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A Low Cost Monolithic Accelerometer

S. J. Sherman, W.K. Tsang, T. A. Core, D.E. Quinn
Analog Devices Semiconductor
Wmington, MA 01887
1. INTRODUCTION gaps, 1.3um. between the outer plates and the common
center plate, and the low permittivity of dry nitrogen.
The ADXLSO is a complete scaled and temperature necessitate the paralleling of 42 unit cells to achieve 0.1 pf
compensatedsurface micro-machined accelerometer with an for each side of the differential capacitor. At that sensor
output voltage proportional to acceleration. Full scale source impedance level adequate signal-to-noise
measurement range is +50g, with unpowered shock performance is possible.
survival at 2000g. Ultimately, signal span accuracy of 5%
should be possible for a temperature range of -55°C to 4. SYSTEM BLOCK DIAGRAM AND
+125OC and a supply range of 5V kO.25V. Bandwidth up SENSITIVITY EQUATION
to 1.5KHz is programmable with a single external
capacitor. The sensor beam is electrostatically force-balanced so
A digitally activated self-test will elecuostaticnllydeflect that the inertial force, F~=ma,is primarily balanced by a
a functional beam so that a -5Og acceleration is indicated. net electrostatic force, FE, created by a change in the beam
An uncommitted amplifier, with rail-to-rail output range, voltage. As will be explained, this beam voltage change,
and a reference allow re-scaling and offsetting of the raw AVo, is linearly related to acceleration, a, with the
output signal (1.8V fl.OV at f50g). Capacitors can be sensitivity being
introduced in the gain network surrounding the
uncommitted amp so that 2 poles of low pass filtering are &= m
possible without the addition of offchip active circuitry.
The ADXL5O's objective specifications were crafted for a ~ A & V R (+~ l/r) (1)
crash detection in second generation automotive air bag
systems which rely on single point sensing and per model whae Q = capacitor gap m = beam m a s
programmable crash signature analysis for dramauc system AP = plate area T = loop gain
cost reduction. G, = permittivty of nitrogen
VR = In DC voltage difference between the
2. TECHNOLOGY BASE outer plates
The sensor's low cost objective, ultimately S5 in Figure 2. is a simplified system diagram representing the
automotive volumes, dictates a technology base that essential elements in a forced-balanced scheme.
includes, Complementary lMHz square waves, centered around VR
1. a monolithic approach. with integrated sensor and and -VR are applied to the outer plates of the sensor. The
BiMOS inteaface circuitry low input capacitance buffer is to prevent loading of the
2. small chip size, 120x120 mil2 sensor. The synchronous demodulatord e w & and amplifies
3. utilization of familiar materials and production the lMHz beam node signal proportional to beam
proCeSSeS deflection. The low pass filter removes 2MHz spiking, a
4. the simplest possible mechanical structure. a single result of the demodulation process, and sets a dominant
layer of self-supportingpatterned polysilicon above loop pole for overall frequepcy compensation.
the subsaate surface Two concurrent processes exist at the beam node;
5. standardpackaging 1. position sensing, at 1MHz. For a uanslating center
6. exploitation of established technique, laser wafer plate and fixed outer plates, an ideal parallel plate treatment
rimmed (LWT) thin film resistors, for achieving reveals that output per unit deflection is f m t order linear,
performance objectives i.e.

Figure 1. is a depiction of the sensor's essential functional where Vp is peak carrier amplitude and x is deflection b m
elements, which are formed from a single layer of patterned
polysilicon @rocesscd on a h y a of sacrificialoxide 1.6 um ater,
thick). The elements stand on the subsaate at "anchor" 2. force projection on the beam,accomplishedby a non-
points, a result of pre-patterned holes in the sacrificial zero value of Vo applied to the beam through the 3 meg-
oxide. The sensor. a differential capacitor, exists in a ohm resistor (R). The large value of resistance prevents
"moat" area,roughly 6OOum x 400um. with the lMHz signal, sourced by only the 0.2pf. from being
intemnnections from the beam elements to points external reduced through loading.
to the moat accomplished by N+ emitter diffusions. The lMHz beam node signal is a classical error signal
The large (by IC standards) nominal lateral capacitor which is driven to zero by the global negative feedback

34 1992Symposium on VLSl Circuits Digest of Technical Papers 92CH3173-U9UW0034$3.00@1992IEEE

Authorized licensed use limited to: National Science Council. Downloaded on July 6, 2009 at 22:40 from IEEE Xplore. Restrictions apply.
loop, ivhich adjusrs Lro to create the net elecuosuuc force are set with 200K resistors. The pre-amp IS a low accuracy
balancmg the inerual force, with equilibnum at I = 0. For space etficient insuumencation amplifier. The self-test
a two parallel plates, the attractive electrostauc force is current, I,,, is routed into RST . In the absence of
accelerauon the loop output V, wiil adjust so the beam
F = E, ApV2/?_d2 (3 node is at 1.W. FE = 0, and x = 0. At that condmon
For the beam, the net force is the sum of attractive forces
10 each of the outer plates,
Loop gain is trimmed at R p l . X wafer level full scale
FE = 2Ap€ovRvd&2 (3) acceleration mm technique under development leads to a
calculated change in beam voltage required to force balance
if the outer plates are biased at VR and - L'R, the center 50g full scale acceleration. With this calculated value, RP2
phte (beam')& biased at V,, and the beam remains centered, can be trimmed so that a 1V change is observed at V, for a
X = 0. Then 5Og input.


Typical measured performance for the ADXLSO,observed

at the pre-amp output,follows. (Full scale output, F.S.O.,
Variables appearing in equation (5) are temperature stable is defined as 1OOg. or +50g, with a corresponding 2V
in a 5% accuracy context. (V, is slaved from a 10ppm/"C change.)
For finite loop gain. T, the sensitivity takes the form of sensitivity dnft, 3.0% -55>T>125oC
equation (l), with a 1 + 1 nterm in the denominator. The sensitivity PSRR, 60dB 4.15>Vs>5.25V
DC loop gain, To, is, in fact, trimmed 10 a value of 10. zero - g drift, lOOmV -55>T>125"C
yielding a predictable bandwidth and adequate temperature zero - g PSRR, 48dB 4.75>Vp5.3V
desensitization of factors in the expression for To, such as noise. p-p, 1% F.S.O. BW = lKHz
carrier amplitude. transverse sensitivity, 2%
Figure 3, is a more detailed blcck diagram representative shock sunival
of the chip organization. 2000g. 100pec
The carrier generator, a resistively loaded differential pair >16OOg, 500psec (equipment limited)
of bipolars, provides complemenraxy lMHz square waves
which are AC coupled through 5Opf capacitors to the Photo 1 is a comparison of outputs from a shaker
inputs of the sensor. E€ plate voltages (3.4V and 0.2V) reference accelerometer (top) and the ADXLSO (bottom) for
20g, 100Hz excitation.


14 rn +



1992 Symposium on VLSl Circuits Digest of Technical Papers 0 35

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