Physical Sensors & Devices

Research that includes:

  • Silicon MEMS actuators: comb, electro-thermal, and plastic deformation
  • Precision electronic sensing and measurements of capacitive, frequency, and coulombic MEMS variables
  • Structures and architectures for gyroscopes, accelerometers, micro strain gauges for direct application to rigid structures e.g., steel, and levitated MEMS

BPN920: Sweat Rate Sensors with High-Throughput Fabrication

Noelle Davis
Jonghwa Park
2022

While recent sweat analysis has overwhelmingly focused on measuring biomarker concentrations, one of the most physiologically informative parameters is actually sweat secretion rate. Sweat rate is important to track as it modulates the concentrations of secreted analytes, but even stand-alone it can indicate evolving or unfavorable health conditions including cardiac complications, nerve damage, and dehydration. Precise and continuous sweat sensors are therefore an important component of wearable sweat sensing technology. Various sensing schemes and form factors can be used for sweat rate...

Synthesis and Gas Sensing Properties of NiO/ZnO Heterostructured Nanowires

Sikai Zhao
Yanbai Shen
Yong Xia
Aifei Pan
Zhou Li
Carlo Carraro
Roya Maboudian
2021

In this study, we report on the synthesis of the NiO/ZnO heterostructured nanowires by a facile two-step liquid phase route and their gas sensing characteristics employing Au interdigitated electrodes integrated on a miniature ceramic heater. Microstructural characterizations indicate that flocculent NiO particles are uniformly assembled on the outer surfaces of the single-crystalline ZnO nanowires, with diameters around 50 nm and lengths ranging from 500 nm to several μm. The gas sensing investigation indicates that the sensors based on NiO/ZnO heterostructured nanowires exhibit high...

In-Situ Synthesized N-Doped ZnO for Enhanced CO2 Sensing: Experiments and DFT Calculations

Yong Xia
Aifei Pan
Ya-Qiong Su
Sikai Zhao
Zhou Li
Adrian K. Davey
Libo Zhao
Carlo Carraro
Roya Maboudian
2022

Chemiresistive CO2 sensing is attractive due to low cost and ease of chip-level integration. Our previous studies (Yong Xia, 2021) showed the well-developed ZnO material fabricated by in-situ annealing exhibited good CO2 sensing performance. Here, we have expanded on those studies, including CO2 cyclic tests under both dry air and N2 background whereby a much higher response to CO2 in N2 background was observed. Detailed density functional theory calculations were conducted to understand the behavior. The results indicated nitrogen doping is mainly responsible for the observed response. In...

A New Chemresistive NO2 Sensing Material: Hafnium Diboride

Sikai Zhao
Yong Xia
Steven DelaCruz
Aifei Pan
Zhou Li
Yanbai Shen
Marcus A. Worsley
Carlo Carraro
Roya Maboudian
2022

While metal oxides and metal sulfides have been extensively studied for gas sensing applications, there are no extensive reports on gas sensing properties of metal diborides. Here, for the first time, we have investigated the conductometric gas sensing behavior of HfB2 nanoparticles. The HfB2 nanoparticles is synthesized via a sol-gel method and characterized using X-ray diffraction, field emission scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The gas sensor is fabricated by drop casting the HfB2 nanoparticles on interdigitated Ag/Pd...

BPN930: Robust MEMS Inchworm Motors

Daniel Teal
Dillon Acker-James
Alex Moreno
Alexander Alvara
2022

We are developing robust, high force, low power, and efficient MEMS inchworm motors for microrobots. So far, we have created 3x4.7mm motors in a 40um SOI process capable of linearly actuating a shuttle with 15mN force and 5mm/s travel at < 1mW power draw to > 50mm displacement. By integrating these motors into 550um thick reinforcing silicon substrate structures we created a microgripper capable of reliably lifting 1g weights and other macroscopic objects. We also showed gripper operation off solar power in BSAC project BPN873. Finally, we have analyzed motor efficiency, an...

BPN958: Printed Miniaturized Li-Ion Batteries for Autonomous Microsystems

Anju Toor
2022

Despite the popularity and widespread demand for miniaturized electronic devices, limited advances have been made to design energy storage mechanisms that can satisfy their power and size requirements. We have developed a fabrication process to produce miniature Li-ion batteries by combining the stencil printing process to deposit thick high capacity electrodes and an adhesive based sealing method for battery packaging, with active areas as small as 1 mm2. The battery consists of printed anode and cathode layers based on graphite and lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) respectively. These...

BPN857: Miniature Autonomous Rockets

Alexander Alvara
2022

Pico air vehicles (PAVs), sub-5cm aerial vehicles, are becoming more feasible due to advances in wireless mesh networks, millimeter-scale propulsion, battery technology, and MEMS control surfaces. Our goal is to develop an aerodynamic MEMS control surface that could be used in PAV applications. This device will use electrostatic inchworm motors (capable of outputting 15mN) to extend an airfoil through 10 degrees. Using information from previous work that demonstrated roll control, we expect to extend automated flight control to pitch and yaw. We predict and output torque of 2.3 uNm,...

BPN946: Sensor for Natural Sweat Analysis

Jonghwa Park
Shu Wang
Noelle Davis
2022

Wearable sweat sensors have emerged as attractive platforms for non-invasive health monitoring. While most sweat sensors have relied on exercise or chemical stimulation to generate sweat, natural thermoregulatory sweat is an attractive alternative as it can be accessed during routine and even sedentary activity without impeding user lifestyles, while also potentially preserving correlations between sweat and blood biomarkers. For rapid accumulation of natural sweat that enables quick, single-point measurement of sweat analytes, we develop a simple, glove-based sensing platform to capture...

BPN608: FM Gyroscope

Burak Eminoglu
2022

MEMS gyroscopes for consumer devices, such as smartphones and tablets, suffer from high power consumption and drift which precludes their use in inertial navigation applications. Conventional MEMS gyroscopes detect Coriolis force through measurement of very small displacements on a sense axis, which requires low-noise, and consequently high-power, electronics. The sensitivity of the gyroscope is improved through mode-matching, but this introduces many other problems, such as low bandwidth and unreliable scale factor. Additionally, the conventional Coriolis force detection method is very...

BPN972: Temperature-Insensitive Resonant Strain Sensor

Xintian Liu
2022

Explore the ultimate capability of a vibrating ring-based electrical stiffness-based resonant strain sensor, rigorously confirming a superior insensitivity to temperature that should permit it to operate under wide temperature excursions, such as experienced in harsh automotive environments.