Adaptively controlled MEMS triaxial angular rate sensor

John, J 2006, Adaptively controlled MEMS triaxial angular rate sensor, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Electrical and Computer Engineering, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Adaptively controlled MEMS triaxial angular rate sensor
Author(s) John, J
Year 2006
Abstract Prohibitive cost and large size of conventional angular rate sensors have limited their use to large scale aeronautical applications. However, the emergence of MEMS technology in the last two decades has enabled angular rate sensors to be fabricated that are orders of magnitude smaller in size and in cost. The reduction in size and cost has subsequently encouraged new applications to emerge, but the accuracy and resolution of MEMS angular rate sensors will have to be greatly improved before they can be successfully utilised for such high end applications as inertial navigation.

MEMS angular rate sensors consist of a vibratory structure with two main resonant modes and high Q factors. By means of an external excitation, the device is driven into a constant amplitude sinusoidal vibration in the first mode, normally at resonance. When the device is subject to an angular rate input, Coriolis acceleration causes a transfer of energy between the two modes and results in a sinusoidal motion in the second mode, whose amplitude is a measure of the input angular rate. Ideally the only coupling between the two modes is the Coriolis acceleration, however fabrication imperfections always result in some cross stiffness and cross damping effects between the two modes. Much of the previous research work has focussed on improving the physical structure through advanced fabrication techniques and structural design; however attention has been directed in recent years to the use of control strategies to compensate for these structural imperfections. The performance of the MEMS angular rate sensors is also hindered by the effects of time varying parameter values as well as noise sources such as thermal-mechanical noise and sensing circuitry noise.

In this thesis, MEMS angular rate sensing literature is first reviewed to show the evolu- tion of MEMS angular rate sensing from the basic principles of open-loop operation to the use of complex control strategies designed to compensate for any fabrication imperfections and time-varying effects. Building on existing knowledge, a novel adaptively controlled MEMS triaxial angular rate sensor that uses a single vibrating mass is then presented. Ability to sense all three components of the angular rate vector with a single vibrating mass has advantages such as less energy usage, smaller wafer footprint, avoidance of any mechanical interference between multiple resonating masses and removal of the need for precise alignment of three separate devices.

The adaptive controller makes real-time estimates of the triaxial angular rates as well as the device cross stiffness and cross damping terms. These estimates are then used to com- pensate for their effects on the vibrating mass, resulting in the mass being controlled to follow a predefined reference model trajectory. The estimates are updated using the error between the reference model trajectory and the mass's real trajectory. The reference model trajectory is designed to provide excitation to the system that is sufficiently rich to enable all parameter estimates to converge to their true values. Avenues for controller simplification and optimisation are investigated through system simulations.

The triaxial controller is analysed for stability, averaged convergence rate and resolution. The convergence rate analysis is further utilised to determine the ideal adaptation gains for the system that minimises the unwanted oscillatory behaviour of the parameter estimates. A physical structure for the triaxial device along with the sensing and actuation means is synthesised. The device is realisable using MEMS fabrication techniques due to its planar nature and the use of conventional MEMS sensing and actuation elements. Independent actuation and sensing is achieved using a novel checkerboard electrode arrangement. The physical structure is refined using a design automation process which utilises finite element analysis (FEA) and design optimisation tools that adjust the design variables until suitable design requirements are met. Finally, processing steps are outlined for the fabrication of the device using a modified, commercially available polysilicon MEMS process.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Electrical and Computer Engineering
Keyword(s) Aeronautical instruments
Space vehicles -- Guidance systems
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