Entry ID #: 8973
Created: Tue, Dec 8, 2020 8:52 AM
All About Sensors discussion with Dr. Ted
Emiliano, Leo, and Max are three elementary school students working on their VEX IQ Challenge 2020. In this challenge, the research project is focusing on learning sensors.
Here is the detail for the challenge.
Kids have been using color sensors, gyro finders, etc. in their VEX robot building or other Lego challenges before. But they want to know more about the application of sensors in daily life and scientific researches. Below is a list of questions they have been coming up within their study of sensors. Their perspective of sensors is more from robotic projects or some other daily activities. It would be great to learn more from you about how the sensors are used in the scientific fields.
1. What are some things that you use in daily life that you don't expect to have a sensor in but they do?
2. What are a few of the most commonly used sensors?
3. Are sensors very complicated?
4. What do we use daily that could benefit from sensors?
5. How could sensors keep us safe?
6. What are some new sensors being developed and what are they used for?
7. What sensors do you use for your research?
8. How does the accuracy of the sensors affect your research?
Please see the attached video to learn more about sensors from Dr. Ted.
Emiliano, Leo, and Max
Links / Videos
1. What are some things that you use in daily life that you don't expect to have a sensor in but they do? The smoke detector at home is one example. Or the Apple Watch I wear has motion sensors in it that would tell me when I am about to fall. The night light at home has a motion sensor in it that would turn the light on when someone walks by. The tire in the car has a pressure sensor that would give a warning when the pressure is low in the tire. 2. What are a few of the most commonly used sensors? The most common one is the pin diodes. A pin diode detects photons and converts them into electric currents. In the camera, the CCD is working like pin diodes. These are all based on the same principle discovered by Einstein of the photoelectric effect. 3. Are sensors very complicated? Not really. At a fundamental level, they are all based on the same simple principle. The design of the sensor could be simple such as remote control for a TV. But the design for sensors we use in scientific research that is sensitive down to picosecond level has very sophisticated requirements. 4. What do we use daily that could benefit from sensors? Driving an automobile will benefit a lot in the future. Tesla has a lot of sensors in the car to collect data that helps optimize the system to improve automatic functions. When you go to college, you may not need to learn to drive a car anymore, all you need to do is press buttons. 5. How could sensors keep us safe? Driving is the best example. If we depend very much on humans for driving, there are many drivers who don’t drive well. People also get tired of driving. Automatic driving can largely improve the safety of driving. Actually, airplanes are safer than cars because there are more sensors and automation used in planes. 6. What are some new sensors being developed and what are they used for? There are not many new ones based on the new principal. But the ones like Lidar are an example that old principles find new applications in our life. There are also new sensors that are very sophisticated but not yet popular in our daily life. 7. What sensors do you use for your research? The ones that I am working on right now are called silicon-based detectors detecting charged particles. We are developing a new sensor that not only detects the position of the charged particle but also the timing information of the charged particle. This will be the first generation of detectors that can detect both space and time of particles in a collider. 8. How does the accuracy of the sensors affect your research? In order to find out exactly where the particles are generated in the particle collision and distinguish them from each other. These particles are only centimeters apart. Light travels in a centimeter in a few picoseconds. So we need to precisely measure the time information down to the picosecond precisions to be able to distinguish these particles.