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MEMS advances enable next-gen avionics systems

Posted: 09 Feb 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS  avionics  sensor  ADIS16485  Inertial Sensing 

Within the avionics industry and other equally demanding applications, traditional solutions based on prior-generation MEMS or other inertial technology have a proven track record of meeting performance objectives. On the other hand, those same technologies have failed to make significant generational advancements on cost and other economies. Newer generation avionics systems face increasing pressure to improve on these fronts, leaving equipment manufacturers with challenging development goals, without more optimised technology choices. A critical dilemma facing avionics equipment integrators today is to maintain performance, while also improving size, weight, power (SWAP)/Cost.

Surveying inertial MEMS components in production today across the entire electronics industry, there are three primary and distinct pedigrees of the technology. The solutions have originated from one of these main application focuses: Military, Automotive, or Consumer. Decades old military-origin technology is of course highly robust, but inflexible in SWAP and cost. Consumer-origin technology meets aggressive cost goals, but with notable and limiting trade-offs in Performance, and Ruggedness. On the other hand, technology originally targeted at the Automotive industry was specifically optimised to meet demanding goals on all key parameters; Performance, Ruggedness, Cost, Size, Weight, and Power. Just as significantly, there are notable differences in the Roadmap/Potential of each of these for further development (figure).

Figure: ADI MEMS Technology originally focused on Automotive Requirements is capable of roadmap advances in performance, while also improving SWAP/$.

Next-generation avionics platforms flow down the specification goals listed in table 1 to inertial sensing systems.

Table 1: Critical Avionics System Goals for Inertial Systems.

An essential element of ADI MEMS ability to meet these requirements is its Quad-Core Gyro Sensing structure. This structure serves to reject shock and vibration influences on the angular sensing mechanism, and has been used in avionics, automotive, medical, and smart munitions programs. The symmetry of the dual pair of anti-phase resonators provide a high level of common mode rejection for non-rotational inputs and the high resonator and demodulation frequency (approximately 18kHz) has been leveraged to offer superior rejection of out-of-band signals. Linear-acceleration/vibration analysis has been performed on the core sensor, including sweeps above its resonance frequency, demonstrating its ability to reject this influence.

Beyond its sensor core design, equally important is well matched and optimised sensor conditioning. Fundamentally, the sensor element is capturing a real-life motion (ie: structure rotation) and translating it to a measurable electronic signal (ie: voltage). This translation and subsequent processing could have opportunity for inaccuracies without proper attention to bandwidth, timing, phase, sampling rates, resolution, and other drift characteristics such as temperature and voltage stability. These all rely on advanced and robust sensor conditioning. Analog Devices has distinguished itself in the High Performance MEMS community by marrying its proprietary MEMS IP with its signal processing.

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