improvement before popularization, and its characteristics are obvious:
(1) Attach importance to the research of sensor functional materials;
(2) attach importance to the development of sensor technology. Honeywell’s solid-state sensor Development Center, which invests $50 million annually in equipment, currently has computer aided design, single crystal growth, machining, graphics generator, stepwise repetitive photography, and automatic painting. The most advanced complete set of equipment and production equipment. N lines are updated every three years or so, such as gel and photolithography, plasma etching, sputtering, diffusion, epitaxy, evaporation, ion implantation chemical vapor deposition, scanning electron microscopy, encapsulation and shielding dynamic testing. Only in this way can we guarantee the leading level of technology.
(3) attach importance to process research: the principle of the sensor is not difficult, nor secret, the most secret is the process (manufacturing). Many evaluation sensors are not ordinary industrial products, but the perfect masterpiece of craftsmanship. In the United States, there are about 1,300 manufacturers that produce and develop sensors, as well as more than 100 institutes and colleges.
Sensor, not KOC kind of coinage, but a very traditional common word, you can easily find in xinhua dictionary. Transducer or Transducer. A “sensor” is defined in the Dictionary as “a device that receives power from one system and usually delivers it in another form to a second system”. According to this definition, the function of sensors is to transform one kind of energy into another form of energy, so many scholars also use “Transducer -Sensor” to call “sensor-sensor”.
In simple terms, a sensor is a detection device, usually composed of sensitive components and conversion components, which can measure information, but also allow users to perceive information. By means of transformation, the data or value information in the sensor is converted into electrical signals or other required forms of output, in order to meet the requirements of information transmission, processing, storage, display, recording and control.
Development process and present situation at home and abroad
In the early 1970s, western developed countries vigorously developed computer and communication technology, ignoring the development of sensor technology, resulting in the “brain” developed, but “five senses” dull predicament, sensor industry is relatively bleak.
In the early 1980s, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain and other countries have established the policy of accelerating the development of sensor technology, as a key technology related to scientific and technological progress, economic development and national security, have been included in the long-term development planning and key plans. And adopt strict confidentiality rules to block and control technology, prohibit technology export, especially to China.
In 1979, Japan listed sensors as the first place in its “Technologies for the Next Decade”; The United States Department of Defense in 1985 announced the twenty military key technology, was listed as the fourteenth; Sensors are listed as key technologies in Star Wars plan, Eureka Plan, Military Spaceflight plan of the former Soviet Union, Britain, France, Germany and other countries’ development plans in the field of high technology, and their scientific research achievements, manufacturing technology and equipment are listed as national core technologies.
At present, there is a lack of international standards and norms, and no authoritative sensor standard type has been developed. It can only be divided into large categories such as simple physical sensors, chemical sensors and biosensors.
There are mainly the following types of sensor classification and naming:
(1) According to the conversion principle, it can be divided into physical sensors, chemical sensors and biological sensors.
(2) according to the detection information of the sensor, it can be divided into sound sensitive, photosensitive, thermal sensitive, force sensitive, magnetic sensitive, gas sensitive, moisture sensitive, pressure sensitive, ion sensitive and ray sensitive sensors.
(3) according to the power supply can be divided into active or passive sensor.
(4) according to its output signal can be divided into analog output, digital output and switching sensor.
(5) according to the materials used by the sensor can be divided into: semiconductor materials; Crystal material; Ceramic materials; Organic composite materials; Metal materials; Polymer materials; Superconducting materials; Optical fiber material; Nanomaterials and other sensors.
(6) According to the energy conversion can be divided into energy conversion sensor and energy control sensor.
(7) According to its manufacturing process, it can be divided into mechanical processing process; Composite and integration process; Film, thick film process; Ceramic sintering process; MEMS technology; Electrochemical process and other sensors.
There are about 26,000 kinds of sensor products in the world, and China has about 14,000 kinds of sensors, most of which are conventional types and varieties. More than 7,000 products can be productized, but there are still shortages and gaps in medical, scientific research, microbiology, chemical analysis and other special varieties, there is a large space for technological innovation.
