Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 23-6 - 19

Fig. 2. Ten years of sensors evolution: market and the most recent research
activity (source: Scopus).

Fig. 1. Market increment between 2017 and the estimation for the year 2020.

technologies that can be found in literature. Nevertheless, they
are representative of some research directions that will likely
contribute to innovation in the sensor scenario.

mature and have already been adopted by the industry and are
MEMS-based Sensors
entering real-life applications.
Focusing the attention on the market, considering the pe- Focusing attention on small scale devices, integrated sensors,
riod from 2010 to 2020, the sensors trend has seen an increase and micromachined transducers, it should be noted that in less
in sales from about $4 billion (in 2010) to more than $30 bil- than twenty years, MEMS technology received much more
lion (estimated in 2020) [7]. Fig. 1 shows the market evolution interest from academic and industry than centimeter-scale
between 2017 and the corresponding estimation for the year sensors, considering the possibility to create tiny and "micro2020. More specifically, the investigation is detailed according scopic" integrated devices with intriguing mechanical and
to the sensor typologies. The bubble size indicates the market electrical properties. In the most general form, MEMS consist of mechanical microstructures and microsensors, able to
volume for each specific sensor typology for the year 2017 [8].
Regarding the environmental impact, it should be noted measure physical quantities (e.g., displacement, temperature,
that increasing device complexity and performance very often magnetic/electromagnetic field, chemical entities and presmeans greater amounts of energy required for the sensor pro- sure) through the adoption of some transduction principles
duction. In particular, for an electronic device (i.e., commercial such as resistive (by using piezoresistive layers), piezoelectric
smart devices) which includes sensors, battery, and condition- (e.g., by using AlN embedded materials), capacitive (such as
ing circuitry, the greenhouse gas emission involves 80% for the through metal layers and integrated plates), and optical techproduction of the devices, 16% for the customer use, 3% for the nology (by using reflectance/transmittance of a light wave
transport, and 1% for recycling [9]. Moreover, environmental at fixed wavelength). Fig. 3 shows some devices with these
issues are raised from the end of life fate of un-green sensing characteristics. It is worth noting that through MEMS, it is possible to fabricate novel devices, often with higher performance
systems.
Fig. 2 shows ten years of sensors' evolution, including the than macroscale prototypes. Advantages of reduced size,
market growth and the research activity linked with
the environmental aspect
of sensors' technologies.
It is possible to observe
that both the curves grow
at a very high rate and
show a similar trend, giving evidence of the interest
toward environmental issues raised by sensors'
adoption.
In the next sections,
some sensing technologies
which have been investigated by the authors will be
presented. Of course, the
devices described are not
Fig. 3. Examples of some MEMS technologies and related devices.
exhaustive of new sensing
September 2020	

IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine	19



Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine 23-6

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