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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DETECTING AN OPEN CIRCUIT STATE IN A PIEZOELECTRIC ELEMENT CONNECTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/058420
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The proposed method for detecting an open circuit state failure in a piezoelectric element connection comprises exciting the piezoelectric element with an electrical excitation signal in the form of a pulse train whose frequency is chosen such that the piezoelectric element acts as a low pass filter, and monitoring and evaluating an electrical output signal generated by the piezoelectric element in response to the excitation signal.

Inventors:
BOE HAKON (NO)
Application Number:
PCT/EP2019/075202
Publication Date:
March 26, 2020
Filing Date:
September 19, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WEMA SYSTEM AS (NO)
International Classes:
H01L41/04
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014074290A12014-05-15
Foreign References:
US20010039484A12001-11-08
US20110140685A12011-06-16
EP2048343A12009-04-15
DE10325446B32005-03-03
US5376854A1994-12-27
CN105675960A2016-06-15
US6639411B12003-10-28
US6870377B22005-03-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MURGITROYD & COMPANY (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for detecting an open circuit state failure in a piezoelectric element connection, the method comprising: exciting a piezoelectric element (102) with an electrical excitation signal, wherein the excitation signal is a pulse train, wherein a frequency of the pulse train is chosen such that the piezoelectric element (102) acts as a low pass filter; monitoring and evaluating an electrical output signal (100) generated by the piezoelectric ele ment (102) in response to the excitation signal.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the electrical output signal (100) generated by the piezoelectric element (102) is a voltage signal.

3. The method of claim 1 or 2, wherein the electrical output signal (100) produced by the piezoelec tric element is monitored during excitation only.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein a constant e is defined as the smallest number for which the ex citation signal only takes values within the intervals [Vmm, Vmm + e] or [Vmax- e, Vmax], where Vmin and Vmax are the minimum and the maximum value of the excitation signal, respectively.

5. The method of claim 3, wherein a constant e is defined as the smallest number for which an out put signal, which has been recorded in a calibration step with the piezoelectric element removed from the test circuit, only takes values within the intervals [Vmin, Vmm + e] or [Vmax- e, Vmax], where Vmin and Vmax are the minimum and the maximum value of the output signal, respectively.

6. The method according to one of the preceding claims, wherein the frequency of the pulse train and the constants Vmm, Vmax and e are determined empirically in a number of test runs.

7. The method according to claim 6, wherein the test runs are repeated until the probability, that a value for the frequency of the pulse train and the constants Vmm, Vmax and e occurs which is more extreme than the corresponding values from all previous runs, is smaller than a predefined value.

8. The method according to one of the preceding claims, wherein the evaluation of the output sig nal generated by the piezoelectric element includes comparing the monitored electrical output signal with characteristics indicative of an electrical signal generated by a properly functioning piezoelectric element.

9. The method according to claim 4 or 5, wherein a necessary and sufficient condition for classifying a piezoelectric element connection as properly functioning is that the output signal takes a signif icant number of values outside of the vicinity of the minimum and the maximum value of the pulse train ]Vmin + s, Vmax- e[.

10. The method according to claim 4 or 5, wherein a necessary and sufficient condition for classifying a piezoelectric element connection as properly functioning is that the variance of all values of the excitation signal which are higher than Vmm + e and the variance of all values of the output signal which are higher than Vmm + e are significantly different.

11. The method according to claim 8 or 9, wherein the level of significance for classifying a piezoelec tric element connection as properly functioning is determined empirically such that the number of false positives and false negatives matches the desired robustness.

12. A testing apparatus for detecting an open circuit state failure in a piezoelectric element connec tion, the apparatus comprising: an exciting unit which is connectable to a piezoelectric element (102) to be tested and is opera ble to excite the piezoelectric element (102) with an electrical excitation signal, wherein the excitation signal is a pulse train, wherein the frequency of the pulse train is chosen such that the piezoelectric element (102) acts as a low pass filter; a monitoring and evaluating unit which is operable to monitor and evaluate the electrical output signal generated by the piezoelectric element in response to the excitation signal.

