Arrangement, Method and Sensor for Measuring an Absolute Angular Position Using a MultiPole Magnet

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Abstract
An arrangement for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator, comprises a multipole magnet mounted on the rotor, and a sensor mounted on the stator and a plurality of sensor elements organized in two groups or four groups for measuring a magnetic field component. A method for calculating the angular position comprises making a sum of signals of the elements of each group, a ratio of the two sums, and an arctan function. Alternatively the method may comprise making a sum of signals, the difference of sums, a ratio of the differences, and an arctan function. An integrated sensor, and the use of such arrangement or sensor in an automotive environment.
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49 Claims
 1. 31. (canceled)
 32. An arrangement for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator, the arrangement comprising:
the rotor rotatable around a rotation axis; the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis; a magnetic source mounted on the rotor for creating a magnetic field, the magnetic source being a multipole magnet having a number of magnetic poles for generating a periodically repetitive magnetic field pattern with respect to the rotation axis, the number of magnetic poles being at least four; a sensor mounted on the stator and comprising a plurality of sensor elements for measuring at least one magnetic field component of the magnetic field and for providing a measurement signal indicative of the at least one magnetic field component, the number of sensor elements being twice the number of magnetic poles of the multipole magnet, the sensor being located centered around the rotation axis and being located in a plane perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source; the sensor elements being located on a circle at a second distance from the rotation axis, and being oriented for detecting the at least one magnetic field component; the plurality of sensor elements being partitioned in at least a first group and a second group and a third group and a fourth group, the elements within each group being located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the first group and an element of the second group being equal to 180°
divided by the number of magnetic poles of the magnetic source, the angular distance between an element of the third group and an element of the first group being equal to 360°
divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source, and the angular distance between an element of the fourth group and an element of the first group being equal to 540°
divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source;means for calculating the angular position of the rotor from the provided signals, the means for calculating being adapted for calculating a first sum or first average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the first group, and for calculating a second sum or second average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the second group, and for calculating a third sum or third average of the signals provided by the elements of the third group, and for calculating a fourth sum or fourth average of the signals provided by the elements of the fourth group, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more values selected from the group consisting of the first sum, first average, the second sum and the second average, the third sum, the third average, the fourth sum and the fourth average.  View Dependent Claims (33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44)
 45. An integrated sensor circuit for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator, the rotor being rotatable around a rotation axis and comprising a magnetic source mounted on the rotor for creating a magnetic field, the magnetic source being a multipole magnet having a number of magnetic poles for generating a periodically repetitive magnetic field pattern with respect to the rotation axis, the number of magnetic poles being at least four;
 the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis, the integrated sensor circuit being mountable to the stator in the vicinity of the multipole magnet and in line with the rotation axis in a plane perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source, the integrated sensor circuit comprising;
a plurality of sensor elements, the number of sensor elements being twice the number of magnetic poles of the multipole magnet, each sensor element being adapted for measuring at least one magnetic field component of the magnetic field and for providing a measurement signal indicative of the strength of the at least one magnetic field component at the location of the sensor element, the sensor elements being located on a circle at a distance from the rotation axis, and being oriented for detecting the at least one magnetic field component; the plurality of sensor elements being partitioned in a first group and a second group and a third group and a fourth group, the elements within each group being located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the first group and an element of the second group being equal to 180°
divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source, the angular distance between an element of the third group and an element of the first group being equal to 360°
divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source, and the angular distance between an element of the fourth group and an element of the first group being equal to 540°
divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source;means for calculating the angular position of the rotor from the provided signals; wherein; the means for calculating being adapted for calculating a first sum or first average of the signals provided by the elements of the first group, and for calculating a second sum or second average of the signals provided by the elements of the second group, and for calculating a third sum or third average of the signals provided by the elements of the third group, and for calculating a fourth sum or fourth average of the signals provided by the elements of the fourth group, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more number selected from the group consisting of the first sum, first average, the second sum and the second average, the third sum, the third average, the fourth sum and the fourth average.  View Dependent Claims (46, 47, 48, 49)
 the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis, the integrated sensor circuit being mountable to the stator in the vicinity of the multipole magnet and in line with the rotation axis in a plane perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source, the integrated sensor circuit comprising;
1 Specification
The present invention relates to the field of position sensors using a magnetic field. More in particular, the present invention relates to a contactless arrangement and a method for precise determination of an angular position less than 360°, using a magnetic field.
The measurement of rotation angle is required in various applications, such as manual electrical switches or position detection of a motor or a valve or the like. Depending on cost and accuracy constraints, this task can be accomplished by various methods, such as mechanical contacts, potentiometers, optical encoders, or magnetic encoders.
Modern integrated circuit technology offers the possibility to integrate magnetic sensors and their readout and angle calculation electronics on a single die. This allows providing detectors of mechanical rotation which consist of a permanent magnet attached to a rotor and a monolithically integrated sensor attached to a stator, at competitive cost and good performance. The absence of mechanical contact between the rotor with the magnet and the stator with the sensor allows for hermetic encapsulation of the sensor. This permits wearfree angle measurements under harsh environmental conditions.
With the increase of compactness of electrical systems, particularly in automobiles with the arrival of hybrid engine systems, such position sensors are additionally exposed to external magnetic fields from nearby current conductors carrying strong current (e.g. more than 100 A). To maintain high sensing accuracy under such conditions, the sensor can be shielded by a ferromagnetic shield, or it must be made intrinsically robust towards such fields. This can be achieved by measuring a field gradient rather than an absolute field, since any external field is assumed constant in first approximation over the sensor as long as the sensor dimensions are small.
