Gary Fedder: Sensors & Actuators for Integrated Circuit Chips

Gary Fedder: Sensors & Actuators for Integrated Circuit Chips


My name’s Gary Fedder. I’m in the department of Electrical and Computer
Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. I also have a joint appointment within the
Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon. My research is in microelectromechanical systems. It’s called MEMS for short. And it’s about making tiny sensors and actuators
on integrated circuit chips. It’s also about designing those types of sensors
and actuators. Probably the area that most people think of
first is in cell phones. There’s a lot of interest in putting more
sensors into those types of handheld systems and making them run at lower power. One of the most important examples that consumers
see are, for example, accelerometers, and to some extent gyroscopes inside of these
cell phones where if you tilt the phone, your image will tilt with that. That’s all MEMS type of technology. A gyroscope is a sensor that detects rotation
and orientation. One of the uses for these types of devices
is for control of micro air vehicles, which are commonly called drones now. This type of device is needed in order to
make sure the vehicle can stay stable in the air. And we take that kind of performance now for
granted. If you buy a hobby aircraft, it just works. Well that’s because of these types of sensors. In our project, we’re looking at pulling that
performance to the next level, where we can start to look at personal navigation, where
let’s say you don’t have a GPS type of tracking system on you or you’re in an environment
where you might not be able to get that kind of service. With the proper type of inertial sensors,
one could walk for hours and know where one is within a few feet. To get that kinda performance, what we’re
looking at is some of the external influences to the gyroscope operation, where having external
stresses on the device, either due to temperature or because materials are aging with time,
or things are changing within the system that it’s in, that changes the operation of the
of the gyroscope. We’re looking at instrumenting onto the gyroscope
chip. So think of it as we’re putting extra sensors
on the sensor to be able to detect those types of influences, and then compensate for them
to make an even better device performance, so that we can achieve these kind of personal
navigation applications.

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