Silicon by virtue of its electrical and mechanical properties is eminently suited for use in mechanical and other types of sensors. The integration of these sensors with signal conditioning circuits is being used to develop a wide variety of cost effective devices for use in automotive applications.
A number of micromachining techniques and methods of converting mechanical force to electrical signals are available. Each of these must be evaluated for ease of integration with respect to the types of signal conditioning that are required to obtain the most cost effective system solution. Additional factors that have to be considered are analog versus digital outputs, temperature operating range, linearity, self test features, reliability, packaging, testing and assembly problems. This paper will explore and evaluate these features for silicon pressure, position and acceleration (crash) sensors developed for automotive applications.