Electronics have made their way into every aspect of life, including pressure measurement devices. Modern pressure sensors, called pressure transducers, use various techniques to convert the pressure effect to an electrical effect such as a change in voltage, resistance, or capacitance. Pressure transducers are smaller and faster, and they can be more sensitive, reliable, and precise than their mechanical counterparts. They can measure pressures from less than a millionth of 1 atm to several thousands of atm.
A wide variety of pressure transducers is available to measure gage, absolute, and differential pressures in a wide range of applications. Gage pressure transducers use the atmospheric pressure as a reference by venting the back side of the pressure-sensing diaphragm to the atmosphere, and they give a zero signal output at atmospheric pressure regardless of altitude. The absolute pressure transducers are calibrated to have a zero signal output at full vacuum. Differential pressure transducers measure the pressure difference between two locations directly instead of using two pressure transducers and taking their difference.
Strain-gage pressure transducers work by having a diaphragm deflect between two chambers open to the pressure inputs. As the diaphragm stretches in response to a change in pressure difference across it, the strain gage stretches and a Wheatstone bridge circuit amplifies the output. A capacitance transducer works similarly, but capacitance change is measured instead of resistance change as the diaphragm stretches.
Piezoelectric transducers, also called solid-state pressure transducers, work on the principle that an electric potential is generated in a crystalline substance when it is subjected to mechanical pressure. This phenomenon, first discovered by brothers Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880, is called the piezoelectric (or press-electric) effect. Piezoelectric pressure transducers have a much faster frequency response compared to the diaphragm units and are very suitable for high-pressure applications, but they are generally not as sensitive as the diaphragm-type transducers.
Reference: Thermodynamics – An Engineering Approach 5th Edition by: Yunus A. Cengel and Michale A. Boles