The AMA Association for Sensor Technology (AMA) presented the AMA Innovation Award 2013 to the winning contenders on the 14th of May at the SENSOR+TEST trade fair in Nuremberg. The 10,000 Euro award was equally divided between the two winning projects, a membrane-free optical microphone from Xarion GmbH and a 3D scanning laser vibrometer microscope with a measuring beam from Polytec GmbH. These two innovations persuaded the jury both in regard to their development depth as well as to their market relevance. The 3D scanning laser vibrometer microscope with a measuring beam allows the measurement of three-dimensional vibration parameters of microscopic objects in real time.
The first microphone without any moving parts allows a completely linear frequency response, a true impulse response, a very low susceptibility to interference from wind, pop noise, and structure-borne sound, as well as a marked ability to locate sound emanation. The optical microphone does not use a membrane, nor any other mechanical component. The acoustic pressure is measured optically and contact-free via changes in the refraction index in the air caused by the sound waves. The transducer is based on a laser diode (VCSEL) and a tiny Fabry-Pérot interferometer, i.e. two parallel, partially reflecting mirrors.