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

BPN604: Readout Circuits for AlN Resonant Sensors

Igor I. Izyumin

Resonant MEMS sensors are commonly used for sensing pressure, mass, force, strain, and acceleration. Resonant readout is particularly attractive for piezoelectric sensors, since it is the only method that allows measurement of static or slowly-varying quantities. Fundamentally, resonant readout relies on a fixed dependence between the quantity to be measured and the resonant frequency of a mechanical structure. However, the resonant frequency is generally also a strong function of several unwanted variables, including temperature, fabrication variability, and packaging stress. One...

BPN605: Thin Film MEMS Pressure Sensor for Detection of Pressure Fluctuations in a Rat Brain due to Blast Injury

David G. Bonner

Explosion or blast injuries account for the largest number of injuries sustained in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For non-penetrating brain injuries, there is a lack of concrete scientific knowledge to explain how kinetic energy from a blast transfers into pressure transients in the brain. Animal model studies of the effects of traumatic brain injuries in rats are currently being conducted. A thin film MEMS pressure sensor has been modified for implantation into a rat brain, and is able to sense dynamic pressure waves a rat is exposed to in a blast. Additionally, the sensor is able...

BPN582: HEaTS: Structurally Multifunctional Actuation and Readout Techniques for MEMS (SMART MEMS)

Kamran Shavezipur
Jamie Young

The goal of this project is to develop multifunctional sensors for harsh environment where using one device different physical parameters can be measured. The main focus for the current phase is on a multifunctional temperature-pressure sensor that simultaneously measures both pressure and temperature using a smart structure and capacitive readout.

Project end date: 01/26/12

BPN481: HEaTS: Aluminum Nitride Technology for Inertial Sensors

Gabriele Vigevani

The goal of this work is to design and fabricate inertial sensors based on c-axis oriented AlN polycrystalline thin films. AlN is a post-CMOS compatible piezoelectric material widely used for acoustic resonators, such Bulk Acoustic Wave (BAW) and Lamb Wave Resonators (LWR). In this work we develop the design techniques necessary to obtain inertial sensors with AlN thin film technology. Being able to use AlN as structural material for both acoustic wave resonator and sensing elements is key to achieve the three level integration of RF-MEMS components, sensing elements and CMOS in the...

BPN537: Liquid Bearing Micromotors

Brian Yoxall
Mei-Lin Chan

This project aims to develop a free, untethered micro-rotary platform based on liquid bearing support. The liquid bearing is essentially a small volume of fluid confined between the rotor and stator by patterned Teflon surface coatings. These bearings have the distinct advantage of being minimally affected by wear and capable of supporting both static and shock loads with reduced mechanical vibrations. The rotor is actuated through three phase electrostatic driving by etching notches in the perimeter of the silicon rotor and depositing metal electrodes onto the glass stator substrate...

BPN641: InAs XOI Gas Sensor

Junghyo Nah

The objective of InAs XOI gas sensor project is twofold. First, the role of size effect on sensor performance will be systematically investigated. Our XOI device structure provides a unique platform to perform this study since we can precisely control material thicknesses and transfer them on a SiO2/Si substrate. Based on this study, we will determine physical role of size effect on sensor performance. This result will be also essential to determine an optimum NR thickness for gas sensors. Secondly, we will implement multiple gas detection sensor modules on a single chip by...

APP96: HEaTS Sensors for Extreme Harsh Environments

Debbie Senesky

The goal of the Harsh Environment and Telemetry Systems (HEaTS) program is to deliver a wireless sensor module with MEMS-based silicon carbide (SiC)sensors integrated with SiC interface circuits for extreme harsh environment applications.

Project end date: 08/13/12

BPN388: Micro Autonomous Air Vehicles

Ankur Mehta

This project considers the design and implementation of a guidance and control system for small scale autonomous air vehicles, in particular helicopters. A two gram inertial navigation unit has been designed and built for this purpose, using a three axis angular rate sensor and three axis accelerometer for trajectory measurements, along with a microprocessor and 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 radio. A smart IR camera is used to determine localization information. This extremely low mass wireless enabled sensor mote can be used as a platform for two-fist sized autonomous vehicles, and this system...

BPN539: Micromechanically-Enhanced Magnetoresistive Sensors

Gerardo Jaramillo
Andre Guedes

Magnetoresistive (MR) sensors are highly sensitive magnetic field sensors but suffer from large 1/f noise. We have developed a new approach for reducing the 1/f noise in MR sensors by using a MEMS resonator to mechanically modulate the magnetic field signal to a high frequency, where the 1/f noise vanishes. This mechanism improves the MR element sensitivity by 2-3 orders of magnitude in the low frequency sensing range. A fully integrated fabrication process was developed, where the MR sensor is fabricated first on the surface of a SOI wafer and the MEMS actuators are fabricated last...

BPN656: Airborne Particulate Monitoring Using a Micromechanical Electrometer

Gerardo Jaramillo

Environmental air quality is monitored by accurately sizing and quantifying nanometer-sized aerosol particles present in the atmosphere. One method of detection electrically charges the particles and then feeds a stream of charged particles into a Faraday cup electrometer. We present the first results of a MEMS based electrometer for the detection of small currents from ionized particles in a particle detection system.

Project end date: 08/12/13