Smallest pressure sensor, from mining to Everest's peak

12th November 2014
Jacqueline Regnier

STMicroelectronics has extended its portfolio of environmental sensors with a MEMS pressure sensor that breaks new ground in combining high accuracy and robustness with small physical size; the LPS22HB is the world's smallest pressure sensor.

The LPS22HB is not only the world's smallest pressure sensor, but also the only one offered in a fully moulded package that provides the best thermal and mechanical robustness (high shock survivability of over 20,000g) while boosting the performance and offering the best trade-off between current consumption and noise. This is because it is built using ST's new MEMS technology called "Bastille" that allows the use of fully moulded HLGA (Holed Land Grid Array) packages, resulting in the smallest footprint measuring just 2x2mm and a thickness of just 0.8mm. Already proven in ST's LPS25HB 2.5x2.5mm pressure sensor, this revolutionary technology eliminates the need for a metallic or plastic cap, as well as any additional mechanical grid for isolation, as it is dust-free and water-resistant by design.

Pressure sensors are increasingly being used in smartphones, tablets and wearable technology such as sports watches, smart watches, and fitness bands, enabling accurate floor detection and enhanced location-based services, allowing more accurate dead-reckoning calculations, and opening the door to new smartphone apps such as weather analysers and health and sports monitors. For this reason, market analyst IHS estimates that the global market for pressure sensors for consumer electronic applications will reach almost 1bn units by 2018.

"Leveraging our proprietary industry-leading MEMS technology, our advanced packaging expertise, and our ASIC design skills, ST has created in the LPS22HB a unique pressure sensor housed in a fully moulded package with a volume of only 3mm³," said Francesco Italia, General Manager, High-End Sensor and Analog Division, STMicroelectronics. "Once again, we are raising the bar in sensors, enabling our customers to offer even more value to their own customers."

Key technical features of the new pressure sensor include enhanced temperature compensation that allows apps to perform consistently in changing environments, an absolute pressure range from 260 to 1260hPa that covers all possible user altitudes (from the deepest mines to the top of Mount Everest), low power consumption less than 5μA, and pressure noise lower than 1Pa RMS.

Samples of the LPS22HB are available now for OEMs, with volume production scheduled for mid-to-late-2015. Subsequently, the distribution price will be $1.40 for 1,000 pieces.

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