Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Three-Dimensional MEMS Sensors and Actuators and Microsystems

Technology #5563

Scientists at the University of Michigan have developed hair-like sensors targeted towards MEMS sensor, actuator, and microsystem applications. Through a combination of mechanical sensing, local chemo-electric transduction, and sophisticated signal processing, biological hair sensors provide unique capabilities such as sensitivity and response that are unmatched by other sensor structures.

Design Details The MEMS-based hair-like structures designed at the University of Michigan aim to duplicate the capabilities and characteristics of biological hair sensors. The structures are characterized by their height being larger than their footprint. Transducing elements and electronic circuits embedded in the structures, or the substrate, convert non-electrical parameters of interest into electrical signals, process and condition the transducer output signals, and, thereby, improve sensitivity and selectivity. The hair structures can have different shapes and cross-sections, and can be made of different materials for improved performance for a variety of applications. Arrays of these hair structures can be formed on the same substrate for fault tolerance, redundancy, and improved performance

Applications • Accelerometers • Flow sensors • Energy harvesters

Advantages • Increased sensitivity, range and responsiveness • High performance • Flexible design (materials and structure) allow targeting of multiple applications • Inherent fault tolerance and redundancy