Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Mold for Making Highly Symmetric Three Dimensional Microstructures

Technology #7175

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Cross-sectional SEM of a microstructure shell produced in a reflow molding process. This structure is suitable for use as a resonator in a vibratory gyroscope.
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Researchers
Jae Yoong Cho
Managed By
Joohee Kim
Licensing Specialist, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734.764.8202
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

This technology offers improvements to the creation of axisymmetric microstructures that are well-suited for use as a resonator in vibratory gyroscopes. Gyroscopes measure angular motion and they are a vital component in internal measurement units, which monitor and guide the motion of aircrafts and unmanned vehicles. Miniaturization of devices and the use of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, are expected to drive future growth of the inertial measurement unit and motion sensor markets. Inertial measurements are being used for new applications beyond aerospace or defense due to the shrinking of gyroscopes and their reductions in production cost. They are now being incorporated into consumer electronics and autonomous vehicles.

Creating highly symmetric microstructures with blowtorch molding

A recent breakthrough in the blowtorch molding process is able to significantly improve the mechanical symmetry of the molded microstructure. An adjustment to the molding apparatus is able to create a highly uniform temperature profile in the molded substrate, which results in the highly symmetrical final product. The process has been extensively tested on materials such as fused silica, sapphire, and metals, yielding final products with extremely low surface roughness and high quality factors. In addition, the process is highly scalable because it is possible to create a single mold containing many sub molds such that a single heating cycle can produce many equivalent microstructures.

Applications

  • Ultra high symmetry and high quality factor microstructures
  • Vibratory resonator gyroscopes
  • Optical resonators

Advantages

  • Enables high quality microstructures at low cost
  • Suitable for incorporating into MEMS technology
  • Simple fabrication setup
  • High process speeds
  • Low surface roughness (< 5Å)