A sensor corresponding to this requirement is known from EP0916074B1. It describes a method and arrangement for contactless angle measurement using a magnetic field originating from a non rotationsymmetric magnet (in particular a twopole magnet), whereby an axial field component (Bz) in parallel with the rotation axis is measured by sensor elements (so called “Horizontal Hall elements”) at several separate spots inside a plane perpendicular to the rotation axis. Then the difference between diametrically opposed sensor element values is taken, such that any signal from a constant external (disturbance) field is subtracted and it is not appearing anymore in the angle signal.
A disadvantage of the described method and arrangement is its application for small angle measurement.
US20020021124 describes a position sensor using one or more so called magnetic field concentrators (abbreviated “IMC”) to bend magnetic field lines, in combination with either horizontal Hall elements located under the IMC, or vertical Hall elements located tangentially to the edge of the IMC.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a sensor, and an arrangement and a method for measuring an absolute angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator, that is substantially insensitive to an external magnetic field.
It is in particular an object of embodiments of the present invention to provide such a sensor and arrangement and method for measuring an angular position smaller than 360° with an increased sensitivity.
This objective is accomplished by an arrangement, and method and sensor according to embodiments of the present invention.
In a first aspect, the present invention provides an arrangement for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator. The arrangement comprises:
the rotor rotatable around a rotation axis;
the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis;
a magnetic source mounted on the rotor for creating a magnetic field, the magnetic source being a multipole magnet having at least four magnet poles and providing a periodically repetitive magnetic field pattern with respect to the rotation axis;
a sensor mounted on the stator and comprising a plurality of sensor elements for measuring at least one magnetic field component of the magnetic field and for providing a measurement signal indicative of the at least one magnetic field component, the sensor being located substantially centered around the rotation axis and being located in a plane substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source; the sensor elements being located substantially on a circle at a second distance from the rotation axis, and oriented for detecting the at least one magnetic field component; and
means for calculating the angular position of the rotor from the provided sensor signals.
In a second aspect, the invention provides an arrangement for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator. The arrangement comprises the rotor rotatable around a rotation axis; the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis; a magnetic source mounted on the rotor for creating a magnetic field, the magnetic source being a multipole magnet having a number of magnetic poles for generating a periodically repetitive magnetic field pattern with respect to the rotation axis, the number of magnetic poles being at least four; a sensor mounted on the stator and comprising a plurality of sensor elements for measuring at least one magnetic field component of the magnetic field and for providing a measurement signal indicative of the at least one magnetic field component, the sensor being located substantially centered around the rotation axis and being located in a plane substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source; the sensor elements being located substantially on a circle at a second distance from the rotation axis, and being oriented for detecting the at least one magnetic field component; the plurality of sensor elements being partitioned in at least a first group and a second group, the elements within each group being located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the first group and an element of the second group being equal to 180° divided by the number of magnetic poles of the magnetic source; means for calculating the angular position of the rotor from the provided signals, the means for calculating being adapted for calculating a first sum or first average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the first group, and for calculating a second sum or second average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the second group, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more values selected from the group consisting of the first sum, the first average, the second sum and the second average.
It is an advantage of using a magnetic field for determining an angular position that the sensor is contactless, thus there is no mechanical contact between a fixed and a movable part, thus no wear. Such sensors can advantageously be used in harsh environments.
It is an advantage of using a single integrated sensor comprising multiple sensor elements, in that the risk of misalignment of individual sensor elements or several sensors is eliminated, and interconnections of those sensors can be omitted.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that the first group of elements is arranged for measuring a so called sine signal, while the second group of elements are arranged for measuring a cosine signal, together forming quadrature signals, from which the angular position can be accurately determined.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that it allows any of the tangential, radial or axial field components of the magnetic source to be measured, instead of (only) axial field components.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that it does not require the addition of a ferromagnetic yoke to the stator, for shaping the magnetic field of the rotor, which would add component cost and labor.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that the magnetic source creates a magnetic field in close vicinity to the magnet and to the rotation axis, where the magnetic field components at locations lying on a circle concentric with the rotation axis, and at a short distance from the magnet, has tangential and/or radial and/or axial field components which vary in a substantially periodic, e.g. sine or cosine, manner with the rotation angle, and in a substantially linear manner with distance from the rotation axis. Examples of such magnets are magnets having a cylindrical shape with a square, circular or polygonal crosssection.
It is an advantage that the angular position provided by such an arrangement is or can be robust for (e.g. is substantially insensitive to) positionoffset errors. This offers the further advantage of not having to calibrate to compensate for position errors.
It is an advantage that the angular position provided by such an arrangement is or can be robust for (e.g. is substantially insensitive to) a uniform external magnetic field.
The magnetic source may be a multipole disc with circular shape, square shape or polygonal shape, e.g. hexagon. The multipole magnet may be, but does not need to be, provided with a central opening, for example a central cylindrical opening (thus basically forming an annulus).
The number of sensor elements is at least equal to the number of poles of the magnetic source, but may also be twice that number, for improved functionality.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the multipole magnet is a permanent magnet. The use of a permanent magnet for generating a magnetic field has the advantage that no power needs to be applied for generating the magnetic field.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the multipole magnet has a central cylindrical opening.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the multipole magnet has at least six magnetic poles.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that it offers a higher sensitivity.