Common basic technology and three technological innovation trends
As is known to all, due to the different mechanism of sensitive, sensitive materials, combined with the industrial field environment, usage scenarios, and tested medium and personalized parameters, structure complexity requirements and other characteristics, such as long sensor has been in a state of many varieties of small batch production, combined with the dispersion and the complexity of technology influence and equipment is expensive and so on factors, The industry calls its production process manufacturing “industrial crafts.”
Sensors in silicon valley in the United States, around based on MEMS technology, according to the needs of different industries and the function of product innovation of different packaging structure of the various sensors, has been going on for almost 25 years, the formation of various, a variety of products, all kinds of sensors to expanding application fields, the industry widely recognized and accepted.
As Dennis, founder of MEMS Technology in Silicon Valley, said: “For more than 20 years, Silicon Valley sensor products have been focused on MEMS chips based on silicon materials and market application needs in different industries, carrying out product competition and innovation in different structure forms of packaging.”
Therefore, MEMS technology is the common basic technology of various types of sensors, which is called the source of sensor innovation in the industry. In 2011, the US industry believed that MEMS technology was mature and could be widely promoted and applied, and established and formed innovations and breakthroughs in the sensor industry centering on MEMS technology and application in two directions:
First, innovation of sensitive mechanism and technological breakthrough. Improve the basic theory and application level of MEMS technology in materials and process structure, such as crystal and amorphous, various semiconductor materials; Technological innovation in silicon – silicon bonding process, silicon film process, metal film process and other fields has greatly improved the basic level of industrialization such as miniaturization, low cost, compound, integration of product production.
Second, the level of intelligence and application innovation. In the multi-functional integration, modular architecture, embedded capabilities, network interface and other forms of innovation and breakthrough. It has greatly improved the contradiction between production and application, built a bridge and technical channel between production and market application, and broken through the technical barriers and development bottlenecks formed in the production and application of the industry for a long time. At the same time, it also improves the ability of product selection and application design in various industries, greatly stimulating the application demand and expanding the market space.
Industrial ecological system and environmental construction
The key to sensor industrialization is to establish a flexible production system with standardized technology and product, find the supporting market for products, and completely change the isolation and fragmentation of technology and market by means of common basic technology and process.
According to MEMS technology and product market application characteristics, temperature sensitive, sound sensitive, force sensitive, light sensitive, gas sensitive, magnetic sensitive, frequency and other seven types of products are in line with the characteristics of industrial technology and market demand, can achieve industrial scale production.
Especially in the mobile phone, intelligent transportation, biological perception and other application areas with explosive growth, with a greater temptation. Rf components are still dominated by 95% European and American manufacturers, not even a single Asian manufacturer. In order to break the industry monopoly, it will become the focus of technological innovation and competition in the future.
Compared with foreign countries, the slow development of China’s sensor industry is mainly caused by the gap in understanding! Biased and one-sided understanding of sensors, lack of national strategic understanding height.
Because sensors belong to different industries and departments, there are multiple management, it is difficult to reach consensus on development, management chaos, lack of policy support leads to industrial dispersion, products can not become serialized.
More than 95% of the 1,200 enterprises belong to small and micro enterprises. On the one hand, they lack sufficient resources such as manpower, material resources and technological conditions, and the foundation of industrialization is weak. On the other hand, the market access threshold is too high, the lack of corresponding application development and technological innovation ability, the overall technical level and parameter performance index of the product, especially the reliability and stability index are 1-2 orders of magnitude lower than similar foreign products, can not meet the requirements of the market for enterprise qualification and supporting ability.
Third, the number of specialized enterprises in the industry is less than 3% due to the lack of leading enterprises and industry leadership, as well as the lack of international brands, market influence, competitive advantages and basic research capabilities. Core chips are mostly imported, and high-grade products are almost 100% imported. The overall technology level lags behind advanced foreign countries for 10 ~ 15 years.
