Hall effect sensor

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A wheel containing two magnets passing by a Hall effect sensor Hall sensor tach.gif
A wheel containing two magnets passing by a Hall effect sensor
The magnetic piston (1) in this pneumatic cylinder will cause the Hall effect sensors (2 and 3) mounted on its outer wall to activate when it is fully retracted or extended. Cylinders with Hall sensors.png
The magnetic piston (1) in this pneumatic cylinder will cause the Hall effect sensors (2 and 3) mounted on its outer wall to activate when it is fully retracted or extended.
Engine fan with Hall effect sensor Clutch with Hall Effect sensor.jpg
Engine fan with Hall effect sensor
Commonly used circuit symbol Common Hall Sensor Symbol.png
Commonly used circuit symbol

A Hall effect sensor is a device that is used to measure the magnitude of a magnetic field. Its output voltage is directly proportional to the magnetic field strength through it.

Voltage voltage is what makes electric charges move.

Voltage, electric potential difference, electric pressure or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points. The difference in electric potential between two points in a static electric field is defined as the work needed per unit of charge to move a test charge between the two points. In the International System of Units, the derived unit for voltage is named volt. In SI units, work per unit charge is expressed as joules per coulomb, where 1 volt = 1 joule per 1 coulomb. The official SI definition for volt uses power and current, where 1 volt = 1 watt per 1 ampere. This definition is equivalent to the more commonly used 'joules per coulomb'. Voltage or electric potential difference is denoted symbolically by V, but more often simply as V, for instance in the context of Ohm's or Kirchhoff's circuit laws.

Magnetic field Spatial distribution of vectors allowing the calculation of the magnetic force on a test particle

A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence of electric charges in relative motion and magnetized materials. The effects of magnetic fields are commonly seen in permanent magnets, which pull on magnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. Magnetic fields surround and are created by magnetized material and by moving electric charges such as those used in electromagnets. They exert forces on nearby moving electrical charges and torques on nearby magnets. In addition, a magnetic field that varies with location exerts a force on magnetic materials. Both the strength and direction of a magnetic field vary with location. As such, it is described mathematically as a vector field.


Hall effect sensors are used for proximity sensing, positioning, speed detection, and current sensing applications. [1]

Hall effect effect of production of a voltage difference across an electrical conductor

The Hall effect is the production of a voltage difference across an electrical conductor, transverse to an electric current in the conductor and to an applied magnetic field perpendicular to the current. It was discovered by Edwin Hall in 1879. For clarity, the original effect is sometimes called the ordinary Hall effect to distinguish it from other "Hall effects" which have different physical mechanisms.

Speed limit enforcement The action taken by appropriately empowered authorities to check that road vehicles are complying with the speed limit in force on roads and highways.

Speed limit enforcement is the effort made by appropriately empowered authorities to improve driver compliance with speed limits. Methods used include roadside speed traps set up and operated by the police and automated roadside 'speed camera' systems, which may incorporate the use of an automatic number plate recognition system. Traditionally, police officers used stopwatches to measure the time taken for a vehicle to cover a known distance. More recently, radar guns and automated in-vehicle systems have come into use.

Current sensing

In electrical engineering, current sensing is any one of several techniques used to measure electric current. The measurement of current ranges from picoamps to tens of thousands of amperes. The selection of a current sensing method depends on requirements such as magnitude, accuracy, bandwidth, robustness, cost, isolation or size. The current value may be directly displayed by an instrument, or converted to digital form for use by a monitoring or control system.

Frequently, a Hall sensor is combined with threshold detection so that it acts as and is called a switch. Commonly seen in industrial applications such as the pictured pneumatic cylinder, they are also used in consumer equipment; for example some computer printers use them to detect missing paper and open covers. They can also be used in computer keyboards, an application that requires ultra-high reliability.

In electrical engineering, a switch is an electrical component that can "make" or "break" an electrical circuit, interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another. The mechanism of a switch removes or restores the conducting path in a circuit when it is operated. It may be operated manually, for example, a light switch or a keyboard button, may be operated by a moving object such as a door, or may be operated by some sensing element for pressure, temperature or flow. A switch will have one or more sets of contacts, which may operate simultaneously, sequentially, or alternately. Switches in high-powered circuits must operate rapidly to prevent destructive arcing, and may include special features to assist in rapidly interrupting a heavy current. Multiple forms of actuators are used for operation by hand or to sense position, level, temperature or flow. Special types are used, for example, for control of machinery, to reverse electric motors, or to sense liquid level. Many specialized forms exist. A common use is control of lighting, where multiple switches may be wired into one circuit to allow convenient control of light fixtures.

