ASA 128th Meeting - Austin, Texas - 1994 Nov 28 .. Dec 02

4pEA5. A miniature, high-sensitivity, electron-tunneling accelerometer.

Thomas B. Gabrielson

NAWC Aircraft Div., Code 5044, Warminster, PA 18974-0591

Howard K. Rockstad

Tony K. Tang

Ctr. for Space Microelectron. Technol., Pasadena, CA 91109-8099

A prototype low-noise accelerometer has been fabricated with an electron-tunneling transducer. By measuring the tunneling current between an electrode on the proof mass and a feedback-controlled monitor electrode, very small accelerations can be detected with high responsivity. This particular prototype (10x10x1.5 mm) was designed for underwater acoustic measurement from a few hertz to 1 kHz. The measured responsivity below the fundamental device resonance at 100 Hz is roughly 1500 V per m/s[sup 2] with a measured noise spectral density of 10[sup -6] m/s[sup 2] per root hertz or less between 30 and 300 Hz. The noise floor is controlled primarily by 1/f noise in the tunneling current although the noise floor reaches the theoretical molecular-agitation limit at 100 Hz. The responsivity and directivity of the device were measured in a standard gradient-hydrophone calibrator; the noise floor was determined in a vacuum-isolation chamber assembled from commercial off-the-shelf components; and the detailed dynamics of the proof-mass motion were examined using a heterodyne laser interferometer that was scanned across the surface and synchronously detected with respect to the excitation. [Work supported by ONR.]