In view of the domestic and foreign industry status and industry characteristics and existing problems, combined with the feature of sensor technology, the industry look forward to in the economic and technical advantage and developed regions, at home and abroad gathered dozens of the above sensor is a professional company and scientific research institutes, with product technology characteristics and industrialization scale advantage, and the influence of the international market or industry cluster base, To form an international sensor characteristic industrial park with annual sales of more than 100 billion yuan (15 billion US dollars) and annual growth rate of more than 20%.
Form with sensitive components as the core, intelligence, networking, modular integration applications such as for innovation main body, the Internet of things, the wisdom city for the application of industrial chain structure (ecological) industry, have a combination of government, production, study and research, use, take six dimensions of ecological environment, realize the industrial cluster development, formation of sensor “double ecological industry chain in China, The sensor Valley is an international sensor industrial park with obvious industrial characteristics and prominent location advantages.
There are three historical stages of sensor technology development
The first generation is a structural sensor, which uses the change of structural parameters to feel and transform signals. For example: resistance strain sensor, it is the use of metal material elastic deformation resistance changes to transform electrical signals.
The second generation sensor is a solid sensor developed in the 1970s. This sensor is composed of solid components such as semiconductor, dielectric and magnetic materials. It is made of certain characteristics of materials. Such as: the use of thermoelectric effect, Hall effect, photosensitive effect, respectively made of thermocouple sensor, Hall sensor, photosensitive sensor, etc..
In the late 1970s, with the development of integrated technology, molecular synthesis technology, microelectronics technology and computer technology, integrated sensors appear. Integrated sensors include two types: the integration of sensors themselves and the integration of sensors and subsequent circuits. For example: charge coupled device (CCD), integrated temperature sensor AD 590, integrated Hall sensor UG 3501 and so on.
These sensors are characterized by low cost, high reliability, good performance and flexible interface. The development of integrated sensors is very rapid, now accounts for about 2/3 of the sensor market, it is moving towards the direction of low price, multi-function and serialization.
The third generation sensor is an intelligent sensor just developed in the 1980s. The so-called intelligent sensor refers to its ability of detection, self-diagnosis, data processing and self-adaptation to external information. It is the product of the combination of microcomputer technology and detection technology.
In the 1980s, the intelligent measurement mainly takes the microprocessor as the core, integrates the sensor signal regulation circuit, the microcomputer, the memory and the interface into a chip, so that the sensor has certain artificial intelligence.
In the 1990s, the intelligent measurement technology has been further improved. The intelligent sensor has self-diagnosis function, memory function, multi-parameter measurement function and networking communication function.
The rise of sensors and industry development status
The unveiling of apple’s new iPhone 6 and smartwatch gave apple fans around the world another reason to queue overnight. What makes Apple’s phones more powerful is not just more powerful chips, but more and more sophisticated sensors.
It is the touch screen, gyroscope, accelerometer and other sensors that give the phone its magic.
Touch screen is a capacitive touch sensor. Gyroscopes and accelerometers are used to sense the phone’s position and movement. It’s the infrared proximity sensor that darkens the screen and turns off the touch screen when you press your ear against it to answer a phone call. The ambient light sensor automatically adjusts the screen brightness according to the ambient light intensity. And, of course, there are “compasses” for navigation, magnetoresistive sensors, and cameras made from photoelectric sensors.
The highlight of the event on September 9th was Apple’s breakthrough in the use of sensors. The iPhone 6 adds a combination of sensors, such as a sensor for air pressure that measures altitude, a near-field communication module that enables fingerprint payments, and a fingerprint sensor.
The four ring sensors on the back of the iWatch work by reflecting LED light onto the skin to determine blood vessel movement and detect the wearer’s pulse.
More and more sensors are becoming the eyes and ears of machines, not just mobile phones, but in cars, home appliances, wearables and industrial automation.
Less well understood by the general public is that sensors are also at the heart of the underlying technology of the Internet of Things, which is poised to bring even bigger changes to the way people live. Some scientists predict that sensors will fill every field and space in the future, just like the “five senses of the human body.”
