Many industrial, automotive, and oil exploration applications demand measuring pressures higher than 200 MPa (or 2000 atmospheres). Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) refer to devices realized using micro-fabrication technology - the same techniques used to make tiny but powerful integrated circuits. The aim of this project is to investigate the fabrication and characterization of a MEMS pressure sensor. Composed of both mechanical and electrical components but smaller than 2x2mm2, the former senses in real-time the pressure of the environment to which the sensor is exposed and the latter converts the pressure sensed to an electrical signal for further signal processing. The transduction mechanism is based on piezoresistivity, i.e. the change in the resistance of a material when subjected to mechanical stress. The sensor is capable of measuring at least 140 MPa, but the upper limit could be as high as 1 GPa! This capability is significantly beyond that of existing pressure sensors, MEMS or otherwise.
Participate in hands-on laboratory work in micro-fabrication and help characterize the performance of piezoresistive pressure sensors.
Acquire basic knowledge on micro-fabrication and electrical characterization techniques. Both sets of skills are generally applicable to other MEMS.