It is an advantage of an arrangement with a sixpole magnet, over magnets with more poles, that the angular range is 0 to 120°. The more magnet poles are available, the smaller the angular sensitivity range becomes.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the multipole magnet has a ring shape having an outer diameter and an inner diameter, and the circle in the sensor has a diameter of 1 to 30% of the outer diameter of the magnet.
It is an advantage of such arrangement that the diameter of the circle where the sensor elements are located, is substantially independent of the dimensions of the ring magnet. This allows the sensor and the magnet dimensions to be chosen substantially independent from each other. This also allows further technology scaling of the sensor independent of the magnet.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the measured at least one magnetic field component comprises a tangential field component of the magnetic field, oriented substantially tangential to the circle.
It is an advantage that such a tangential field originating from a multipole ring magnet or disk shape magnet provides a substantially sinusoidal signal in function of the angular distance between the stator and the rotor, and that the magnitude of the tangential field component varies in a substantially linear manner with distance from the rotation axis, offering excellent positionoffset correction, and allowing scaling of the technology.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the sensor elements comprise vertical Hall effect elements having a plate with a normal that is tangential to the circle.
It is an advantage that such Hall elements are ideally suited for measuring (only) the tangential field component, while being insensitive to the axial or radial field components.
It is an advantage of using vertical Hall effect elements, because they are built in the depth direction of the semiconductor, e.g. silicon, substrate, and thus occupy less semiconductor area.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, each sensing element comprises a pair of horizontal Hall effect elements located on the circle adjacent to each other, and having plates oriented substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis, and IMC segments for bending the local tangential magnetic field into a direction substantially perpendicular to the plates.
It is an advantage of such an arrangement that horizontal Hall elements can be used, which provide higher sensitivity and feature a smaller offset.
It is an advantage of using a horizontal Hall element in combination with IMC, in that the IMC provides for a signal amplification in a passive way.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the measured at least one magnetic field component comprises a radial field component of the magnetic field, oriented substantially radially to the circle.
It is an advantage that such a radial field originating from a multipole ring magnet or disk shape magnet provides a substantially sinusoidal signal in function of the angular distance between the stator and the rotor, and that the magnitude of the radial field component varies in a substantially linear manner with distance from the rotation axis, offering excellent positionoffset correction, and allowing scaling of the technology. The radial field and tangential field offer the same advantages.
In such embodiments, the sensor elements may comprise vertical Hall effect elements having a plate with a normal that is perpendicular to and intersects with the rotation axis.
It is an advantage that such Hall elements are ideally suited for measuring (only) the radial field component, while being insensitive to the axial or tangential field components.
It is an advantage of using vertical Hall effect elements, because they are built in the depth direction of the semiconductor, e.g. silicon, substrate, and thus occupy less semiconductor area.
It is a further advantage of using vertical Hall elements in that no IMC is required.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the means for calculating is adapted for calculating the ratio of the first sum and the second sum or the ratio of the first average and the second average, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arccotangent of said ratio.
It is an advantage that the angular position can be calculated by relatively simple arithmetic. The goniometric function may be implemented by means of a lookup table, optionally with linear interpolation. The table may be stored in nonvolatile memory.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the number of sensor elements is twice the number of magnetic poles of the multipole magnet. The sensor further comprises a third group and a fourth group of magnetic sensor elements located substantially on the circle, the magnetic sensor elements of the third and fourth group being oriented for detecting at least one magnetic field component. The sensor elements within each of the third and fourth group are located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the third group and an element of the first group being equal to 2×180°=360° divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source, and the angular distance between an element of the fourth group and an element of the first group being equal to 3×180°=540° divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source. The means for calculating is further adapted for calculating a third sum or third average of the signals provided by the elements of the third group, and for calculating a fourth sum or fourth average of the signals provided by the elements of the fourth group. The means for calculating is further adapted for determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more numbers selected from the group consisting of the first sum, the first average, the second sum, the second average, the third sum, the third average, the fourth sum and the fourth average.
It is an advantage of this embodiment that it may provide redundancy, which can be used to further increase the accuracy by averaging tolerances of the components, e.g. nonidealities the magnet field, misalignment of the integrated circuit, tolerances within the integrated circuit, etc.
It is also an advantage of this embodiment that it can provide a reliable measurement, or can indicate an error, e.g. when the two measured angles deviate more than a given threshold value, as the case may be.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a horizontal Hall effect element, and the arrangement further comprises an integrated magnetic concentrator comprising a central part located on top of the horizontal Hall elements, and a plurality of elongated parts located at a distance from the Hall elements and oriented in radial directions.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a horizontal Hall effect element, and the arrangement further comprises an integrated magnetic concentrator comprising a central part, and a plurality of elongated parts each located on top of one of the Hall elements and oriented in radial directions.
In embodiments of the arrangement according to the present invention, the means for calculating is further adapted for calculating a first difference between the first sum and the third sum, and for calculating a second difference between the second sum and the fourth sum. The means for calculating is further adapted for calculating the ratio of the first difference and the second difference, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arc cotangent of said ratio.
It is an advantage that by using this particular algorithm, that the angular position provided by such an arrangement is additionally robust for (e.g. substantially insensitive to) a constant external field gradient, or in other words, insensitive to the zero and first order terms of a nonuniform external magnetic field. In this way, the magnetic field caused by a current carrying conductor can be considerably reduced. This advantage cannot be underestimated, especially in an automotive environment, in particular under the hood.
In a third aspect of the present invention, a use is provided of such an arrangement for calculating an angular position in an automotive environment.
It is particularly advantageous to use the proposed arrangement under the hood, where substantially large currents flowing in conductors may cause large disturbance fields, since the arrangement is highly insensitive to both the zero order term as well as the first order terms thereof.
