With the introduction of semiconductors and subsequently further microtechnology in sensors, the electro-precision measuring systems current in Central Europe were almost completely replaced by fully electronic systems. Today, the trend from the electromechanical macrosystem to the microsensor measuring system is largely completed. Moreover, the continuous miniaturization of measuring systems is developing more and more fields of application, for example in online analytics of chemical process automation.
Practically all state-of-the-art measuring systems make use of a combination of the most heterogeneous microtechnologies, thus inducing experts to consider sensors as one of the essential fields of application in microsystem technology. In view of this dynamic advance, sensor technology can even be deemed as one of the major driving forces in microsystem technology.
In the earlier days, microsystem technology consisted primarily of a series of semiconductor elements, microelectronics, and maybe a micro-actuator. Today, electronic signal processing is increasingly integrated in the sensor element, often including AD converters or further components in the measuring, testing, and automation chain. In other words, more and more electronic signal processing is done on site at the measuring medium itself. At the same time, the concept of microsystem technology has expanded to include other technologies. Thus, we find approaches today to link microsensors, micro-actuation, micromechanics, micro-electronics, semiconductor technologies, microfuidics, and micro-optics. These trends culminate in the Modular Microsensors activities of the AMA Association.
It must be emphasized that the strength of the Central European sensor industry – especially in Germany and Switzerland with its tradition of precision mechanics – is due to the diversity of the technological methods employed. This made it possible to provide users with the most suitable measuring systems for their applications.