Pneumatic cylinder

Pneumatic cylinder(s) are mechanical devices which use the power of compressed gas to produce a force in a reciprocating linear motion.

Hall sensors are commonly used to time the speed of wheels and shafts, such as for internal combustion engine ignition timing, tachometers and anti-lock braking systems. They are used in brushless DC electric motors to detect the position of the permanent magnet. In the pictured wheel with two equally spaced magnets, the voltage from the sensor will peak twice for each revolution. This arrangement is commonly used to regulate the speed of disk drives.

Internal combustion engine Engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber

An internal combustion engine (ICE) is a heat engine where the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber that is an integral part of the working fluid flow circuit. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high-pressure gases produced by combustion applies direct force to some component of the engine. The force is applied typically to pistons, turbine blades, rotor or a nozzle. This force moves the component over a distance, transforming chemical energy into useful mechanical energy.

An ignition system generates a spark or heats an electrode to a high temperature to ignite a fuel-air mixture in spark ignition internal combustion engines, oil-fired and gas-fired boilers, rocket engines, etc. The widest application for spark ignition internal combustion engines is in petrol (gasoline) road vehicles such as cars and motorcycles.

Ignition timing

In a spark ignition internal combustion engine, Ignition timing refers to the timing, relative to the current piston position and crankshaft angle, of the release of a spark in the combustion chamber near the end of the compression stroke.

Hall probe

A Hall probe contains an indium compound semiconductor crystal such as indium antimonide, mounted on an aluminum backing plate, and encapsulated in the probe head. The plane of the crystal is perpendicular to the probe handle. Connecting leads from the crystal are brought down through the handle to the circuit box.

Indium Chemical element with atomic number 49

Indium is a chemical element with the symbol In and atomic number 49. Indium is the softest metal that is not an alkali metal. It is a silvery-white metal that resembles tin in appearance. It is a post-transition metal that makes up 0.21 parts per million of the Earth's crust. Indium has a melting point higher than sodium and gallium, but lower than lithium and tin. Chemically, indium is similar to gallium and thallium, and it is largely intermediate between the two in terms of its properties. Indium was discovered in 1863 by Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymous Theodor Richter by spectroscopic methods. They named it for the indigo blue line in its spectrum. Indium was isolated the next year.

A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as metallic copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistance falls as its temperature rises; metals are the opposite. Its conducting properties may be altered in useful ways by introducing impurities ("doping") into the crystal structure. Where two differently-doped regions exist in the same crystal, a semiconductor junction is created. The behavior of charge carriers which include electrons, ions and electron holes at these junctions is the basis of diodes, transistors and all modern electronics. Some examples of semiconductors are silicon, germanium, gallium arsenide, and elements near the so-called "metalloid staircase" on the periodic table. After silicon, gallium arsenide is the second most common semiconductor and is used in laser diodes, solar cells, microwave-frequency integrated circuits and others. Silicon is a critical element for fabricating most electronic circuits.

When the Hall probe is held so that the magnetic field lines are passing at right angles through the sensor of the probe, the meter gives a reading of the value of magnetic flux density (B). A current is passed through the crystal which, when placed in a magnetic field has a "Hall effect" voltage developed across it. The Hall effect is seen when a conductor is passed through a uniform magnetic field. The natural electron drift of the charge carriers causes the magnetic field to apply a Lorentz force (the force exerted on a charged particle in an electromagnetic field) to these charge carriers. The result is what is seen as charge separation, with a buildup of either positive or negative charges on the bottom or on the top of the plate. The crystal measures 5  mm square. The probe handle, being made of a non-ferrous material, has no disturbing effect on the field.

