Experimental evaluation of MEMS strain sensors embedded in composites

Charles Hautamaki, Shayne Zurn, Susan C. Mantell, Dennis L. Polla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

56 Scopus citations


Micromechanical in plane strain sensors were fabricated and embedded in fiber-reinforced laminated composite plates. Three different strain sensor designs were evaluated: a piezoresistive filament fabricated directly on the wafer; a rectangular cantilever beam; and a curved cantilever beam. The cantilever beam designs were off surface structures, attached to the wafer at the root of the beam. The composite plate with embedded sensor was loaded in uniaxial tension and bending. Sensor designs were compared for repeatability, sensitivity and reliability. The effects of wafer geometry and composite plate stiffness were also studied. Typical sensor sensitivity to a uniaxial tensile strain of 0.001 (1000 με) ranged from 1.2 to 1.5% of the nominal resistance (dR/R). All sensors responded repeatably to uniaxial tension loading. However, for compressive bending loads imposed on a 2-3-mm-thick composite plate, sensor response varied significantly for all sensor designs. This additional sensitivity can be attributed to local buckling and subsequent out of plane motion in compressive loading. The curved cantilever design, constructed with a hoop geometry, showed the least variation in response to compressive bending loads. All devices survived and yielded repeatable responses to uniaxial tension loads applied over 10 000 cycles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999

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