Theory of Capacitive Proximity Sensors | How they Works?

 Capacitive Proximity Sensors | How Capacitive Proximity Sensors Works?


This knowledge of Sensors will help you better understand customer applications. In addition, you will be better able to describe products to
customers and determine important differences between products. You should know Basics of Electricity and Basics of Control Components before attempting Sensors. 

Today we learn the Theory of Capacitive Proximity Sensors and how they work? Let’s Start.

Capacitive proximity sensors are similar to inductive proximity sensors. The main difference between the two types is that capacitive proximity sensors produce an electrostatic field instead of an electromagnetic field. Capacitive proximity switches will sense metal as well as nonmetallic materials such as paper, glass, liquids, and cloth.

Capacitive Proximity Sensors
Capacitive Proximity Sensors

The sensing surface of a capacitive sensor is formed by two concentrically shaped metal electrodes of an unwound capacitor. When an object nears the sensing surface it enters the electrostatic field of the electrodes and changes the capacitance in an oscillator circuit. As a result, the oscillator begins oscillating. The trigger circuit reads the oscillator’s amplitude and when it reaches a specific level the output state of the sensor changes. As the target moves away from the sensor the oscillator’s amplitude decreases, switching the sensor output back to its original state.



Standard Target and Dielectric Constant

Standard targets are specified for each capacitive sensor. The standard target is usually defined as metal and/or water. Capacitive sensors depend on
the dielectric constant of the target. The larger the dielectric number of a material the easier it is to detect. The following graph shows the relationship
of the dielectric constant of a target and the sensor’s ability to detect the material based on the rated sensing distance (Sr).


The following table shows the dielectric constants of some materials. If, for example, a capacitive sensor has a rated sensing distance of 10 mm and
the target is alcohol, the effective sensing distance (Sr) is approximately 85% of the rated distance, or 8.5 mm.



Detection through Barriers

One application for capacitive proximity sensors is level detection through a barrier. For example, water has a much higher dielectric than
plastic. This gives the sensor the ability to “see through” the plastic and detect the water.


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