Lorentz force mutual force exerted by two punctual charges in relative motion

In physics the Lorentz force is the combination of electric and magnetic force on a point charge due to electromagnetic fields. A particle of charge q moving with a velocity v in an electric field E and a magnetic field B experiences a force of


In chemistry, the adjective ferrous indicates a compound that contains iron in the +2 oxidation state, possibly as the divalent cation Fe2+. It is opposed to "ferric", which indicates presence of iron in a +3 oxidation state, such as the trivalent cation Fe3+. This usage has been largely replaced by the IUPAC nomenclature, which calls for the oxidation state being indicated by Roman numerals in parentheses, such as iron(II) oxide for ferrous oxide (FeO), iron(III) oxide for ferric oxide (Fe2O3), and iron(II,III) oxide for the oxide Fe
that contains both forms of iron.

A Hall probe should be calibrated against a known value of magnetic field strength. For a solenoid the Hall probe is placed in the centre.

Working principle

In a Hall effect sensor, a thin strip of metal has a current applied along it. In the presence of a magnetic field, the electrons in the metal strip are deflected toward one edge, producing a voltage gradient across the short side of the strip (perpendicular to the feed current). Hall effect sensors have an advantage over inductive sensors in that, while inductive sensors respond to a changing magnetic field which induces current in a coil of wire and produces voltage at its output, Hall effect sensors can detect static (non-changing) magnetic fields.

In its simplest form, the sensor operates as an analog transducer, directly returning a voltage. With a known magnetic field, its distance from the Hall plate can be determined. Using groups of sensors, the relative position of the magnet can be deduced.

When a beam of charged particles passes through a magnetic field, forces act on the particles and the beam is deflected from a straight path. The flow of electrons through a conductor form a beam of charged carriers. When an conductor is placed in a magnetic field perpendicular to the direction of the electrons, they will be deflected from a straight path. As a consequence, one plane of the conductor will become negatively charged and the opposite side will become positively charged. The voltage between these planes is called the Hall voltage. [2]

When the force on the charged particles from the electric field balances the force produced by the magnetic field, the separation of them will stop. If the current is not changing, then the Hall voltage is a measure of the magnetic flux density. Basically, there are two kinds of Hall effect sensors: linear, which means the output of voltage linearly depends on magnetic flux density; and threshold, which means there will be a sharp decrease of output voltage at each magnetic flux density. This experiment was the one to demonstrate that there are only negative charges free to move in a conductor. Before this, it was believed that positive charges move in a current carrying conductor. This experiment is known as the Hall Experiment.


The key factor determining sensitivity of Hall effect sensors is high electron mobility. As a result, the following materials are especially suitable for Hall effect sensors:

Signal processing and interface

Hall effect sensors are linear transducers. As a result, such sensors require a linear circuit for processing of the sensor's output signal. Such a linear circuit:

In some cases, the linear circuit may cancel the offset voltage of Hall effect sensors. Moreover, AC modulation of the driving current may also reduce the influence of this offset voltage.

Hall effect sensors with linear transducers are commonly integrated with digital electronics. [4] This enables advanced corrections to the sensor's characteristics (e.g. temperature coefficient corrections) and digital interfacing to microprocessor systems. In some solutions of IC Hall effect sensors a DSP is used, which provides for more choices among processing techniques. [1] :167

The Hall effect sensor interfaces may include input diagnostics, fault protection for transient conditions, and short/open circuit detection. It may also provide and monitor the current to the Hall effect sensor itself. There are precision IC products available to handle these features.


A Hall effect sensor may operate as an electronic switch.

In the case of linear sensor (for the magnetic field strength measurements), a Hall effect sensor:


Hall effect sensors provide much lower measuring accuracy than fluxgate magnetometers or magnetoresistance-based sensors. Moreover, Hall effect sensors drift significantly, requiring compensation.


Position sensing

Sensing the presence of magnetic objects (connected with the position sensing) is the most common industrial application of Hall effect sensors, especially those operating in the switch mode (on/off mode). The Hall effect sensors are also used in the brushless DC motor to sense the position of the rotor and to switch the transistors in the right sequence.

Smartphones use hall sensors to determine if the Flip Cover accessory is closed. [5] See Galaxy S4 Accessories.

Direct current (DC) transformers

Hall effect sensors may be utilized for contactless measurements of DC current in current transformers. In such a case the Hall effect sensor is mounted in the gap in magnetic core around the current conductor. [6] As a result, the DC magnetic flux can be measured, and the DC current in the conductor can be calculated.

