Sensors that remotely track the displacement of a moving object have a wide range of applications from robotic control to motion capture. In this paper, we introduce a simple, small silicon integrated circuit sensor that tracks the angular displacement of an object tagged with a small light source, such as a light-emitting diode (LED). This sensor uses a new angular transduction mechanism, differential diffusion of photoelectrons generated from the light spot cast by the light tag onto a Si anode, that is described by a simple physics model using pinhole optics and carrier diffusion. Because the light spot is formed by a pinhole aperture integrated on the sensor chip, no external focusing optics are needed, reducing system complexity, size, and weight. Prototype sensors based on this model were fabricated and their basic characteristics are presented. These sensors transduce angular displacement of an LED across orthogonal latitudinal and longitudinal arcs into normalized differential photocathode currents with signal linearly proportional to LED angular position across a ± 40° field-of-view. These sensors offer potential performance and ease-of-use benefits compared to existing displacement sensor technologies.
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