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A new tunneling-based sensor for inertial rotation rate measurements

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4 Author(s)
Kubena, R.L. ; HRL Labs. Inc., Malibu, CA, USA ; Vickers-Kirby, D.J. ; Joyce, R.J. ; Stratton, F.P.

Microelectromechanical (MEM) technology promises to significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost of a variety of sensor systems. For vehicular and tactical-grade inertial navigation systems, high-performance MEM gyroscopes are required with 1-100°/h resolution and stability. To date, this goal has proven difficult to achieve in manufacturing for many of the previous approaches using Coriolis-based devices due, in part, to the need to precisely tune the drive and sense resonant frequencies. We have designed, fabricated, and tested a new highly miniaturized tunneling-based sensor that employs the high displacement sensitivity of quantum tunneling to obtain the desired resolution without the need for precise mechanical frequency matching. Our first tested devices with 300-μm-long cantilevers have demonstrated 27°/h/√Hz noise floors. Measurements indicate that this number can be reduced to near the thermal noise floor of 3°/h/√Hz when a closed-loop servo, operating at the device's oscillation frequency, is implemented around the sensor

Published in:

Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 4 )