S Sam Baskar
Articles written in Sadhana
Volume 34 Issue 4 August 2009 pp 663-675
One of the critical issues in large scale commercial exploitation of MEMS technology is its system integration. In MEMS, a system design approach requires integration of varied and disparate subsystems with one of a kind interface. The physical scales as well as the magnitude of signals of various subsystems vary widely. Known and proven integration techniques often lead to considerable loss in advantages the tiny MEMS sensors have to offer. Therefore, it becomes imperative to think of the entire system at the outset, at least in terms of the concept design. Such design entails various aspects of the system ranging from selection of material, transduction mechanism, structural conﬁguration, interface electronics, and packaging. One way of handling this problem is the system-in-package approach that uses optimized technology for each function using the concurrent hybrid engineering approach. The main strength of this design approach is the fast time to prototype development. In the present work, we pursue this approach for a MEMS load cell to complete the process of system integration for high capacity load sensing. The system includes; a micromachined sensing gauge, interface electronics and a packaging module representing a system-in-package ready for end characterization. The various subsystems are presented in a modular stacked form using hybrid technologies. The micromachined sensing subsystem works on principles of piezo-resistive sensing and is fabricated using CMOS compatible processes. The structural conﬁguration of the sensing layer is designed to reduce the offset, temperature drift, and residual stress effects of the piezo-resistive sensor. ANSYS simulations are carried out to study the effect of substrate coupling on sensor structure and its sensitivity. The load cell system has built-in electronics for signal conditioning, processing, and communication, taking into consideration the issues associated with resolution of minimum detectable signal. The packaged system represents a compact and low cost solution for high capacity load sensing in the category of compressive type load sensor.