13. The testing apparatus according to claim 12, wherein the monitoring unit is active only when the exciting unit is active.

14. The testing apparatus according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the testing apparatus with the piezo electric element is integrated in an electronic device, wherein the electronic device triggers a test run of the testing apparatus.

Description:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DETECTING AN OPEN CIRCUIT STATE IN A PIEZOELECTRIC ELEMENT CONNECTION

The present disclosure relates to a method for failure detection in piezoelectric elements.

In a piezoelectric apparatus, failures such as an open circuit state can occur. To avoid further damage of the apparatus, a malfunction in the piezoelectric element must be detected quickly. To that end, devices for detecting a failure in a piezoelectric apparatus have been suggested (see e.g. US 5376854, CN 105675960 A).

Previous methods include exciting the piezoelectric element at its natural resonant frequency, monitor ing the voltage generated by the piezoelectric element and evaluating the recorded voltage signal, as this is for instance shown in US 6639411 B1 or US 6870377 B2. The recorded signal is then compared to a prototype signal, which has been recorded with a properly functioning piezoelectric element using a sim ilar input. Thereby, the comparison of the two signals relies upon analyzing the ringdown of the excita tion with a frequency at the transducer's resonance frequency.

Fig. 1 shows an example of a voltage signal recorded either with an open circuit (i.e. malfunctioning) pie zoelectric element or with a not open circuit (i.e. functioning) piezoelectric element according to a con ventional testing method.

However, such known methods used for open circuit detection are prone to produce false positives and therefore are not very robust. False detections of open circuits will lead to well-functioning sensors being replaced.

The object of the present invention is to overcome the problems of prior art solutions, in particular the insufficient robustness in detecting open circuits for a piezoelectric element. This object is solved by the subject matter of the independent claim. While previous methods relied upon analyzing the ringdown of an excitation, the present invention is based on looking directly on the excitation itself. This avoids the influence of environmental effects such as the propagation in a medium (e.g. liquid or air) or tempera ture. Moreover, the present invention uses excitation with a high frequency pulse train instead of the resonance frequency of the piezoelectric element used in previous methods. This caused the piezoelec tric transducer to act as a low pass filter. The electrical output signal generated by the piezoelectric ele ment in response to the excitation signal, which is a voltage signal, is monitored during excitation only and is evaluated. To avoid problems due to small measurement errors which occur under realistic conditions, a constant e is defined as the smallest number for which the excitation signal only takes values within the intervals [Vmin, Vmin + e] or [V ma x - e, V ma x], where V m in and Vmax are the minimum and the maximum value of the ex citation signal, respectively. Alternatively, the constant e can also be defined as the smallest number for which an output signal, that has been recorded in a pre-test with the piezoelectric element removed from the test circuit, only takes values within the intervals [Vmin, V m m + e] or [V ma x - e, V ma x], where V m m and V max are the minimum and the maximum value of the output signal, respectively.

Generally, the frequency of the pulse train and the constants V m in, V ma x and e are determined empirically in a number of test runs such that the above requirements are met. Thereby, the test runs are repeated until the probability, that a value for the frequency of the pulse train and the constants V m in, V ma x and e occurs which is more extreme than the corresponding values from all previous runs, is smaller than a predefined value, e.g. p < 0,01.

The evaluation of the output signal generated by the piezoelectric element includes comparing the moni tored electrical output signal with characteristics indicative of an electrical signal generated by a properly functioning piezoelectric element. An example of a necessary and sufficient condition for classifying a piezoelectric element connection as properly functioning is that the output signal takes a significant number of values outside of the vicinity of the minimum and the maximum value of the pulse train ]V m m + e, V max - e[. Alternatively, another example of a necessary and sufficient condition for classifying a pie zoelectric element connection as properly functioning is that the variance of all values of the excitation signal which are higher than V m m + e and the variance of all values of the output signal which are higher than V min + e are significantly different. Thereby, the level of significance for classifying a piezoelectric el ement connection as properly functioning is determined empirically such that the number of false posi tives and false negatives matches the desired robustness.

