From Sensor Technology Handbook

Craig Aszkler, Vibration Products Division Manager, PCB Piezotronics, Inc.

5.1 Introduction

Accelerometers are sensing transducers that provide an output proportional to acceleration, vibration [1] and shock. These sensors have found a wide variety of applications in both research and development arenas along with everyday use. In addition to the very technical test and measurement applications, such as modal analysis, NVH (noise vibration and harshness), and package testing, accelerometers are also used in everyday devices such as airbag sensors and automotive security alarms. Whenever a structure moves, it experiences acceleration. Measurement of this acceleration helps us gain a better understanding of the dynamic characteristics that govern the behavior of the object. Modeling the behavior of a structure provides a valuable technical tool that can then be used to modify response, to enhance ruggedness, improve durability or reduce the associated noise and vibration.

The most popular class of accelerometers is the piezoelectric accelerometer. This type of sensor is capable of measuring a wide range of dynamic events. However, many other classes of accelerometers exist that are used to measure constant or very low frequency acceleration such as automobile braking, elevator ride quality and even the gravitational pull of the earth. Such accelerometers rely on piezoresistive, capacitive and servo technologies.

[1] For information on machinery vibration monitoring, refer to Chapter 13.

5.2 Technology Fundamentals

Piezoelectric Accelerometer

Piezoelectric accelerometers are self-generating devices characterized by an extended region of flat frequency response range, a large linear amplitude range and excellent durability. These inherent...

Products & Services
Accelerometers are instruments for measuring, displaying, and analyzing acceleration and vibration.
Shock and Impact Sensors
Shock and impact sensors are devices that detect sudden or severe impacts at a predetermined level and indicate whether the level has been exceeded.
Piezoelectric Sensors
Piezoelectric sensors measure the electrical potential caused by applying mechanical force to a piezoelectric material. They are used in a variety of pressure-sensing applications.
Vibration and Acceleration Signal Conditioners
Vibration signal conditioners and acceleration signal conditioners accept the output of devices that are designed specifically for vibration or acceleration measurement. They convert or condition these signals to digital data, or suitable levels for digitization.
Shaker Controllers
Shaker controllers are hardware/software devices that generate one or more analog drive signals that are applied to an amplifier / shaker / test device for the purpose of creating a specified vibration environment at one or more points on a test device.

Topics of Interest

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4.6 Acceleration Transducers Acceleration transducers or accelerometers use piezoelectric, strain gauge, variable reluctance, or integrated circuit technology as basic principles of operation. 4.6.1...

The classic Piezoelectric Accelerometer is the most commonly used transducer in the vibration world today. These accelerometers are inexpensive, come in a variety of packages, and easy/forgiving to...

Chapter written by Andr MIGEON and Anne-Elisabeth LENEL. 5.1. Introduction Accelerometers have existed for several decades and they are always in constant evolution because they influence the...