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Thermal Gyroscope

Study of Various MEMS Gyroscopes design, there

advantages and Simulation of Thermal Gyroscope

Nemish Kanwar


Akershit Agarwal


Varun Prabodh Sharma


Submitted to
Dr N N Sharma


Table of Contents





MEMS Gyroscopes


About Various MEMS Gyroscope Designs














10. COMSOL Simulation Result


11. Results


12. Conclusion


13. References


Gyroscopes are attracting a lot of research these days, and MEMS gyroscopes are expected to
make a huge impact on the market in the near future. They have found automotive applications
such as vehicle stability control, navigation assist, and roll-over detection in high-end cars,
where cost is not a major factor. Examples of consumer applications are 3D input devices,
robotics, platform stability, camcorder stabilization, virtual reality, and more. With cost
prohibitive existing designs, new models must be studied.
This report is intended to study various existing MEMS gyroscope designs, and to propose a
modified design simulation of the thermal gyroscope. COMSOL has been used to create the
simplified model and to simulate the effects of angular rate on the pressure difference. Hence,
the devices sensitivity and applicability have been obtained. The study is not expected to be
conclusive, since it is only for a particular design based on thermal principles, and further
research is recommended.

A Brief History of Gyroscope

In order to discuss MEMS gyroscopes we must first understand gyroscopes in general and what
role they play in science. Technically, a gyroscope is any device that can measure angular
velocity. As early as the 1700s, spinning devices were being used for sea navigation in foggy
conditions. The more traditional spinning gyroscope was invented in the early 1800s, and the
French scientist Jean Bernard Leon Foucault coined the term gyroscope in 1852. In the late
1800s and early 1900s gyroscopes were patented for use on ships. Around 1916, the gyroscope
found use in aircraft where it is still commonly used today. Throughout the 20th century
improvements were made on the spinning gyroscope. In the 1960s, optical gyroscopes using
lasers were first introduced and soon found commercial success in aeronautics and military
applications. In the last ten to fifteen years, MEMS gyroscopes have been introduced and
advancements have been made to create mass-produced successful products with several
advantages over traditional macro-scale devices.

Traditional Gyroscopes
Usually, when one talks about gyroscopes, most people think of heavy spinning disks, tops or bicycle
wheels. However, a number of devices are based on the gyroscopes principle that look nothing like the
mechanical gyroscope.
Gyroscopes function differently depending on their type. Traditional spinning gyroscopes work on the
basis that a spinning object that is tilted perpendicularly to the direction of the spin will have a
precession. The precession keeps the device oriented in a vertical direction so the angle relative to the
reference surface can be measured.

Optical gyroscopes are most commonly ring laser gyroscopes. These devices send two lasers around a
circular path in opposite directions. If the path spins, a phase shift can be detected since the speed of
light always remain constant. Usually the rings are triangles or rectangles with mirrors at each corner.
Optical gyroscopes are a great improvement to the spinning mass gyroscopes because there is no wear,
greater reliability and smaller size and weight.

MEMS Gyroscopes
Even after the introduction of laser ring gyroscopes, a lot of properties were desired. MEMS
vibrating mass gyroscopes aimed to create smaller, more sensitive devices. Many types of
MEMS gyroscopes have appeared in the literature, with most falling into the categories of
tuning-fork gyros, oscillating wheels, Foucault pendulums, and wine glass resonators.
Conventional (non-MEMS) spinning wheel gyros are common, but levitation and rotation of a
MEMS device with no springs has not yet been commercialized.

About Various MEMS Gyroscope Designs

1. Tuning Fork Gyroscopes
Tuning fork gyros contain a pair of masses that are driven to oscillate with equal amplitude but
in opposite directions. When rotated, the Coriolis force creates an orthogonal vibration that can
be sensed by a variety of mechanisms. The Draper Lab gyro uses comb-type structures to drive
the tuning fork into resonance.

The first working prototype of the Draper Lab comb drive tuning fork gyro is shown here in an
SEM image. Due to the superior mechanical properties of single-crystal silicon, a much better
performance was achieved using single-crystal silicon with the dissolved wafer process.
Rotation causes the proof masses to vibrate out of plane, and this motion is sensed capacitively
with a custom CMOS ASIC. The technology has been licensed to Rockwell, Boeing, Honeywell,
and others.
The resonant modes of a MEMS inertial sensor are extremely important. In a gyro, there is
typically a vibration mode that is driven and a second mode for output sensing. In some cases,
the input and output modes are degenerate or nearly so. If the I/O modes are chosen such that
they are separated by ~10%, the open-loop sensitivity will be increased due to the resonance
effect. It is also critical that no other resonant modes be close to the I/O resonant frequencies.