In order to execute the above method, a testing apparatus for detecting an open circuit state failure in a piezoelectric element connection is used. The apparatus comprises an exciting unit which is operable to excite the piezoelectric element with an electrical excitation signal, wherein the excitation signal is a pulse train, wherein the frequency of the pulse train is chosen such that the piezoelectric element acts as a low pass filter; a monitoring and evaluating unit which is operable to monitor and evaluate the electri cal output signal generated by the piezoelectric element in response to the excitation signal. The moni toring unit is active only when the exciting unit is active. The testing apparatus with the piezoelectric element can be integrated in an electronic device, wherein the electronic device triggers a test run of the testing apparatus, e.g. when the device is booting, to make sure that the piezoelectric element is working properly.

The accompanying drawings are incorporated into and form a part of the specification to illustrate sev eral embodiments of the present invention. These drawings together with the description serve to ex plain the principles of the invention. The drawings are merely for the purpose of illustrating the pre ferred and alternative examples of how the invention can be made and used, and are not to be con strued as limiting the invention to only the illustrated and described embodiments. Furthermore, several aspects of the embodiments may form - individually or in different combinations - solutions according to the present invention. Further features and advantages will become apparent from the following more particular description of the various embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which like references refer to like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows recorded voltage signals according to known methods for detecting whether a circuit in a piezoelectric apparatus is open (Fig. 1 A) or not open (Fig. 1 B);

FIG. 2 shows recorded voltage signals as used for the method according to the present invention for detecting whether a circuit in a piezoelectric apparatus is open (Fig. 2 A) or not open (Fig. 2 B);

FIG. 3 shows a test circuit used for detecting open circuits for a piezoelectric element connection ac cording to the present invention;

FIG. 4 shows a flowchart of a method according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 shows recorded voltage signals as used for the method according to the present invention for detecting whether a circuit in a piezoelectric apparatus is open (Fig. 5 A) or not open (Fig. 5 B).

The following embodiments are intended to illustrate the invention for a better understanding. They do not limit the scope of the claims.

As shown in Fig. 2, the voltage signals in the present invention can be distinguished easily and robustly as compared to previous methods shown in Fig. 1. When there is an open circuit, the piezoelectric element has no influence on the signal recorded during excitation. Therefore, the recorded signal equals the origi nal pulse train used to excite the piezoelectric element. This means that the samples can take two values only, namely either 0 V or the maximal voltage of the pulses. When the circuit is not open, the piezoelec tric element acts as a low pass filter and therefore influences the signal recorded during excitation. This means that the samples take values that are higher than 0 V and lower than the maximal voltage of the pulses. By counting the samples taking values between 0 V and the maximal voltage, the open circuit state can be robustly distinguished from the not open circuit state.

According to an advantageous embodiment of the present invention, a method is provided for detecting an open circuit state failure in a piezoelectric element connectionThe testing set-up comprises a piezoe lectric element 102, a resistor 106, an inductor 108, and a voltage source 104 which are connected in se ries. Using the voltage source 104, the piezoelectric element can be excited with an exciting signal. Moreover, a voltmeter 100 is connected in parallel with the piezoelectric element 102, the resistor 106 and the inductor 108. Using this voltmeter 100, the output signal generated by the piecoelectric element 102 in response to the excitation signal can be measured. Fig. 3 shows the testing set-up in terms of an electrical circuit. The testing method according to the first embodiment is sketched in Fig. 4 in terms of a flow chart.

Specifically, for testing whether or not there is an open circuit state failure, the piezoelectric element 100 is excited with an electrical excitation signal. The excitation signal is a pulse train. By definition the pulse train consists of two values only, namely a minimum value V mi n (usually 0 V) and a maximum value V ma x. This means that the excitation signal only takes values in the vicinity of the minimum value [V m m, V m m + e] and in the vicinity of the maximum value [V ma x- e, V ma x], where e is the smallest nonnegative real number for which the excitation signal only takes values within the intervals [V m m, V m m + e] or [V ma x- e, V ma x]. The constant e is introduced to make sure that the excitation signal does not take any value within the inter val ]V min + e, V max e[, even if a measurement inaccuracy occurs. This is an important characteristic which will help distinguish between an open circuit state and a not open circuit state.