In a fourth aspect of the present invention, a method is provided for determining an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator using the arrangement as described above. The method comprises the steps of: calculating a first sum or a first average of the signals provided by the first group of sensor elements; calculating a second sum or second average of the signals provided by the second group of elements; determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more numbers selected from the group consisting of the first sum, the first average, the second sum and the second average.
In embodiments of the method according to the present invention, the method further comprising the step of subtracting the signals of the elements of each pair so as to provide a combined signal for the calculation of the first resp. second sum or first resp. second average.
Each pair of horizontal Hall elements in this configuration provide in fact a single value.
In embodiments of the method according to the present invention, the method further comprises: calculating the ratio of the first sum and the second sum or the ratio of the first average and the second average; determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arc cotangent of said ratio.
In embodiments of the method according to the present invention, the method further comprises: calculating a third sum or third average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the third group, and for calculating a fourth sum or fourth average of the signals provided by the sensor elements of the fourth group; determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more numbers selected from the group consisting of the first sum, the first average, the second sum, the second average, the third sum, the third average, the fourth sum and the fourth average.
In embodiments of the method according to the present invention, the method further comprises a step of calculating a first difference between the first sum and the third sum, and a second difference between the second sum and the fourth sum, and the ratio of the first difference and the second difference; and determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arc cotangent of said ratio.
According to a fifth aspect, the present invention provides an integrated sensor circuit for measuring an angular position of a rotor with respect to a stator, the rotor being rotatable around a rotation axis and comprising a magnetic source mounted on the rotor for creating a magnetic field, the magnetic source being a multipole magnet having a number of magnetic poles for generating a periodically repetitive magnetic field pattern with respect to the rotation axis, the number of magnetic poles being at least four; the stator having a fixed position with respect to the rotation axis, the integrated sensor circuit being mountable to the stator in the vicinity of the multipole magnet and in line with the rotation axis in a plane substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis at a first distance from the magnetic source. The integrated sensor circuit comprises: a plurality of sensor elements, each sensor element being adapted for measuring at least one magnetic field component of the magnetic field and for providing a measurement signal indicative of the strength of the at least one magnetic field component at the location of the sensor element, the sensor elements being located substantially on a circle at a distance from the rotation axis, and being oriented for detecting the at least one magnetic field component; the plurality of sensor elements being partitioned in a first group and a second group, the elements within each group being located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the first group and an element of the second group being equal to 180° divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source; means for calculating the angular position of the rotor from the provided signals; and wherein the means for calculating is adapted for calculating a first sum or first average of the signals provided by the elements of the first group, and for calculating a second sum or second average of the signals provided by the elements of the second group, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on one or more number selected from the group consisting of the first sum, first average, the second sum and the second average.
It is an advantage of such an integrated circuit that it provides an accurate angular position, which is substantially insensitive or has a reduced sensitivity to an external magnetic field, and which is substantially insensitive or has a reduced sensitivity to positioning errors of the integrated circuit with respect to the rotation axis, while providing an improved sensitivity. This integrated circuit is ideally suited for measuring absolute angular positions in systems where the total angle is less than 360°, for example less than 180° in case a 4pole magnet is used, or less than 120° in case a 6pole magnet is used, etc. This may provide a more accurate positioning e.g. in applications like controlling a valve.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a vertical Hall effect element having a plate with a normal that is tangential to the circle.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, each sensing element comprise a pair of horizontal Hall effect elements located on the circle adjacent to each other, and having plates oriented substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis, and IMC segments for bending the local tangential magnetic field into a direction substantially perpendicular to the plates.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a vertical Hall effect element having a plate with a normal that is perpendicular to and intersects with the rotation axis.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, the means for calculating is further adapted for calculating the ratio of the first sum and the second sum or the ratio of the first average and the second average and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arc cotangent of said ratio.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, the number of sensor elements is twice the number of magnetic poles of the multipole magnet; and the integrated circuit further comprises a third group and a fourth group of magnetic sensor elements located substantially on the circle, the magnetic sensor elements of the third and fourth group being oriented for detecting at least one magnetic field component, the sensor elements within each of the third and fourth group being located at equidistant angular positions on the circle, the angular distance between an element of the third group and an element of the first group being equal to 2×180°=360° divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source, and the angular distance between an element of the fourth group and an element of the first group being equal to 3×180°=540° divided by the number of magnet poles of the magnetic source; and the means for calculating is further adapted for calculating a third sum or third average of the signals provided by the elements of the third group, and for calculating a fourth sum or fourth average of the signals provided by the elements of the fourth group; and the means for calculating is further adapted for determining the angular position based on one or more numbers selected from the group consisting of the first sum, the first average, the second sum, the second average, the third sum, the third average, the fourth sum and the fourth average.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a horizontal Hall effect element, and the integrated circuit further comprises an integrated magnetic concentrator comprising a central part located on top of the horizontal Hall elements, and a plurality of elongated parts located at a distance from the Hall elements and oriented in radial directions.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, each sensor element comprises a horizontal Hall effect element, and the integrated circuit further comprises an integrated magnetic concentrator comprising a central part and a plurality of elongated parts each located on top of one of the Hall elements and oriented in radial directions.
In embodiments of the integrated circuit according to the present invention, the means for calculating is further adapted for calculating a first difference between the first sum and the third sum, and for calculating a second difference between the second sum and the fourth sum; and the means for calculating is further adapted for calculating the ratio of the first difference and the second difference, and for determining the angular position of the rotor based on the arctangent or arc cotangent of said ratio.
