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NimbleSense™ Architecture

The Industry’s Most Advanced Pressure Sensing System

The Technology Behind Superior’s Pressure Sensors

Traditional Piezoresistive MEMS Pressure Sensors

Piezoresistive microelectromechanical (MEMS) pressure sensors combine piezoresistive sensing with MEMS design and processing to create one of the most dominant and useful pressure sensing/measuring techniques. Additional circuitry has always been required to make the sensor’s output useful for measurements or control. However, major enhancements to this core pressure sensing technique were required to create Superior Sensor Technology’s advanced pressure sensing system (APSS).

Piezoresistive MEMS pressure sensors are mass produced by etching or micromachining hundreds of thin pressure sensitive diaphragms (membranes) from a silicon wafer. Integrated circuit (IC) processing is used to form four piezoresistive (pressure sensitive resistor) sensors on the surface of the silicon wafer for each etched diaphragm creating an integrated piezoresistive pressure sensor. The design of the diaphragm and the piezoresistors, including their location and configuration, normally determines the useful range of the pressure sensor. Connecting the four resistors to form a Wheatstone bridge allows the measurement of very small changes in resistance due to the strain on the diaphragm and translate the changes into an output voltage. Three elements, the etched diaphragm, four piezoresistors and a Wheatstone bridge configuration, provide the basis or core of piezoresistive MEMS pressure sensors.

Piezoresistive MEMS pressure sensors are mass produced by etching or micromachining hundreds of thin pressure sensitive diaphragms (membranes) from a silicon wafer. Integrated circuit (IC) processing is used to form four piezoresistive (pressure sensitive resistor) sensors on the surface of the silicon wafer for each etched diaphragm creating an integrated piezoresistive pressure sensor. The design of the diaphragm and the piezoresistors, including their location and configuration, normally determines the useful range of the pressure sensor. Connecting the four resistors to form a Wheatstone bridge allows the measurement of very small changes in resistance due to the strain on the diaphragm and translate the changes into an output voltage. Three elements, the etched diaphragm, four piezoresistors and a Wheatstone bridge configuration, provide the basis or core of piezoresistive MEMS pressure sensors.

To provide the digital interface and make the piezoresistive MEMS pressure sensor useful and achieve the temperature stability, zero and full-scale calibration accuracy required in target applications, additional circuitry is required. This circuitry is commonly implemented at the sensor packaging level in many traditional sensors. Unfortunately, the traditional pressure sensor approach lacks the performance required for many demanding applications. This necessitates that customers add their own custom hardware and software to achieve their design goals. Superior Sensor Technology’s NimbleSense™ architecture builds on the traditional pressure design to provide a higher-performance, application-specific solution.

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NimbleSense – The Superior Architecture for Sensing Pressure

Using Superior Sensor Technology’s proprietary NimbleSense architecture allows highly differentiated advanced pressure sensing systems to be created from a design toolbox of technology building blocks, greatly improving system performance in the end application, while providing enhanced features and cost-optimized manufacturing solutions. We call this fully integrated platform the industry’s first System-in-a-Sensor.

The NimbleSense architecture incorporates processing intelligence with signal path integration and proprietary algorithms to provide sensor sub-system integration with maximized sensor performance. Choosing from a smorgasbord of proven and tested building blocks, Superior Sensor Technology design experts integrate the appropriate blocks into a pressure sensor sub-system to achieve optimized performance for the customer’s application requirements.

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These different pieces provide significant design flexibility to satisfy customer goals. With these highly-integrated subsystems, a user can quickly and easily develop the pressure sensing solution required in their specific end product by simply adding a few low-cost external components. The plethora of technology building blocks in the NimbleSense architecture enables a 5 to 10x performance increase as well as a variety of application-specific features.

Technology Building Blocks

Flexibility is at the core of the NimbleSense architecture and the System-in-a-Sensor approach. This unique technology allows you to quickly prototype and design the sensor into your product, support multiple product lines with one particular sensor, add new capabilities and application specific features and reduce system cost through lower component count and greater product reliability. Based heavily on customer feedback, the Superior Sensor Technology engineering team is constantly innovating and introducing new building blocks in the NimbleSense architecture.

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Multi-Range™: Multi-range capability allows a single sensor unit to be factory calibrated and performance optimized to support up to 8 different pressure ranges. This feature is beneficial across all our market segments.

Z-Track™: Z-Track employs a proprietary algorithm to virtually eliminate zero drift. Zero error reduction is critical in medical devices such as Spirometers, where an inaccurate reading can have life changing consequences.

Closed Loop Control (CLC): CLC adds capabilities to set and maintain flow rates via pressure management by directly controlling motors, valves and actuators. CLC is of extreme value in medical respiratory devices such as ventilators and CPAP.

Advanced Digital Filtering: Our advanced digital filtering is optimized for each application to ensure mixed sampling noise is kept well below the noise floor. By removing the mechanical noise, we maximize overall system performance.

50/60Hz Notch Filter: Superior Sensors’s notch filter allows designers to easily remove noise at either 50Hz or 60Hz that can impact overall system performance. Commonly used in HVAC applications, our integrated notch filter simplifies system design.

Self Aware™: Self Aware sensor technology tracks changes in error levels and generates a notification prior to a system alarm incident. Extremely valuable in devices such as ventilators, Self Aware reduces critical care alarm incidents up to 1000X.

Application examples enabled by the NimbleSense architecture’s building block approach include:

HVAC DPT: Multi-Range, 50/60 Hz Notch Filter

Spirometry: Z-Track, Proprietary Zero-Noise Suppression

Air Quality: Advanced Digital Filtering, Closed Loop Control

CPAP/BiPAP: Advanced Digital Filtering, Closed Loop Control

Industrial: Advanced Digital Filtering, Multi-Range, 50/60 Hz Notch Filter

Benefits of the NimbleSense Architecture:

  1. Industry leading performance with up to 10X improvement in Total Error Band (TEB) and accuracy
  2. Fully integrated sensor, ADC and DSP
  3. Optimized for specific end-user applications
  4. Simplifies the system architecture for the overall product
  5. Reduces design cycle time
  6. Lowers overall manufacturing and inventory costs

Starting Your Next Design with Superior Sensor Technology

To take advantage of the newest approach to pressure sensing systems technology for your next design, contact Superior Sensor Technology or ask your local distributor for contact information.

NimbleSense, Multi-Range, Z-Track and Self-Aware are trademarks of Superior Sensor Technology.

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