The frequency of the excitation signal is chosen well above the resonance frequency of the piezoelectric element 102. Specifically, the frequency is chosen high enough such that the piezoelectric element 102 cannot follow the excitation signal anymore and therefore acts as a low pass filter. This means that if the piezoelectric element 102 is functional, it modifies the excitation signal such that the output signal signif icantly differs from the excitation signal. In contrast, when there is an open circuit failure, the piezoelec tric element 102 has no influence on the excitation signal and hence the output signal resembles the ex citation signal. This characteristic will help distinguish between an open circuit state and a not open cir cuit state. Previous methods for detecting open circuit states recorded the output signal both during the excitation and during the following ringdown for further analysis. The disadvantage of this method is that environ mental effects such as the propagation in a medium (e.g. liquid or air) or temperature influence the out put signal during the ringdown and therefore distort the comparison of excitation and output signal. To avoid such effects, the present embodiment records the output signal only during the excitation without including the ringdown.

When the recording of the output signal is finished, the recorded output signal must be analyzed in order to tell whether or not there is an open circuit state failure in the piezoelectric element connection. Fig. 2 comprises two diagrams, the upper one showing an example of an output signal as it would occur when there is an open circuit state and the lower one showing an example of an output signal as it would occur when there is a not open circuit state. For a better understanding of how the two output signals can be distinguished from each other, we look at Fig. 5 where the connection lines between adjacent samples are omitted in Fig. 5 A. In this figure, the difference between the two signals is obvious.

In case of an open circuit state, the excitation signal is not modified by the piezoelectric element and therefore the output signal resembles the excitation signal. By definition of V mi n, V ma x and e, the excita tion signal only takes values in the intervals [V mi n, V mi n + e] or [V ma x- e, V ma x]. Since the output signal re sembles the excitation signal, this holds true for the output signal as well. In case of a not open circuit state, the excitation signal is modified by the piezoelectric element, the resistor and the inductor which are connected in series. The signal is dampened by the resistor and the inductor, and it is low pass fil tered by the piezoelectric element. Therefore, the output signal has a lower amplitude and a different shape compared to the excitation signal. This characteristic can be used for differentiating between the open circuit and the not open circuit state. When the output signal contains a significant number of sam ples with values in the interval ]V m m + e, V ma x- e[, then the piezoelectric element connection is consid ered to be in a not open circuit state in.

The second embodiment equals the first embodiment with one exception: In the first embodiment, the criterion for the circuit state being not open is that the output signal contains a significant number of samples with values in the interval ] V mi n + e, V ma x - e[. In contrast, in the second embodiment the crite rion for the circuit state being not open is that the samples of the output signal with values bigger than V min + e have a variance that significantly exceeds the variance of the samples of the excitation signal with values bigger than V m m + e. The third embodiment equals the first embodiment with one exception: In the first embodiment,

V mm . V max and £ are chosen such that V min, and V maX are the minimum and the maximum of the excitation signal, respectively, and e is the smallest number for which the excitation signal only takes values within the intervals [V m m, V m m + e] or [V ma x - e, V m ax] .

In contrast, in the third embodiment the constant e is defined as the smallest number for which an out put signal, that has been recorded in a pre-test with the piezoelectric element removed from the test cir cuit, only takes values within the intervals [V m in, V m m + e] or [V ma x - e, V ma x], where V m m and V ma x are the minimum and the maximum value of the output signal, respectively.

The advantage of using the output signal of the test circuit with an open circuit state to define V m in, V ma x and e is that the pathway of the output signal is similar to the pathway of the output signal of the not open circuit state, whereas the excitation signal is directly available without passing through a pathway.

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