In a sixth aspect of the present invention, a use is provided of such an integrated circuit for calculating an angular position in an automotive environment.
Particular and preferred aspects of the invention are set out in the accompanying independent and dependent claims. Features from the dependent claims may be combined with features of the independent claims and with features of other dependent claims as appropriate and not merely as explicitly set out in the claims.
These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiment(s) described hereinafter.
The drawings are only schematic and are nonlimiting. In the drawings, the size of some of the elements may be exaggerated and not drawn on scale for illustrative purposes.
Any reference signs in the claims shall not be construed as limiting the scope.
In the different drawings, the same reference signs refer to the same or analogous elements.
The present invention will be described with respect to particular embodiments and with reference to certain drawings but the invention is not limited thereto but only by the claims. The drawings described are only schematic and are nonlimiting. In the drawings, the size of some of the elements may be exaggerated and not drawn on scale for illustrative purposes. The dimensions and the relative dimensions do not correspond to actual reductions to practice of the invention.
The terms first, second and the like in the description and in the claims, are used for distinguishing between similar elements and not necessarily for describing a sequence, either temporally, spatially, in ranking or in any other manner. It is to be understood that the terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances and that the embodiments of the invention described herein are capable of operation in other sequences than described or illustrated herein.
Moreover, the terms top, under and the like in the description and the claims are used for descriptive purposes and not necessarily for describing relative positions. It is to be understood that the terms so used are interchangeable under appropriate circumstances and that the embodiments of the invention described herein are capable of operation in other orientations than described or illustrated herein.
It is to be noticed that the term “comprising”, used in the claims, should not be interpreted as being restricted to the means listed thereafter; it does not exclude other elements or steps. It is thus to be interpreted as specifying the presence of the stated features, integers, steps or components as referred to, but does not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps or components, or groups thereof. Thus, the scope of the expression “a device comprising means A and B” should not be limited to devices consisting only of components A and B. It means that with respect to the present invention, the only relevant components of the device are A and B.
Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment, but may. Furthermore, the particular features, structures or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner, as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art from this disclosure, in one or more embodiments.
Similarly it should be appreciated that in the description of exemplary embodiments of the invention, various features of the invention are sometimes grouped together in a single embodiment, figure, or description thereof for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure and aiding in the understanding of one or more of the various inventive aspects. This method of disclosure, however, is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed invention requires more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in less than all features of a single foregoing disclosed embodiment. Thus, the claims following the detailed description are hereby expressly incorporated into this detailed description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate embodiment of this invention.
Furthermore, while some embodiments described herein include some but not other features included in other embodiments, combinations of features of different embodiments are meant to be within the scope of the invention, and form different embodiments, as would be understood by those in the art. For example, in the following claims, any of the claimed embodiments can be used in any combination.
In the description provided herein, numerous specific details are set forth. However, it is understood that embodiments of the invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, wellknown methods, structures and techniques have not been shown in detail in order not to obscure an understanding of this description.
When reference is made to “external (unwanted) magnetic field”, the magnetic field other than that caused by the “magnetic source” mounted to the rotor, e.g. a permanent magnet, is meant.
With a magnetic source having a “rotation symmetrical” field is meant that the magnetic field looks the same after the magnetic source is rotated around its axis with a angle smaller than 360°, e.g. 180° for a fourpole ring magnet or disk magnet, or 120° for a sixpole ring magnet or disk magnet, etc.
With a uniform external field is meant a field with a constant amplitude and a constant direction. Such a field can be described as a constant vector (Bxo, Byo, Bzo).
The sensor 6 is arranged at a distance d1 “below” the magnet 5, and is located substantially in line with the rotation axis 4, and is located in a plane β substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis 4. The sensor 6 comprises at least four sensor elements located in a plane β substantially perpendicular to the rotation axis 4, for measuring one or more magnetic field components Br, Bt, Bz, and means for calculating the angular position α of the rotor 2 from the signals provided by those sensor elements, as will be described further. In embodiments of the present invention, the distance d1 is between zero and the outer diameter of the magnet 5. In particular embodiments, the distance d1 may be selected to be between 10 and 30% of the outer magnet diameter. If the magnet is not circular shaped, the diameter may be the diameter of a circumscribing circle. Alternatively, for noncircular shaper magnets, the distance d1 may be between zero and the side length of the magnet, the side length being the length of the largest side of the magnet.
In what follows, it will be assumed that the magnet 5 is a multipole ring magnet, but as already explained, the invention is not limited to ring magnets.
sum1=S1+S2; (1)
sum2=T1+T2; (2)
The sensor elements within each group S, T are located equidistantly, e.g. at an angular distance of 720°/Np=e.g. 180° apart for a fourpole magnet, e.g. VH1 and VH3 are located 180° apart, as well as VH2 and VH4.
The angular distance between an element VH2 of the first group S and an element VH1 of the second group T is equal to 180° divided by the number Np of magnetic poles of the magnetic source 5, e.g. the angular distance between VH2 and VH1 is 180°/4=45°.
