(also known as transducers
when they both send and receive) work on a principle similar to radar or sonar which evaluate attributes of a target by interpreting the echoes from radio or sound waves respectively. Ultrasonic sensors generate high frequency sound waves and evaluate the echo which is received back by the sensor. Sensors calculate the time interval between sending the signal and receiving the echo to determine the distance to an object.
This technology can be used for measuring: wind speed and direction (anemometer), fullness of a tank, and speed through air or water. For measuring speed or direction a device uses multiple detectors and calculates the speed from the relative distances to particulates in the air or water. To measure the amount of liquid in a tank, the sensor measures the distance to the surface of the fluid. Further applications include: humidifiers, sonar, medical ultrasonography, burglar alarms, and non-destructive testing.
Systems typically use a transducer which generates sound waves in the ultrasonic range, above 20,000 hertz, by turning electrical energy into sound, then upon receiving the echo turn the sound waves into electrical energy which can be measured and displayed.
The technology is limited by the shapes of surfaces and the density or consistency of the material. For example foam on the surface of a fluid in a tank could distort a reading.
An ultrasonic transducer is a device that converts energy into ultrasound
, or sound waves above the normal range of human hearing. While technically a dog whistle
is an ultrasonic transducer that converts mechanical energy in the form of air pressure into ultrasonic sound waves, the term is more apt to be used to refer to piezoelectric transducers
that convert electrical energy into sound. Piezoelectric crystals have the property of changing size when a voltage
is applied, thus applying an alternating voltages (AC
) across them causes them to oscillate at very high frequencies, thus producing very high frequency sound waves.
Since piezoelectric crystals generate a voltage when force is applied to them, the same crystal can be used as an ultrasonic detector. Some systems use separate transmitter and receiver components while others combine both in a single piezoelectric transceiver.
Alternative methods for creating and detecting ultrasound include magnetostriction and capacitive actuation.
Use in medicine
Medical ultrasonic transducers (probes) come in a variety of different shapes and sizes for use in making pictures of different parts of the body. The transducer may be passed over the surface of the body or inserted into an body opening such as the rectum or vagina. Clinicians who perform ultrasound-guided procedures often use a probe positioning system to hold the ultrasonic transducer.
- Ultrasonic Acoustic Sensing Brown University
- Ultrasonic Doppler Sensor for Measuring Vehicle Speed in Forward and Reverse Motions Including Low Speed Motions K. Imou, M. Ishida, T. Okamoto, Y. Kaizu, A. Sawamura, N. Sumida, University of Tokyo
- Laser Ultrasonic Sensor Streamlines Papermaking Process, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Dan Krotz
- Ultrasonic Flaw Detection for Technicians, Chapter 2, 3rd ed., 2004 by J. C. Drury (~5 pages)
- Measure distance using the ultrasonic sensor
- Ultra Technology More uniform fibre distribution in paper with ultrasonics in the paper machine wet end.
- Ultrasound transducer entry in the public domain NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms
- Ultrasonic Transmitter and Receiver circuit diagram