The Smart Microsensor and Microsystems group
was recently born, in 2007, to exploit the traditional experience of some researchers of the “Radiation Detector” group in the new exciting field of smart sensors for non-ionizing radiation (e.g. light from UV to IR) and for other physical quantities like magnetic fields and inertial parameters (e.g. acceleration, rotation speed, …).
In this very short period, the researchers of the group reached a good level of scientific creativity, as confirmed by at least 22 specific publications in international reviews and 12 communications at international conferences) but also by the participation, with an important role as designers of new nano-structured MEMS, in the EU Project NIRVANA and of advanced magnetometers in the EU Project Lab4MEMS.
Among the research achievements we indicate the following:
- Miniaturized accelerometers for inertial measurement units and related readout electronics
In the framework of two Cariplo projects and several industrial collaborations with ST Microelectronics we have studied basic material properties (e.g. fatigue, surface adhesion phenomena, nonlinearity problems) at the micro-scale in structural materials used for the implementation of microelectromechanical systems. The results have been exploited for the design of innovative resonant and capacitive MEMS inertial sensors, typically subject to a large number of cycles during their life.
- Development of CMOS image detector with tunable spectral responses
We have invented, designed and successfully tested a novel smart color-sensitive CMOS pixel with electrically reconfigurable spectral responses. During the development we have investigated and solved problems at the device level, demonstrated the device operation and proposed new functionalities like adaptation of the sensor to the scene, multi-spectral image capture and joint acquisition of visible and near infrared radiation.
- Development of advanced miniaturized gyroscopes based on nano-structured functional elements embedded in micro-structured devices (N/MEMS)
In the frame of an international EU project (NIRVANA) this research group has in charge the design of advanced miniaturized gyroscopes in which the readout of the Coriolis force is based on the piezo-resistive properties of nano-structured functional elements. The first prototypes have been produced (at CEA-LETI Grenoble) and have been tested by the group with very satisfactory results.
- Development of driving and readout electronics for MEMS/NEMS
The design of MEMS/NEMS sensors is strictly related to the design of their driving and readout electronics. The research group covers both capabilities. Several ASICs have been developed as well as electronic instrumentation for test purposes. In particular a versatile platform for the complete characterization of Micro and Nano electromechanical systems has proven to be of relevant industrial interest.