By positioning the sensor elements VH1 and VH3 at 180° apart, and the sensor elements VH2 and VH4 180° apart (in general 720°/Np, where Np is the number of poles, in the example Np=4), and a sensor element VH2 of the first group S at an angular distance of 180°/Np=45° with respect to an element VH1 of the second group T, the value of sum1 varies like a sine function of the number of pole pares multiplied by the position angle of the rotor 2, e.g. twice the position angle of the rotor 2, i.e. 2α in case of four poles as in the example illustrated, or 3α in case of a sixpole magnet, and the value of sum2 varies as a cosine function of the number of pole pares multiplied by the position angle of the rotor 2, e.g. 2α in case of a fourpole magnet, or 3α in case of a sixpole magnet, apart from a predefined offset, which can be determined during manufacturing, or can be measured during calibration, and is not taken into account further. One can then calculate a ratio R as (for the example illustrated):
R=sum1/sum2=tan(2α) (3)
and the angle α can then be calculated as:
α=(arctan R)/2. (4a)
Alternatively, the angle α may also be calculated as:
α=(arccotan(sum2/sum1))/2 (4b)
or by using equivalent formulas.
It is to be noted that instead of calculating the sum of the values of each group S, T, one could also calculate the average value of each group, and calculate the ratio of the first average avg1 and the second average avg2, etc, which would yield the same result for the angular position α, since the average is sum divided by 2, and thus the ratio R would remain unchanged.
The configuration of
The configuration of
sum1=S1+S2; (5)
sum2=T1+T2; (6)
By positioning the sensor elements VH1 and VH3 at 180° apart, and the sensor elements VH2 and VH4 180° apart (in general 720°/Np, where Np is the number of poles, in the example Np=4), and a sensor element VH2 of the first group S at an angular distance of 180°/Np=45° with respect to an element VH1 of the second group T, the value of sum1 varies, in the 4pole embodiment illustrated, like a sine function of twice the position angle of the rotor 2, i.e. 2α, and the value of sum2 varies as a cosine function of 2α, apart from a predefined offset.
One can then calculate a ratio R as:
R=sum1/sum2=tan(2α) (7)
and the angle α can then be calculated as:
α=(arctan R)/2 (8)
As mentioned above, the angle α may also be calculated using the arccotan function.
It is to be noted that instead of calculating the sum of the values of a group, one could also calculate the average value of each group S, T, calculate the ratio R of the averages, etc, which would yield the same result for the angular position α, since the average is sum divided by 2, and thus the ratio R would remain unchanged.
The configuration of
The sensor elements HH1, HH3 of the first group S provide the signals S1, S2 respectively. The sensor elements HH2, HH4 of the second group T provide the signals T1, T2 respectively. The signals S1 and S2 of the first group are added (not subtracted as in EP0916074B1) to form a first sum1, the signals T1 and T2 of the second group are added to form a second sum2.
sum1=S1+S2; (9)
sum2=T1+T2; (10)
By positioning the sensor elements HH1 and HH3 at equidistant angular positions, e.g. 180° apart, and the sensor elements HH2 and HH4 180° apart (in general 720°/Np, where Np is the number of poles, in the example Np=4), and a sensor element HH1 of the first group S at an angular distance of 180°/Np=45° with respect to an element HH2 of the second group T, the value of sum1 varies like a sine function of twice the position angle of the rotor 2, i.e. 2α, and the value of sum2 varies as a cosine function of 2α, apart from a predefined offset.
One can then calculate a ratio R as:
R=sum1/sum2=tan(2α) (11)
and the angle α can then be calculated as:
α=(arctan R)/2 (12)
As mentioned above, the angle α may also be calculated using the arccotan function.
It is to be noted that instead of calculating the sum of the values of a group, one could also calculate the average value of each group, and the ratio of the averages, etc, which would yield a similar result. The configuration of
By means of
The position error sensitivity of these sensors, in particular the radial position sensitivity, will be described next, in relation to
When comparing
An arrangement with a sixpole ring magnet will be explained next, in relation to
The measurement of the radial and tangential field components could be based on the principle of 3phase sinecosine sensing. The following equations are valid for such a measurement:
S1=Bmag*sin(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext−2π/3); (13)
S2=Bmag*sin(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext−4π/3;) (14)
S3=Bmag*sin(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext;) (15)
T1=Bmag*cos(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext−5π/6); (16)
T2=Bmag*cos(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext−3π/2); (17)
T3=Bmag*cos(3α)+Bext*Cos(φext−π/6); (18)
where Bmag represents the magnitude of the magnetic field to be measured (e.g. the field created by the sixpole magnet 5), and Bext represents the magnitude of a unidirectional external magnetic field under an angle φext with respect to the stator.
sum1=S1+S2+S3=3*Bmag*sin(3α); (19)
sum2=T1+T2+T3=3*Bmag*cos(3α); (20)
and:
ratio R=sum1/sum2=tg(3α), (21)
thus the magnitude of the constant magnetic field Bext is eliminated.
Referring back to
sum1=S1+S2+S3˜sin(3α), (22)
whereby “˜” means “is proportional to”.
And a second sum sum2 is calculated as the sum of the signals T1, T2, T3 generated by the elements of the second group T:
sum2=T1+T2+T3˜cos(3α) (23)
One can then calculate a ratio R as:
R=sum1/sum2=tan(3α) (24)
and the angle α can then be calculated as:
α=(arctan R)/3 (25)
In embodiments of the present invention, the sensor 6 may be an integrated circuit, e.g. implemented in CMOS technology, and the means for calculating the angle α may be embedded on the same chip. Such a chip may further include analogtodigital convertors (not shown) for digitizing the measured signals Si, Ti, and a digital signal processor (DSP) provided with an algorithm for calculating the angle α based on the formulas described above, or equivalent formulas, or tables, or in any other way known by the person skilled in the art.
It is to be noted that instead of calculating the sum of the values of a group, one could also calculate the average value of each group, and the ratio of the averages, etc, which would yield the same result for the ratio R and for the angle α.
