Thermodynamics of sensors

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The process of measurement with a sensor is described in terms of classical thermodynamics. On theoretical grounds, the relevant phenomenon in this context must be a change of state of the system. From the first law of thermodynamics, it follows that sensors are either reversible or irreversible. These classes exhibit some general differences.

The second law of thermodynamics is applied to a measurement process and a fundamental resolution limitation posed by the available free energy is evaluated. This resolution limit is relevant in very small systems.

On the basis of the free energy concept, a quantitative definition of conventional signal energy domains is given. This division can be made in various way, but the one chosen here gives a practical method of writing down the relevant equations describing a sensor system.

By extending classical thermodynamics, the effect of a sensor on the measurement result is estimated at the limit of a slow process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-178
JournalSensors and Actuators
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1989
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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