At present, with the opening of the Internet of Things era, all kinds of sensors are becoming ubiquitous neurons, and the global demand for sensors also begins to show explosive growth. But on the eve of the party, the industry lamented that China seemed to be falling behind again.
Sensors mimic the body’s five senses
“The sensors are like your five senses.” Li Xinxin, director of the Joint State Key Laboratory of Sensor Technology at the Institute of Microsystems of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Caixin: “In the age of computers, humans have solved the problem of brain simulation, which is equivalent to using 0 and 1 to realize the digitalization of information, using Boolean logic to solve the problem. Now it’s the post-computer age, starting to simulate the five senses.
Sensors are often called transducers, which transform other information into electrical signals. It is usually composed of sensitive components and conversion components, which can transform the detected information into electrical signal output according to certain rules, in order to meet the requirements of information transmission, processing, storage, display, recording and control. Sensors, so to speak, bring objects to life by giving them senses like touch, taste and smell.
The development of sensors was first driven by industrial automation.
For the purpose of improving efficiency, industrial production began to control the parameters of each production node by the central control room, including the flow rate, level, temperature and pressure four parameters, spawned the development of sensors. This trend began in the 1970s and is now the most widely used form of sensor.
Dong Yonggui, a professor at the Department of precision Instruments at Tsinghua University, told Caixin that sensors existed in early measuring instruments before the concept of sensors “appeared”, but in the form of one component in a whole set of instruments. Therefore, in China before 1980, the textbook introducing sensors was called “Non-electric measurement”.
The sensor market is really driven by applications. For example, in the chemical industry, pressure and flow sensors market is quite large; Automotive industry, speed, acceleration and other sensors market is very large. The technology of acceleration sensor based on MEMS is more mature now, which makes great contribution to the demand of automobile industry.
MEMS(Micro-electro-mechanical Systems) refers to mass-produced micro-devices or Systems that integrate micro-mechanical structures, micro-sensors, micro-actuators, and communication. It is small in size, light in weight, low in cost, low in power consumption, high in reliability, suitable for mass production, easy to integrate and realize intelligent, but also can achieve some traditional mechanical sensors can not achieve the function.
Google has been working on self-driving cars for five years. Instead of accelerator pedals, brake pedals and rearview mirrors, the cars are controlled by internal sensors and on-board computers.
With the help of sensors, the Internet, which used to be about people to people, extends and expands into everything.
In 1999, the International Conference on Mobile Computing and Network held in the United States proposed that “sensor network is another development opportunity faced by mankind in the next century”. In 2003, the Us “Technology Review” put forward the sensor network technology will be the top ten technologies to change people’s life in the future.
In 2005, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) issued the ITU Internet Report 2005: Internet of Things. According to the report, the era of ubiquitous “Internet of Things” communications is on the horizon, where all objects in the world, from tires to toothbrushes, houses to paper towels, can be actively exchanged via the Internet. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, sensor technology, nanotechnology, intelligent embedding technology will be more widely used.
FORRESTER, an authoritative consulting firm in the United States, predicts that by 2020, the business of the Internet of things in the world will be 30 to 1 compared with the business of person-to-person communication. Therefore, “Internet of Things” is called the next trillion-level communication business.
M2M is the most direct way to realize the Internet of things by connecting things with things to achieve the real-time communication between people and things and between things.
M2M technology can ensure the safety of expensive goods in transit, monitor the location and temperature of refrigerated containers in transit, remotely diagnose the status of engines, and allow owners to receive real-time navigation and traffic information.
According to AT&T, there will be 50 billion M2M connections worldwide by 2020. In fact, as M2M solutions mature and the cost of communication and sensing equipment falls, iot will gradually penetrate various industries.
“Sensors are at the heart and foundation of the Internet of Things.” Ye Tianchun, director of the China Internet of Things Research and Development Center, told Caixin that without sensors, there is no way for machines to automatically sense information. It is with sensors joining the network that the concept of the Internet of Things has been proposed.
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