What is a pyroelectric sensor

Pyroelectric sensor

A pyroelectric sensor consists of a dielectric or pyroelectric material. When exposed to heat, a temperature difference arises in the polarized crystal, which changes the polarization of the material and thus triggers a charge separation. One speaks of the pyroelectric effect. This expresses itself as voltage and current. The signal can be amplified and evaluated.
Since the pyroelectric material only responds to temperature changes, it is ideally suited as a sensor to measure temperatures without contact (pyrometry).
The pyroelectric sensor is mainly used as a detector in motion detectors to record thermal images of objects and to determine the presence of people (motion or presence detectors). Another field of application is gas analysis, in which the absorption or transmission behavior of gases is determined.

Pyroelectric material

  • Lithium tantalate
  • Lead zirconate / titanate (PZT) layers


The pyrometer is a radiation thermometer that is used for non-contact temperature measurement. Temperatures between -50 ° C and + 3500 ° C can be measured with a pyrometer.
The property that every object emits infrared radiation depending on its temperature is used in non-contact temperature measurement. The infrared radiation is recorded and evaluated by the pyormeter.
Thermal (pyroelectric sensors, thermocouples) or photoelectric (photodiodes) sensors are used as detectors.

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