STTR PHASE I: Application of an Electrostatic Actuator Stable-Range-of-Motion Enhancement Control Law to Improve MEMS Gyroscopic Sensors

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

2693D Commerce Rd.
Rapid City, SD 57702
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Auburn University
310 Samford Hall
Auburn, AL 36849
Institution POC


This STTR Phase I research project will seek to significantly reduce the size and cost of MEMS gyroscopes through improving the internal electrostatic actuators. Specifically, this effort will commercialize Auburn University's patent protected technique for extending the stable range of motion of micromachined gap-closing actuators, so that the actuator size can be reduced while still producing the same range of motion. This technique not only increases the actuator's stable range of motion, it also allows for a denser architecture, further reducing actuator size. Auburn University will utilize its expertise and facilities to characterize and optimize the proposed technique. The scientific merit of this effort also includes the development of a sensorless technique for increasing the stable range of motion of micromachined electrostatic parallel plate and gap-closing actuators that can be applied to many types of MEMS devices in addition to gyroscopes. A limitation of many types of MEMS devices has been the limited stable range of motion of micromachined electrostatic parallel plate and gap-closing actuators, with applications such as variable capacitors, micro mirror based spatial light modulators and precision inertial sensors that utilize actuators. Most techniques developed to alleviate this problem either involve expensive changes to the physical design or complex motion sensor based controller approaches. This research can lead to new MEMS products, the application of existing MEMS products to new applications, and an enhanced understanding of the capabilities