Semiconductor pressure sensors have limitations when used in hot environments. One of the most debilitating limitations is their susceptibility to electromagnetic interference. A new self-calibrated interfermetric intensity-based (SCIIB) sensor developed at the Virginia Tech Photonic Laboratory (VTPI) is immune to electromagnetic interference. It also resists chemical corrosion and withstands temperature above 482C—the temperature limit of sensors used in jet engines, power plants, and other hot environments. Sensors placed in a jet engine are expected to monitor sound pressure waves and warn the pilot about potential engine problems. The sensors are made using the fibers of a single crystal sapphire. The U.S. Department of Energy awarded VTPI's partner, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with funding to collaborate on the project and commercialize the sensors. Oak Ridge National Lab has a sapphire material processing and fabrication facility. For information call (540) 231-4363.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.