Skip to Main Content
A micromachined accelerometer device structure with diffraction-based optical detection and integrated electrostatic actuation is introduced. The sensor consists of a bulk silicon proof mass electrode that moves vertically with respect to a rigid diffraction grating backplate electrode to provide interferometric detection resolution of the proof-mass displacement when illuminated with coherent light. The sensor architecture includes a monolithically integrated electrostatic actuation port that enables the application of precisely controlled broadband forces to the proof mass while the displacement is simultaneously and independently measured optically. This enables several useful features such as dynamic self-characterization and a variety of force-feedback modalities, including alteration of device dynamics in situ. These features are experimentally demonstrated with sensors that have been optoelectronically integrated into sub-cubic-millimeter volumes using an entirely surface-normal, rigid, and robust embodiment incorporating vertical cavity surface emitting lasers and integrated photodetector arrays. In addition to small form factor and high acceleration resolution, the ability to self-characterize and alter device dynamics in situ may be advantageous. This allows periodic calibration and in situ matching of sensor dynamics among an array of accelerometers or seismometers configured in a network.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2008