The mechanical machining of silicon based on IC-technologies is known as micromachining, and the systems made by micromachining are called MEMS microelectromechanical systems.
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The present book describes how to use this technology to fabricate sensors of miniature size for mechanical quantities, such as pressure, force, flow and acceleration. The book includes a chapter with a comprehensive description of the relevant micromachining processes, and an introduction to MEMS, a field much broader than just microsensors. Most of these sensors rely on a deformation of the mechanical construction by an external load, and on a transduction mechanism to convert the deformation into a mechanical signal. The fundamental mechanics and electromechanics required for the understanding and the design of mechanical microsensors are described on a level accessible to engineers of all disciplines.
Students in engineering sciences from the third year on should be able to benefit from this description. The most important mechanical sensors are described and discussed in detail with respect to fabrication issues, function and performance. Special emphasis is given to pressure sensors, force sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes and flow sensors.
Electronic interfacing, and a discussion of electronic circuits used for the sensors is also included. Finally the problem of packaging is addressed. This book on mechanical microsensors is based on a course organized by the Swiss Foundation for Research in Microtechnology FSRM in Neuchatel, Swit- zerland, and developed and taught by the authors.
Support by FSRM is herewith gratefully acknowledged.
This book attempts to serve two purposes. First it gives an overview on me- chanical microsensors sensors for pressure, force, acceleration, angular rate and fluid flow, realized by silicon micromachining. Second, it serves as a textbook for engineers to give them a comprehensive introduction on the basic design issues of these sensors.
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Engineers active in sensor design are usually educated either in electrical engineering or mechanical engineering. These classical educa- tional pro grams do not prepare the engineer for the challenging task of sensor design since sensors are instruments typically bridging the disciplines: one needs a rather deep understanding of both mechanics and electronics.
Accordingly, the book contains discussion of the basic engineering sciences relevant to mechanical sensors, hopefully in a way that it is accessible for all colours of engineers. While more complex levels of integration are the future trend of MEMS technology, the present state-of-the-art is more modest and usually involves a single discrete microsensor, a single discrete microactuator, a single microsensor integrated with electronics, a multiplicity of essentially identical microsensors integrated with electronics, a single microactuator integrated with electronics, or a multiplicity of essentially identical microactuators integrated with electronics.
Nevertheless, as MEMS fabrication methods advance, the promise is an enormous design freedom wherein any type of microsensor and any type of microactuator can be merged with microelectronics as well as photonics, nanotechnology, etc.
- Mechanical Microsensors eBook!
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A surface micromachined resonator fabricated by the MNX. This device can be used as both a microsensor as well as a microactuator.
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This vision of MEMS whereby microsensors, microactuators and microelectronics and other technologies, can be integrated onto a single microchip is expected to be one of the most important technological breakthroughs of the future. This will enable the development of smart products by augmenting the computational ability of microelectronics with the perception and control capabilities of microsensors and microactuators.
Microelectronic integrated circuits can be thought of as the "brains" of a system and MEMS augments this decision-making capability with "eyes" and "arms", to allow microsystems to sense and control the environment. Sensors gather information from the environment through measuring mechanical, thermal, biological, chemical, optical, and magnetic phenomena.
The electronics then process the information derived from the sensors and through some decision making capability direct the actuators to respond by moving, positioning, regulating, pumping, and filtering, thereby controlling the environment for some desired outcome or purpose. Furthermore, because MEMS devices are manufactured using batch fabrication techniques, similar to ICs, unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability, and sophistication can be placed on a small silicon chip at a relatively low cost. MEMS technology is extremely diverse and fertile, both in its expected application areas, as well as in how the devices are designed and manufactured.
Already, MEMS is revolutionizing many product categories by enabling complete systems-on-a-chip to be realized. Nanotechnology is the ability to manipulate matter at the atomic or molecular level to make something useful at the nano-dimensional scale.
Basically, there are two approaches in implementation: the top-down and the bottom-up. In the top-down approach, devices and structures are made using many of the same techniques as used in MEMS except they are made smaller in size, usually by employing more advanced photolithography and etching methods. The bottom-up approach typically involves deposition, growing, or self-assembly technologies. The advantages of nano-dimensional devices over MEMS involve benefits mostly derived from the scaling laws, which can also present some challenges as well. An array of sub-micron posts made using top-down nanotechnology fabrication methods.
Mechanical Microsensors eBook
Some experts believe that nanotechnology promises to: a. A colorized image of a scanning-tunneling microscope image of a surface, which is a common imaging technique used in nanotechnology. Although MEMS and Nanotechnology are sometimes cited as separate and distinct technologies, in reality the distinction between the two is not so clear-cut. In fact, these two technologies are highly dependent on one another. The well-known scanning tunneling-tip microscope STM which is used to detect individual atoms and molecules on the nanometer scale is a MEMS device.
Similarly the atomic force microscope AFM which is used to manipulate the placement and position of individual atoms and molecules on the surface of a substrate is a MEMS device as well. In fact, a variety of MEMS technologies are required in order to interface with the nano-scale domain.
Likewise, many MEMS technologies are becoming dependent on nanotechnologies for successful new products. For example, the crash airbag accelerometers that are manufactured using MEMS technology can have their long-term reliability degraded due to dynamic in-use stiction effects between the proof mass and the substrate.