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

BPN948: Wireless Tactile Stimulation with MEMS Inchworm Motors

Dillon Acker-James

The goal of this project is to make an untethered MEMS tactile stimulator. Electrostatic inchworm motors made in SOI substrates routinely generate 1-15 mN of force and 2 mm/s travel, making them a viable option for a millimeter-scale wireless tactile stimulator. Collaborating with Professor Eric Paulos and his students, our first step is to conduct haptic sensation surveys in order to understand what a user feels based on different forces. Our current chips provide a force range of 1mN up to 15mN, but we plan to increase this in the future. Our next step would be to integrate the MEMS...

Facile Fabrication of Multilayer Stretchable Electronics via a Two-Mode Mechanical Cutting Process

Renxiao Xu
Peisheng He
Guangchen Lan
Kamyar Behrouzi
Yande Peng
Dongkai Wang
Tao Jiang
Ashley Lee
Yu Long
Liwei Lin
A time- and cost-effective fabrication methodology via a two-mode mechanical cutting process for multilayer stretchable electronics has been developed without using the conventional photolithography-based processes. A commercially available vinyl cutter is used for defining complex patterns on designated material layers by adjusting the applied force and the depth of the cutting blade. Two distinct modes of mechanical cutting can be achieved and employed to establish the basic fabrication procedures for common features in stretchable electronics, such as the metal interconnects, contact...

Programmable Tactile Feedback Patterns for Cognitive Assistance by Flexible Electret Actuators

Tao Jiang
Wenying Qiu
Zhaoyang Li
Xing Ye
Yuhan Liu
Yushi Li
Xiaohao Wang
Junwen Zhong
Xiang Qian
Liwei Lin

Advanced tactile feedback systems are important tools in the field of human–machine interfaces. In this work, an airflow-assisted corona charging process is utilized to charge films made of electret material for the construction of a sandwich-structured flexible actuator system. With a voltage as low as 20 V, this flexible actuator can stimulate skin sensations for basic tactile feedback functions. Under a driving voltage of 200 V, the system can generate an output force of ≈55 mN, which is larger than that of the output force by cellphones under the vibration mode. Utilizing these...

Deep Learning for Non-Parameterized MEMS Structural Design

Ruiqi Guo
Fanping Sui
Wei Yue
Sedat Pala
Kunying Li
Renxiao Xu
Liwei Lin

The geometric designs of MEMS devices can profoundly impact their physical properties and eventual performances. However, it is challenging for researchers to rationally consider a large number of possible designs, as it would be very time- and resource-consuming to study all these cases using numerical simulation. In this paper, we report the use of deep learning techniques to accelerate the MEMS design cycle by quickly and accurately predicting the physical properties of numerous design candidates with vastly different geometric features. Design candidates are represented in a...

Jordan L. Edmunds

Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Professor Michel M. Maharbiz (Advisor)
Ph.D. 2022

NT25: VLSI MEMS Switch

Qingquan Liu

Two important advantages of MEMS switches are their ability to survive heat and radiation. In addition, there has been increasing demand for passing transistor replacement in specific reconfigurable computing and signal routing application; passing transistors used in VLSI exhibit on-state resistances of thousands of ohms or more, which causes signal delay and increased power consumption. In this project, the design, fabrication and characterization of MEMS contact switches customized for VLSI are presented, herein referred to as “VLSI MEMS switches”.

Project end...

NT23: Ni Electroplated Vertical Comb-Drive Actuator

Zhihong Li

A low-cost, vertical comb-drive actuator has been developed employing a thick photoresist and electroplating process. The vertical comb-drive actuator (VCA) will be employed for optical applications such as scanning mirrors and optical communication as well as other devices such as tunable capacitors

Project end date: 08/18/04

BPN959: Self-Righting for Micro Robots

Alexander Alvara

In developing micro-robots for exploration in non-uniform terrain, it is often the case that robots fall over. This work seeks to provide a solution in the self-righting of autonomous micro-robots to overturn a 1cc, 1 gram cube microrobot with regular octahedral symmetry that has fallen on either of its four sides and overturning said microrobot once upside down. Our design currently consists of a 3-bar linkage in conjunction with an electrostatic inchworm motor. First-generation devices are in fab as of August. Hand analysis indicates that self-righting from any face should be...

BPN857: Miniature Autonomous Rockets

Alexander Alvara

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,...

BPN930: Robust MEMS Inchworm Motors

Daniel Teal
Dillon Acker-James
Alex Moreno
Alexander Alvara

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...