Automotive fuel level indicator

The Hall sensor is used in some automotive fuel level indicators. The main principle of operation of such indicator is position sensing of a floating element. [7] This can either be done by using a vertical float magnet or a rotating lever sensor.

Keyboard switch

Hall Effect switches for computer keyboards were developed in the late 1960s by Everett A. Vorthmann and Joseph T. Maupin at Honeywell. [8] Due to high manufacturing costs these keyboards were often reserved for high-reliability applications such as aerospace and military. As mass-production costs have reduced increasing number of consumer models have become available. [9] Various mechnical keyboards are noted to use Hall Effect switches.

Related Research Articles

Ammeter electric measuring instrument

An ammeter is a measuring instrument used to measure the current in a circuit. Electric currents are measured in amperes (A), hence the name. Instruments used to measure smaller currents, in the milliampere or microampere range, are designated as milliammeters or microammeters. Early ammeters were laboratory instruments which relied on the Earth's magnetic field for operation. By the late 19th century, improved instruments were designed which could be mounted in any position and allowed accurate measurements in electric power systems. It is generally represented by letter 'A' in a circuit.

Galvanometer instrument to measure electric current

A galvanometer is an electromechanical instrument used for detecting and indicating an electric current. A galvanometer works as an actuator, by producing a rotary deflection, in response to electric current flowing through a coil in a constant magnetic field. Early galvanometers were not calibrated, but their later developments were used as measuring instruments, called ammeters, to measure the current flowing through an electric circuit.

Electric generator device that converts other energy to electrical energy

In electricity generation, a generator is a device that converts motive power into electrical power for use in an external circuit. Sources of mechanical energy include steam turbines, gas turbines, water turbines, internal combustion engines, wind turbines and even hand cranks. The first electromagnetic generator, the Faraday disk, was invented in 1831 by British scientist Michael Faraday. Generators provide nearly all of the power for electric power grids.

Rogowski coil

A Rogowski coil, named after Walter Rogowski, is an electrical device for measuring alternating current (AC) or high-speed current pulses. It consists of a helical coil of wire with the lead from one end returning through the centre of the coil to the other end, so that both terminals are at the same end of the coil. The whole assembly is then wrapped around the straight conductor whose current is to be measured. There is no metal (iron) core. The winding density, the diameter of the coil and the rigidity of the winding are critical for preserving immunity to external fields and low sensitivity to the positioning of the measured conductor.

A transducer is a device that converts energy from one form to another. Usually a transducer converts a signal in one form of energy to a signal in another.

Reed switch

The reed switch is an electrical switch operated by an applied magnetic field. It was invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1936 by Walter B. Ellwood. In its simplest and most common form, it consists of a pair of ferromagnetic flexible metal reeds contacts in a hermetically sealed glass envelope. The contacts are usually normally open, closing when a magnetic field is present, or they may be normally closed and open when a magnetic field is applied. The switch may be actuated by an electromagnetic coil, making a reed relay, or by bringing a permanent magnet near the switch. When the magnetic field is removed, the reeds in the reed switch return to their original position.

Eddy currents are loops of electrical current induced within conductors by a changing magnetic field in the conductor according to Faraday's law of induction. Eddy currents flow in closed loops within conductors, in planes perpendicular to the magnetic field. They can be induced within nearby stationary conductors by a time-varying magnetic field created by an AC electromagnet or transformer, for example, or by relative motion between a magnet and a nearby conductor. The magnitude of the current in a given loop is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field, the area of the loop, and the rate of change of flux, and inversely proportional to the resistivity of the material. When graphed, these circular currents within a piece of metal look vaguely like eddies or whirlpools in a liquid.

Brushless DC electric motor Synchronous electric motor powered by an inverter

A brushless DC electric motor, also known as electronically commutated motor and synchronous DC motors, are synchronous motors powered by direct current (DC) electricity via an inverter or switching power supply which produces an alternating current (AC) electric current to drive each phase of the motor via a closed loop controller. The controller provides pulses of current to the motor windings that control the speed and torque of the motor.

Electronic component basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields

An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system used to affect electrons or their associated fields. Electronic components are mostly industrial products, available in a singular form and are not to be confused with electrical elements, which are conceptual abstractions representing idealized electronic components.

