A Novel Wave Height Sensor

Rick Chapman The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

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F. M. Monaldo The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland

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Abstract

A novel transducer for the measurement of water level is described. This transducer consists of a tantalum wire anodized in a weak citric acid solution. The anodization forms a uniform, thin layer of tantalum oxide on the surface of the wire. When partially submerged through an air-water interface, the capacitance of the wire is directly proportional to the water level. This transducer has been applied in oceanographic research buoys to measure gravity and capillary wave height. In this application, the transducer offers greater sensitivity, linearity, and ruggedness than conventional capacitive wave sensors.

Abstract

A novel transducer for the measurement of water level is described. This transducer consists of a tantalum wire anodized in a weak citric acid solution. The anodization forms a uniform, thin layer of tantalum oxide on the surface of the wire. When partially submerged through an air-water interface, the capacitance of the wire is directly proportional to the water level. This transducer has been applied in oceanographic research buoys to measure gravity and capillary wave height. In this application, the transducer offers greater sensitivity, linearity, and ruggedness than conventional capacitive wave sensors.

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