Precision in harsh environments

P. French, G. Krijnen, F. Roozeboom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)
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Microsystems are increasingly being applied in harsh and/or inaccessible environments, but many markets expect the same level of functionality for long periods of time. Harsh environments cover areas that can be subjected to high temperature, (bio)-chemical and mechanical disturbances, electromagnetic noise, radiation, or high vacuum. In the field of actuators, the devices must maintain stringent accuracy specifications for displacement, force, and response times, among others. These new requirements present additional challenges in the compensation for or elimination of cross-sensitivities. Many state-of-the-art precision devices lose their precision and reliability when exposed to harsh environments. It is also important that advanced sensor and actuator systems maintain maximum autonomy such that the devices can operate independently with low maintenance. The next-generation microsystems will be deployed in remote and/or inaccessible and harsh environments that present many challenges to sensor design, materials, device functionality, and packaging. All of these aspects of integrated sensors and actuator microsystems require a multidisciplinary approach to overcome these challenges. The main areas of importance are in the fields of materials science, micro/nano-fabrication technology, device design, circuitry and systems, (first-level) packaging, and measurement strategy. This study examines the challenges presented by harsh environments and investigates the required approaches. Examples of successful devices are also given.

Subject terms:
Electrical and electronic engineering •
Materials science

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Abstract •
Introduction •
Processing and materials •
Harsh environments •
Testing and reliability •
Conclusions •
References •
Acknowledgements •
Author information

The earliest known weights and measures systems date to approximately the 4th or 3rd millennium BC and was developed among the ancient peoples of Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and perhaps Elam (Iran). Over the centuries, different weights and measures systems have emerged. Sensors were designed that could use these systems to measure and define a wide range of parameters. With the industrial revolution, the need for measurements increased greatly, and measurement devices were increasingly used in harsh environments. In the early days, sensors were quite simple and relied on the operator to control the machinery. With the advent of automation, it became increasingly necessary to use sophisticated sensors as components of a control system. These sensors were designed to simply control the machinery. In the automotive industry, this approach was used to improve performance. In recent years, an increasing need has arisen for sensors for environmental control, for example, regulation of the exhaust from automobiles or from the process industry. The source of the harshness might not always be the measurand itself, for example, in the case of measuring pressure at high temperature.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16048
JournalMicrosystems & Nanoengineering
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2016


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