Patent Number: 6,170,332

Title: Micromechanical accelerometer for automotive applications

Abstract: A micromechanical capacitive accelerometer is provided from a single silicon wafer. The basic structure of the micromechanical accelerometer is etched in the wafer to form a released portion in the substrate, and the released and remaining portions of the substrate are coated with metal under conditions sufficient to form a micromechanical capacitive accelerometer. The substrate is preferably etched using reactive-ion etching for at least the first etch step in the process that forms the basic structure, although in another preferred embodiment, all etching is reactive-ion etching. The accelerometer also may comprise a signal-conditioned accelerometer wherein signal-conditioning circuitry is provided on the same wafer from which the accelerometer is formed, and VLSI electronics may be integrated on the same wafer from which the accelerometer is formed. The micromechanical capacitive accelerometer can be used for airbag deployment, active suspension control, active steering control, anti-lock braking, and other control systems requiring accelerometers having high sensitivity, extreme accuracy and resistance to out of plane forces.

Inventors: MacDonald; Noel C. (Santa Barbara, CA), Shaw; Kevin A. (Ithaca, NY), Adams; Scott G. (Ithaca, NY)

Assignee: Cornell Research Foundation, Inc.

International Classification: B81B 3/00 (20060101); B81C 1/00 (20060101); G01P 1/00 (20060101); G01P 15/13 (20060101); G01P 15/125 (20060101); G01P 15/08 (20060101); G01P 015/08 ()

Expiration Date: 01/09/2018