Sensor Technology

auto_sensor_applications The market for sensors is expanding at a phenomenal rate, with increasing demands on design engineers to innovate and integrate. A sensor is a device that detects and responds to some type of input from the physical environment. The specific input could be light, heat, motion, moisture, pressure, or any one of a great number of other environmental phenomena. The output is generally a signal that is converted to human-readable display at the sensor location or transmitted electronically over a network for reading or further processing.

  • Intelligent Sensors and Sensor Hubs
  • 6-Axis Sensors
  • Accelerometers
  • Angular Sensors
  • Capacitive Sensors
  • Gyroscopes
  • Magnetometers
  • Rotational Sensors
  • Temperature Sensors
  • Pressure Sensors
  • Touch Sensors
  • I2C Temperature/Voltage Monitors

Accelerometers, Gyros, & Compasses

Measure acceleration and track rotation with these accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses/magnetometers, and combined inertial measurement units (IMUs) and orientation sensors.

Range Finders

Proximity Sensors and Range Finders

This assortment of optical and sonar sensors can be used to detect the presence of objects or measure the distances to them.

Proximity Sensors

Pololu QTR Reflectance Sensors

These sensors use pairs of infrared LEDs and phototransistors to measure how much of the emitted IR light is being reflected from a nearby surface. They are great for edge detection and line following.

Current Sensors

Current Sensors

An assortment of unidirectional and bidirectional Hall effect-based current sensors. They offer a very low-resistance current path and electrical isolation between the current source and the measuring circuit. You can use these sensors to monitor your motor current, detect current spikes, or even to make inexpensive current probes for your oscilloscope.


Force-Sensing Resistors and Linear Potentiometers

These FSRs and FSLPs from Interlink Electronics can sense the magnitude, and in some cases the location, of an applied force, enabling unique touch interfaces and tactile sensors.

Environmental Sensors

Environmental Sensors

Sensors for measuring environmental properties/weather like barometric pressure, relative humidity, luminosity, and temperature.


Gas Sensors

Want to build your own breathalyzer? This variety of semiconductor gas sensors makes it possible to measure concentrations of gasses such as alcohol, methane, propane, butane, and carbon monoxide.



These quadrature encoders can be used to add speed and position feedback to an assortment of our motors with extended motor shafts.

by Method/Principle

Temperature sensors  Temperature
 Thermistors : The resistance changes with the temperature.
Infrared sensors  Infrared/Light
 Pyroelectric infrared sensors : The sensor reacts to the infrared radiation emitted from the human body to output an electric charge.
 Ambient light sensors : The built-in photo diode detects ambient light and infrared light.
Distance sensors   Distance
 Ultrasonic sensors : The sensor sends and receives ultrasonic waves in order to detect distances from the state of the reflected wave.
Proximity sensors

 Proximity sensors : The sensor sends and receives infrared light in order to detect the proximity from the state of the reflected light.
 Magnetic switches : This switch switches built-in ICs when the magnetoresistive element detects the magnetic proximity.

 Inertial force
 Shock sensors : This sensor generates an electric charge according to the acceleration (stress) applied to the piezoelectric element.
 Accelerometers : This sensor detects the acceleration from the change of the capacitance which occurs in the 3DMEMS element.
 Inclinometers : This sensor detects the gravitational acceleration of the Earth to calculate the angle of gradient.
 Gyro Sensors : This sensor detects the angular velocity from the change in the capacitance which occurs in the 3DMEMS element.
Pressure sensors  Pressure
 Barometric pressure sensors : This sensor detects the atmospheric pressure applied to the 3DMEMS element by the capacitance.
Magnetic sensors

