Acceleration Sensor in Surface Micromachining for Airbag Applications with High Signal/Noise Ratio
Employing novel surface micromachining techniques, a highly miniaturized, robust device has been fabricated. The accelerometer fulfills all requirements of state-of-the-art airbag systems. The present paper reports on the manufacturing and assembly process as well as the performance of the sensor. The capacitive sensing element consists of a moveable proof mass of polysilicon on a single crystalline silicon substrate. A lateral acceleration displaces the proof mass and a capacitive signal is generated at a comb electrode configuration. An external IC circuit provides the signal evaluation and conditioning in a closed loop mode, resulting in low temperature dependency of sensor characteristics and a wide frequency response. The sensor is fabricated by standard IC processing steps combined with additional surface micromachining techniques. A special deposition process in an epitaxial reactor allows the fabrication of moveable masses of more than 10 µm thickness.