Miniature high-resolution accelerometer utilizing electron tunneling

Howard K. Rockstad, T. W. Kenny, J. K. Reynolds, W. J. Kaiser, T. R. VanZandt, Thomas B. Gabrielson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


New methods have been developed to implement high-resolution position sensors based on electron tunneling. These methods allow miniaturization while utilizing the position sensitivity of electron tunneling to give high resolution. A single-element tunneling accelerometer giving a displacement resolution of 2×10-3 angstroms/√Hz at 10 Hz, corresponding to an acceleration resolution of 5×10-8 g/√Hz, is described. A new dual-element tunneling structure which overcomes the narrow bandwidth limitations of a single-element structure is described. A sensor with an operating range of 5 Hz to 10 kHz, which can have applications as an acoustic sensor, is discussed. Noise is analyzed for fundamental thermal vibration of the suspended masses and is compared to electronic noise. It is shown that miniature tunnel accelerometers can achieve resolution such that thermal noise in the suspended masses is the dominant cause of the resolution limit. With a proof mass of order 100 mg, noise analysis predicts limiting resolutions approaching 10-9 g/√Hz in a 300 Hz band and 10-8 g/√Hz at 1 kHz.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicromechanical Systems
PublisherPubl by ASME
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)0791810992
StatePublished - 1992
EventWinter Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers - Anaheim, CA, USA
Duration: Nov 8 1992Nov 13 1992

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Dynamic Systems and Control Division (Publication) DSC


OtherWinter Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
CityAnaheim, CA, USA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Mechanical Engineering


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