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Mercury Switch

A mercury switch,also known as a mercury tilt switch, is a switch whose purpose is to allow or interrupt the flow of electric current in an electrical circuit in a manner dependent on its physical position or alignment relative to the direction of the pull of earth's gravity, or other inertia.

The mercury switch consists of one or more sets of electrical contacts in a sealed glass envelope which contains a bead of mercury. The envelope may also contain air, an inert gas or a vacuum. Gravity is constantly pulling the drop of mercury to the lowest point in the envelope. When the switch is tilted in the appropriate direction, the mercury touches a set of contacts, completing the electrical circuit through those contacts. Tilting the switch in the opposite direction causes the mercury to move away from that set of contacts, breaking that circuit. The switch may contain multiple sets of contacts, closing different sets at different angles allowing, for example, Single-Pole, Double-Throw (SPDT) operation.