 Rotary sensors : This sensor detects the motion of magnetic gears by a built-in magnet and magnetoresistive element.
 Magnetic switches : This switch switches built-in ICs when the magnetoresistive element detects magnetism.
 Magnetic pattern Recognition sensors : This sensor identifies magnetic ink by the combination of a built-in magnet and magnetoresistive element.
Angle sensors Angle
 Rotary position sensors : The resistance changes in proportion to the angle. 
Top Sensors Manufacturers
  • Bosch
  • TI
  • HP
  • STMicroelectronics
  • Infineon
  • Alpha Sensor Inc (formally Alpha Thermistors), Precision thermistors to + - 0.1C
  • Alpha Wire Company, Thermocouple and other wire and accessories. Site has much useful info on wire and cable
  • Andigilog Inc, Semiconductor analog and digital temperature sensors
  • Analog Devices Inc. Semiconductor temperature sensors, home of the AD590 and other sensors
  • BetaTHERM Corp, Thermistor manufacturer, now part of Measurment Specialists
  • Concept Alloys LLC, Manufacturer of Hoskins' Alloys for thermocouples, especially tungsten-rhenium wire
  • Cornerstone Sensors Inc, Thermistor manufacturer.
  • Dallas Semiconductor Corp, Digital semiconductor temperature sensors with novel twists. Now part of Maxim
  • Exergen Corp, A firm that specializes in thermopile infared temperature sensors for industrial and medical use
  • GE Sensing, International supplier of a wide range of sensors, including thermocouples and thermistors
  • Heraeus Sensor Technology , Manufacturer of film based sensors.
  • Honeywell - Micro Switch Sensing and Control. Temperature, pressure and air flow sensors
  • IRCON Inc, Manufacturers of non-contact infrared thermometers.
  • Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc., Cryogenic temperature sensors of all types. A useful where minus 200C is hot!
  • Linear Technology , Alternate source for LM336 semiconductor temperature sensor
  • Luxtron Corporation, Manufacturers of specialist temperature measuring equipment
  • Maxim Integrated Products Inc, Semiconductor digital temperature sensors. Also see Dallas Semiconductor.
  • Measurement Specialists Inc. Manufacturers of a wide range of sensors via BetaTherm and YSI Temperature.
  • Mikron Instrument Co. Inc. Manufacturers of a wide range of non-contact temperature sensors.
  • Minco Products, Inc. Manufacturers of RTD sensor elements and assemblies
  • Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd, or
  • Murata Electronics North America Inc. Sensors elements, especially for high volume consumer products
  • Nanmac Corp, Thermocouples and RTDs, including interesting erroding rapid response surface temperature types
  • National Semiconductor Corporation, Semiconductor sensors including workhorses LM35, LM45, LM50 etc.
  • Omega Engineering Inc, Good range of sensors, associated accessories and reference material
  • Philips Electronics NV Silicon RTDs and semiconductor types
  • Probes Unlimited Inc, OEM supplier of RTDs, thermocouples and thermistors.
  • Pyromation Inc., Industrial thermocouples, RTD and thermistors
  • Quality Thermistor, Inc, Manufactures of thermistors
  • Raytek Corp., Manufacturers of a good range of non-contact temperature sensors and hand-held units
  • Sanjac Instrument & Meter Co Ltd, Wide range of thermocouple, RTD and Non-contact temperature sensors.
  • Seiko Instruments Inc, Temperature sensors aimed at the consumer products. Also try this site.
  • Siemens. Thermistors and silicon RTDs.
  • Solvay & Cie SA, Solvay Technologies Inc, Manufacture of Solef pyroelectric PVDF films
  • Special Metals Wiggin Ltd., Thermocouple wire and sheaths, N type thermocouple a specialty.
  • Telcom Semiconductor, Manufacturer of semiconductor temperature sensors and thermostats
  • Temati (Business Logistix Ltd.) , High stability carbon-ceramic cryogenic temperature sensors
  • Texas Instruments Inc. Digital temperature sensors
  • Thermal Component Technologies, Manufacturer & supplier of temperature sensors to Australasian market
  • Thermal Detection Ltd, Manufacturer of quality industrial and pharmaceutical thermocouples and RTDs
  • Therm-O-Disc, Inc, Manufacturers of bimetal disc thermostats, thermal cutoffs, PTC and NTC thermistors
  • Thermometrics, Inc. Wide range of thermistor and varistor products.
  • U.S. Sensor Corp. Manufacturer of an extensive variety of thermistors and thermistor probes
  • Victory Engineering Corp. NTC Thermistors, varistors, and Hygristors humidity sensors.
  • YSI Temperature Inc. Precision thermistors to + - 0.1C, now part of Measurement Specialists.