The configuration of
It is to be noted that the sensor elements of each group, e.g. the elements VH1, VH2, VH3 of the first group S, form a regular polygon (instead of being located in pairs on opposite diametrical sides of the circle). In
The signals H1, H2, of the pair of adjacent sensor elements are subtracted, so as to form a single signal S1. During the same operation any Bz field from an external (unwanted) field is subtracted, so that it does not impact the reading of S1. The same applies for the signals obtainable from the other pairs.
It is to be noted that the IMC makes an additional gain, but it also rotates the local tangential field component (fluxlines) into an axial direction, substantially perpendicular to the horizontal Hall elements Gi, Hi (i=1 to 6). The former is indicated hereinafter by a multiplication (*IMC), but the latter cannot be expressed by a formula in a simple manner. Thus S1=(H1−H2)˜the strength of the tangential field Bt (at the location of VH1 of
It is to be noted that the arrangement of
Since the difference between two Hall plates which are close to one gap is built, the common mode part (Bz component) is eliminated. As for the differential part (e.g. the part of Bz which is different on H1 compared to H2) it merely adds a harmonic signal with the same periodicity as radial/tangential field and is therefore just adding signal.
The IMC has some kind of periodicity, similar to the magnet field. The dimensions of the IMC are: (a) thickness, which is determined by the technology, and (b) ring width, which is a question of design. Thickness and width must be made such that on one hand they give a good, e.g. the highest, gain on the Hall devices, but on the other hand there must not be saturation effects from the magnetic field bringing nonlinearity. Suitable dimensions can be determined by routine tests, or by trial and error.
In accordance with embodiments of the present invention, the sensor elements are organized in four groups S, T, U, V of three sensor elements each, the number of sensor elements in a group being equal to half the number of poles Np of the magnet. The elements in each group are distributed equidistantly, hence at an angular distance of 720° divided by the number of poles, thus 720°/Np=120°, since Np=6 for the sixpole magnet. The elements of the first group S are thus VH12, VH4 and VH8, the elements of the second group T are VH3, VH7, VH11. The elements of the third group U are VH2, VH6, VH10. The elements of the fourth group V are VH1, VH5, VH9.
The elements of the second group T are located at the positions which would be taken when the elements of the first group S are rotated over 180°/Np, e.g. 30° for a sixpole magnet in the example of
The first group S could comprise the sensors VH12, VH4 and VH8, and their signals S1, S2, S3 would be added to form a combined signal sum1. The second group T could comprise the sensors VH3, VH7 and VH11, and their signals T1, T2, T3 would be added to form a combined signal sum2. The third group U could comprise the sensors VH2, VH6 and VH10, and their signals U1, U2, U3 would be added to form a combined signal sum3. The fourth group V could comprise the sensors VH1, VH5 and VH9, and their signals V1, V2, V3 would be added to form a combined signal sum4.
A first angle α1 could then e.g. be calculated as [arctan(sum1/sum2)]/3+offset1, and a second angle α2 could then e.g. be calculated as [arctan(sum3/sum4)]/3+offset2, whereby offset1 and offset 2 can be determined during manufacturing, e.g. by calibration. The values offset2 and offset1 would typically vary by about 60°. Depending on the application, these angles α1 and α2 could be averaged to form a single angle α, or the two angles α1 and α2 could be compared, and if their values differ above a given threshold, an error signal could be provided by the sensor, as an indication of a problem.
It is to be noted that in the drawings the second, third and fourth group T,U,V are rotated in counterclockwise direction with respect to the first group S, but they could also be rotated in clockwise direction. The formulas for calculating the angle would be identical, but the resulting angular position of the rotor w.r.t. the stator would be measured in the opposite direction. However, such a sensor and method would yield the same advantages.
Another aspect of the present invention will be explained with reference to
After years of ongoing research in the domain of angle sensors, the inventors have surprisingly found that it is also possible to eliminate, or at least partially compensate for a magnetic field having a constant gradient. This means that the external magnetic field and/or a magnetic field component may vary in a linear way in the X and/or Y and/or Zdirection without substantially influencing the measured angle.
H=I/2πr (26)
where I is the current running through the conductor, r is the distance from the conductor at which the field is observed, and B or H are both used to describe the magnetic field, whereby B=μ·H, where μ is a material (or medium) dependent value. Over a small area located at a predefined nonzero distance from the wire, e.g. over the small area defined by the sensor 6, the magnetic field caused by the current in the wire can be approximated by a constant field plus a constant field gradient.
In contrast to
However, when the sensor chip is closer to the conductor, the zeroorder term is not a good approximation anymore. It can be seen, that the magnitude of such a field is proportional to 1/r. So the field contains a gradient which is nonlinear. As an example, when the angular position sensor is placed at a distance of 25.0 mm from a straight current conductor carrying I=400 A, the sensor will see a magnetic flux density of about 3.2 mT generated by this current. If the sensor has a physical dimension of about 1.0 mm, then the part of the sensor closer to the conductor sees a field of 3.14 mT and the part further from the conductor sees a field of 3.27 mT. The external field can thus not be considered constant over the sensor surface, but over such a small distance of 1.0 mm at a relatively large distance of 25.0 mm, the field can be approximated by its zero order and first order terms, while the second and higher order terms are negligible. In other words, a constant value plus a constant (threedimensional) gradient. The inventors have now surprisingly found that it is possible to substantially compensate not only for the zeroorder term (the uniform field as discussed above), but also for these first order terms (the constant gradient), as will be described next.