Flemings left-hand rule for motors Used to determine direction of the coil

Fleming's left-hand rule for electric motors is one of a pair of visual mnemonics, the other being Fleming's right-hand rule. They were originated by John Ambrose Fleming, in the late 19th century, as a simple way of working out the direction of motion in an electric motor, or the direction of electric current in an electric generator.

In electrical and electronic engineering, a current clamp or current probe is an electrical device with jaws which open to allow clamping around an electrical conductor. This allows measurement of the current in a conductor without the need to make physical contact with it, or to disconnect it for insertion through the probe. Current clamps are typically used to read the magnitude of alternating current (AC) and, with additional instrumentation, the phase and waveform can also be measured. Some clamp meters can measure currents of 1000 A and more. Hall effect and vane type clamps can also measure direct current (DC).

An inductive sensor is a device that uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to detect or measure objects. An inductor develops a magnetic field when a current flows through it; alternatively, a current will flow through a circuit containing an inductor when the magnetic field through it changes. This effect can be used to detect metallic objects that interact with a magnetic field. Non-metallic substances such as liquids or some kinds of dirt do not interact with the magnetic field, so an inductive sensor can operate in wet or dirty conditions.

The planar Hall sensor is based on the planar Hall effect of ferromagnetic materials.

A variable reluctance sensor is a transducer that measures changes in magnetic reluctance. When combined with basic electronic circuitry, the sensor detects the change in presence or proximity of ferrous objects.

A current sensor is a device that detects electric current in a wire, and generates a signal proportional to that current. The generated signal could be analog voltage or current or even a digital output. The generated signal can be then used to display the measured current in an ammeter, or can be stored for further analysis in a data acquisition system, or can be used for the purpose of control.

Flux pumping is a method for magnetising superconductors to fields in excess of 15 teslas. The method can be applied to any type II superconductor and exploits a fundamental property of superconductors. That is their ability to support and maintain currents on the length scale of the superconductor. Conventional magnetic materials are magnetised on a molecular scale which means that superconductors can maintain a flux density orders of magnitude bigger than conventional materials. Flux pumping is especially significant when one bears in mind that all other methods of magnetising superconductors require application of a magnetic flux density at least as high as the final required field. This is not true of flux pumping.

MEMS magnetic field sensor

A MEMSmagnetic field sensor is a small-scale microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) device for detecting and measuring magnetic fields (Magnetometer). Many of these operate by detecting effects of the Lorentz force: a change in voltage or resonant frequency may be measured electronically, or a mechanical displacement may be measured optically. Compensation for temperature effects is necessary. Its use as a miniaturized compass may be one such simple example application.

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  1. 1 2 Ramsden, Edward (2006). Hall-effect sensors: theory and applications (2, illustrated ed.). Elsevier. ISBN   978-0-7506-7934-3.
  2. Popović, R. S. (2004). Hall effect devices (2, illustrated ed.). CRC Press. ISBN   978-0-7503-0855-7.
  3. Petruk, Oleg; Szewczyk, Roman; Ciuk, Tymoteusz; et al. (2014). Sensitivity and Offset Voltage Testing in the Hall-Effect Sensors Made of Graphene. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. 267. Springer. p. 631. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05353-0_60. ISBN   978-3-319-05352-3.
  4. "Hall Effect Sensor Voltage Regulation and Power Management". phareselectronics.com. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  5. "ZenFone 5 (A500CG)". asus.com. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  6. Petruk, O.; Szewczyk, R.; Salach, J.; Nowicki, M. (2014). Digitally Controlled Current Transformer with Hall Sensor. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing. 267. Springer. p. 641. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05353-0_61. ISBN   978-3-319-05352-3.
  7. "Liquid Level Sensing: Measuring Liquid Levels Using Hall Effect Sensors" (PDF). infineon.com. 12 February 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2017.
  8. Vorthmann, Everett A.; Maupin, Joseph T. (May 1969). "Solid state keyboard". AFIPS Spring Joint Computing Conference 1969: 149–159. doi:10.1145/1476793.1476823.
  9. Limmen, Calder (May 10, 2019). "What are Hall Effect keyboard Switches". Wooting Developer Blog. Retrieved July 11, 2019.

Further reading