10 May 2006 Highly reliable multisensor array (MSA) smart transducers
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Many developments in the field of multisensor array (MSA) transducers have taken place in the last few years. Advancements in fabrication technology, such as Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) and nanotechnology, have made implementation of MSA devices a reality. NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has been developing this type of technology because of the increases in safety, reliability, and performance and the reduction in operational and maintenance costs that can be achieved with these devices. To demonstrate the MSA technology benefits, KSC quantified the relationship between the number of sensors (N) and the associated improvement in sensor life and reliability. A software algorithm was developed to monitor and assess the health of each element and the overall MSA. Furthermore, the software algorithm implemented criteria on how these elements would contribute to the MSA-calculated output to ensure required performance. The hypothesis was that a greater number of statistically independent sensor elements would provide a measurable increase in measurement reliability. A computer simulation was created to answer this question. An array of N sensors underwent random failures in the simulation and a life extension factor (LEF equals the percentage of the life of a single sensor) was calculated by the program. When LEF was plotted as a function of N, a quasiexponential behavior was detected with marginal improvement above N = 30. The hypothesis and follow-on simulation results were then corroborated experimentally. An array composed of eight independent pressure sensors was fabricated. To accelerate sensor life cycle and failure and to simulate degradation over time, the MSA was exposed to an environmental tem-perature of 125°C. Every 24 hours, the experiment's environmental temperature was returned to ambient temperature (27°C), and the outputs of all the MSA sensor elements were measured. Once per week, the MSA calibration was verified at five different pressure points. Results from the experiment correlated with the results obtained in the computer simulation, in which the overall LEF of the MSA transducer was extended. Furthermore, it was concluded that the MSA approach was capable of extending calibration cycle times at least three times when compared to single-element transducers. These characteristics provided not only an increase in sensor reliability but also a reduction in operational and maintenance costs.
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José Perotti, Angel Lucena, Paul Mackey, Carlos Mata, Christopher Immer, "Highly reliable multisensor array (MSA) smart transducers", Proc. SPIE 6222, Sensors for Propulsion Measurement Applications, 62220J (10 May 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.669697; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.669697

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