A first arrangement which is capable to substantially compensate for such a constant gradient is the configuration of
sin(3α)=(S1+S2+S3)−(U1+U2+U3); (27)
cos(3α)=(T1+T2+T3)−(V1+V2+V3); (28)
ratio=sin(3α)/cos(3α)=tan(3α); (29)
α=(arctan ratio)/3; (30)
Alternatively, the following equivalent set of formulas can be used:
sum1=S1+S2+S3; (31)
sum2=T1+T2+T3; (32)
sum3=U1+U2+U3; (33)
sum4=V1+V2+V3; (34)
diff1=sum1−sum3; (35)
diff2=sum2−sum4; (36)
ratio=diff1/diff2=tan(3α); (37)
α=(arctan ratio)/3; (38)
This position sensor 6 has twelve vertical Hall sensing elements VH1 to VH12, adapted for measuring the radial field component (Br) of a sixpole magnet, as shown in
Simulations have shown that such a sensor has the following characteristics:
1) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to position offset.
2) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to a constant external magnetic field.
3) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to an external magnetic field having a substantially constant gradient, e.g. that changes linearly in any of the X, Y, Z directions. As far as known to the inventors, this technical effect is not obtained by prior art angular position sensors. Such a sensor is ideal for industrial or automotive applications, where an angular position needs to be accurately determined, even in environments where unwanted magnetic fields are present, such as caused by currents flowing in (relatively) nearby conductors.
The same formulas as were used for the embodiment of
sin(3α)=(S1+S2+S3)−(U1+U2+U3); (39)
cos(3α)=(T1+T2+T3)−(V1+V2+V3); (40)
ratio=sin(3α)/cos(3α)=tan(3α); (41)
α=(arctan ratio)/3; (42)
And the sensor has the same advantages of i) being substantially insensitive to position offset, and ii) to a constant external magnetic field, and iii) to a constant external field gradient.
In mathematical terms, the insensitivity to a constant external magnetic field, and to a constant magnetic field gradient, may be described as follows. Reference is made to
where (Bxo, Byo, Bzo) is a threedimensional (constant) vector formed by the zeroorder term of the function, and dBn/dm are the field gradients for n=x, y, z and m=x, y, z, and (xs, ys, zs) are the coordinates on the sensor chip.
If the sensor plane is defined as z=0 (e.g. if we position the X, Y, Z axes as shown in
where dBx/dx, dBx/dy, dBx/dz, dBy/dx, etc are constants.
All embodiments explained above with reference to
1) Any homogeneous external magnetic field with vector (Bx0, By0, Bz0) is substantially cancelled out (or at least reduced) and does not disturb the measurement of the angular position, but in addition,
2) Any constant gradient field is also substantially cancelled out (or at least reduced) and does not disturb the angle measurement.
Simulation results using an arrangement as shown in
It is clear that the main advantage of such a sensor is that it can measure the position with an improved accuracy, even in the presence of an external magnetic field caused by a current flowing in one or more conductors, such as is the case “under the hood” of a vehicle.
The eight Hall elements HH1 to HH8 are divided in four groups S, T, U, V, each group comprising half the number of poles of the magnet, hence 2 elements (Np=4 for the fourpole magnet). The elements in each group are distributed equidistantly, hence at an angular distance of 720°/Np=180°. The elements of the second group T are located at the positions which would be taken when the elements of the first group S are rotated over 180°/Np or 45° in this example. The elements of the third group U are located at the positions which would be taken when the elements of the first group S are rotated over 2×180°/Np, or 90° in this example. The elements of the fourth group V are located at the positions which would be taken when the elements of the first group S are rotated over 3×180°/Np, or 135° in this example.
The angular position between the sensor and the rotor is calculated as follows:
sum1=S1+S2 (45)
sum2=T1+T2 (46)
sum3=U1+U2 (47)
sum4=V1+V2 (48)
diff1=sum1−sum3 (49)
diff2=sum2−sum4 (50)
ratio=diff1/diff2=tan(2α); (51)
and the angle α can then be calculated as:
α=(arctan R)/2 (52).
Simulations have shown that this sensor has the following characteristics:
1) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to position offset, (even though not perfect if the diameter of the imaginary circle is too small, as discussed in relation with
2) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to a constant external magnetic field,
3) the position α thus determined is substantially insensitive (or at least has a reduced sensitivity) to “some” constant field gradients, in particular dBz/dx and dBz/dy, but in contrast to the sixpole magnet, not to the other first order terms: dBx/dx, dBx/dy, dBy/dx and dBy/dy. Nevertheless, this embodiment is still an improvement of prior art sensors, which do not compensate against any field gradient.
Preliminary simulations seem to indicate that the advantages obtained by the sensor of
But the invention is not limited to an eightpole, and in a similar manner, the magnetic field caused by a tenpole magnet could be measured by twenty sensor elements, partitioned in four groups S, T, U, V, each group having 5 sensor elements located at an equidistant angle of 360°/5=72° on a virtual circle, the elements of the second group T being located at the positions which would be assumed when the elements of the first group S would be rotated over 180°/Np=18° since Np=10 for an eightpole magnet. The elements of the third group U being located at the positions which would be assumed when the elements of the second group T would be rotated over another 18°, and the elements of the fourth group V being located at the positions which would be assumed when the elements of the third group U would be rotated over another 18°.
The following table summarizes the most important features of several envisioned sensors with a 4pole and 6pole ring magnet, most of which embodiments are described in detail above. Some simulations and tests are still ongoing.