This action is for a Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) to support the acquisition of a state-of-the-art MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensor system, and to integrate it into a real-time natural hazards monitoring system. MEMS is the integration of mechanical elements, sensors, actuators, and electronics on a common silicon substrate through the utilization of microfabrication technology. While the electronics are fabricated using integrated circuit (IC) process sequences, the micromechanical components are fabricated using compatible "micromachining" processes that selectively etch away parts of the silicon wafer or add new structural layers to form the mechanical and electromechanical devices.

The opportunity exists to buy into a prototype run of MEMS high fidelity digital accelerometers being developed by Integrated Micro Instruments Inc. (IMI), a small start-up company developing MEMS devices under research contracts with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)and AFOSR (Air Force Office of Scientific Research). This device provides an extremely linear, sensitive, and rugged 3-dimensional accelerometer in a single chip package. Since the output data stream is digitized inside the chip, there are no attendant signal processing issues or costs. Professors Steven Glaser and Nicholas Sitar have access to these chips in the prototype stage.

This project is exploring just one of many potential applications of MEMS-based sensors to research and practice in civil and mechanical engineering. It is a novel application to directly integrate the micromechanisms and electronics directly into the monitoring needs of civil and mechanical engineers. There is a special synergy since Professor Glaser is directly involved in the design and construction of the Macro-Mote being developed at the NSF-sponsored Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center (BSAC), and the Berkeley Wireless Research Center (BWRC).

Specifically, this project involves:The acquisition of 10 sensor devices left over from an AFOSR-sponsored research project; The acquisition of 50 improved DXL05HR devices from a fabrication run currently being sponsored by DARPA; Demonstrating a large-scale wireless MEMS dynamic monitoring system with dense instrumentation of large-scale test structures with 50 accelerometer devices.

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University of California Berkeley
United States
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