Wireless surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensors have some unique features that make them promising for industrial metrology. Their decisive advantage lies in their purely passive operation and the wireless readout capability allowing the installation also at particularly inaccessible locations. Furthermore, they are small, low-cost and rugged components on highly stable substrate materials and thus particularly suited for harsh environments. Nevertheless, a sensor itself does not carry out any measurement but always requires a suitable excitation and interrogation circuit: a reader. A variety of different architectures have been presented and investigated up to now. This review paper gives a comprehensive survey of the present state of reader architectures such as time domain sampling (TDS), frequency domain sampling (FDS) and hybrid concepts for both SAW resonators and reflective SAW delay line sensors. Furthermore, critical performance parameters such as measurement accuracy, dynamic range, update rate, and hardware costs of the state of the art in science and industry are presented, compared and discussed.
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