COSTA MESA, Calif. -- MicroSensors Inc. here has been awarded a U.S. patent for technology pertaining to its Silicon MicroRing Gyro, a microelectromechanical sensor.
Micro-gyros measure rotational velocity, which the automobile industry is considering for safety applications, as well as for backup to Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigational systems.
"Patenting this fundamental technology is a key milestone in our plan to serve the unmet demand for inexpensive, miniaturized inertial sensors," said John P. Murray, president and CEO of MSI, a subsidiary of Irvine Sensors Corp.
If micro-gyros can be fabricated at price points desired by the automobile industry, other applications could follow in hand-held consumer electronics and medical applications, he added.
Ying W. Hsu, MSI's senior vice president of engineering and the primary inventor of the Silicon MicroRing Gyro, said MSI's design is unique in that only five masks are required for micromachined fabrication--a fundamental advantage because it reduces manufacturing costs and improves yields.
"Fewer masks result in less tolerance accumulation and process sensitivity associated with designs using more," he added. "This simplicity was achieved, along with desirable performance characteristics, by physical decoupling of the readout and signal generation elements, greatly reducing internal interference in the micro-gyro's operation," Hsu said.
Prototypes of the Silicon MicroRing Gyro have been fabricated for MSI by Standard Microsystems Corp. of Hauppauge, N.Y., and by Robert Bosch GmbH of Stuttgart, Germany.
"When combined with the success that major manufacturers have had in fabricating our initial parts and our recent success in integrating these parts into functional demonstration units, we believe we are well on the road to meeting our objectives," said Murray. "We also believe we are now in position to deal with the 'show me' requests that potential strategic and licensing partners all raise."