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MEMS Passive Latching Mechanical Shock Sensor

[+] Author Affiliations
Jonathan W. Wittwer, Michael S. Baker, David S. Epp, John A. Mitchell

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Paper No. DETC2008-49178, pp. 581-587; 7 pages
  • ASME 2008 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 20th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology; Second International Conference on Micro- and Nanosystems
  • Brooklyn, New York, USA, August 3–6, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division and Computers in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4328-4 | eISBN: 0-7918-3831-5
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


This paper presents a novel micro-scale passive-latching mechanical shock sensor with reset capability. The device integrates a compliant bistable mechanism, designed to have a high contact force and low actuation force, with metal-to-metal electrical contacts that provide a means for interrogating the switch state. No electrical power is required during storage or sensing. Electrical power is only required to initialize, reset, self-test, or interrogate the device, allowing the mechanism to be used in low-power and long shelf-life applications. The sensor has a footprint of about 1 mm2 , allowing multiple devices to be integrated on a single chip for arrays of acceleration thresholds, redundancy, and/or multiple sense directions. Modeling and experimental results for a few devices with different thresholds in the 100g to 400g range are given. Centrifuge test results show that the accelerations required to toggle the switches are higher than current model predictions. Resonant frequency measurements suggest that the springs may be stiffer than predicted. Hammer-strike tests demonstrate the feasibility of using the devices as sensors for actual mechanical shock events.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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