Feedback control of MEMS devices has the potential to significantly improve device performance and reliability. One of the main obstacles to its broader use is the small number of on-chip sensing options available to MEMS designers. A method of using integrated piezoresistive sensing is proposed and demonstrated as another option. Integrated piezoresistive sensing utilizes the inherent piezoresistive property of polycrystalline silicon from which many MEMS devices are fabricated. As compliant MEMS structures flex to perform their functions, their resistance changes. That resistance change can be used to transduce the structures' deflection into an electrical signal. This dissertation addresses three topics associated with integrated piezoresistive sensing: developing an empirical model describing the piezoresistive response of polycrystalline-silicon flexures, designing compliant MEMS with integrated piezoresistive sensing using the model, and implementing feedback control using integrated piezoresistive sensing. Integrated piezoresistive sensing is an effective way to produce small, reliable, accurate, and economical on-chip sensors to monitor compliant MEMS devices. A piezoresistive flexure model is presented that accurately models the piezoresistive response of long, thin flexures even under complex loading conditions. The model facilitates the design of compliant piezoresistive MEMS devices, which output an electrical signal that directly relates to the device's motion. The piezoresistive flexure model is used to design a self-sensing long displacement MEMS device. Motion is achieved through contact-aided compliant rolling elements that connect the output shaft to kinematic ground. Self-sensing is achieved though integrated piezoresistive sensing. An example device is tested that demonstrates 700 micrometers of displacement with a sensing resolution of 2 micrometers. The piezoresistive microdisplacement transducer (PMT) is a structure that uses integrated piezoresistive sensing to monitor the output displacement of a thermomechanical inplane microacutator (TIM). Using the PMT as a feedback sensor for closed-loop control of the TIM reduced the system's response time from 500~$mu$s to 190~$mu$s, while maintaining a positioning accuracy of $pm$29~nm. Feedback control of the TIM also increased its robustness and reliability by allowing the system to maintain its performance after it had been significantly damaged.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





MEMS, compliant mechanisms, feedback control, piezoresistivity, sensors, thermal actuators, long displacement, self sensing