Vibrating-Wheel Gyroscopes

Many reports of vibrating-wheel gyros also have been published. In this type of gyro, the wheel
is driven to vibrate about its axis of symmetry, and rotation about either in-plane axis results in

the wheel's tilting, a change that can be detected with capacitive electrodes under the wheel.

The vibrating wheel gyro made by Bosch Corp., with capacitive sensing under the wheel, can be
used to detect two in-plane rotational axes.

It is possible to sense two axes of rotation with a single vibrating wheel. A surface micromachined polysilicon vibrating wheel gyro has been designed at the U.C. Berkeley Sensors and
Actuators Center.
This polysilicon surface micro-machined vibrating wheel gyro was designed at the Berkeley
Sensors and Actuators Center. The potential for combining the mechanical resonator and sense
and drive electronics on a single chip permits extreme miniaturization.
3. Wine Glass Resonator Gyroscopes. A third type of gyro is
the wine glass resonator. Fabricated from fused silica, this device
is also known as a hemispherical resonant gyro. Researchers at
the University of Michigan have fabricated resonant-ring gyros in
planar form. In a wine glass gyro, the resonant ring is driven to
resonance and the positions of the nodal points

The Silicon Sensing Systems gyro is fabricated from single-crystal silicon with metal added for
higher conductivity. This device measures 29 by 29 by 18 mm and is used to stabilize the
Segway Human Transporter.

Analog Devices has been working on MEMS gyros for many years, and has patented several
concepts based on modified tuning forks. The company has recently introduced the ADXRS
family of integrated angular rate-sensing gyros, in which the mass is tethered to a polysilicon
frame that allows it to resonate in only one direction. Capacitive silicon sensing elements interdigitized with stationary silicon beams attached to the substrate measure the Coriolis-induced
displacement of the resonating mass and its frame.

The iMEMS ADXRS angular rate-sensing gyro from Analog Devices integrates an angular rate
sensor and signal processing electronics onto a single piece of silicon. Based on the Coriolis
Effect, its very low noise output makes it a good choice for GPS receivers, where critical
location information is required during temporary disruptions of GPS signals.

These devices are based on a vibrating rod that is typically oriented out of the plane of the chip.
They are therefore challenging to build with planar fabrication tools, but recent advances in
MEMS technology allow very high aspect ratio MEMS that make it possible to fabricate the
pendulum without hand assembly of the rod.

Space Orientation: The Oscillation can also be used and controlled in vibrating structure
gyroscope for the positioning of spacecraft such as Cassini-Huygens
Automotive: Automotive yaw rate sensors detect error in predicted yaw response in a
car in conjunction with Steering wheel sensor. Advanced systems are able to detect
rollover of a car
Entertainment: Different gaming companies like Nintendo, Sony employ gyroscope to
make controllers for providing good gaming experience to its customers
Cameras: Image Stabilization System on Camera and Videos employ Vibratory
Industrial Robotics: Vibrations in Robots are detected via MEMS gyroscopes, this helps
robot to work with more precision

With gyros costing as little as $10.00 per sensed axis, they should soon claim a sizeable market

MEMS inertial sensing is an established industry, with performance-to-cost rapidly improving
each year. Gyroscopes and angular accelerometers are entering the marketplace and will soon
make many non-MEMS components obsolete. They should also open up new applications due
to their small size and weight, modest power consumption and cost, and high reliability.

The operating principle of the Thermal MEMS gyroscope is the deflection of a current of moving
hot fluid by the Coriolis force. The Coriolis force refers to the appearance of an object in
rectilinear motion being deflected from its course if observed from a rotating frame of
reference. The Coriolis force is sometimes referred to as a fictitious force, since it disappears
when the physics of the situation are described within an inertial frame of reference.
= 2(


In this device, 2 heaters are placed on the opposite side of device and are switched on/off
alternatively. This creates an oscillating flow of fluid within the sensor, from Heater-On to
Heater-Off. This flow is deflected in the y-direction due to Coriolis force which is directly
proportional to x-velocity of fluid. Shown below is the plot of velocity vector represented by


This deviation of air flow results in Temperature gradient between sensor 1 and sensor 2 as
shown below

The temperature difference is plotted for different angular velocity of device


Periodically reversing the direction of air flow by changing the point of heat influx, helps cancel
out the effect of linear acceleration, which needs to be filtered out to get pure rotation effect.
In the device frame, the Coriolis force direction reverses when the velocity changes direction
for same rotation-sense. If acceleration was linear and not a rotation, the temperature
difference would not fluctuate in sign, and this difference can be noticed by the electronics in
order to filter out the effect.



We have modified our model in terms of feasibility in the practical model. In the given
model there was no inlet and outlet for the fluid which would continuously raise its
temperature. Hence we have given an inlet and an outlet for the fluid.

We have given constant velocity and removed the heaters.

Instead of temperature sensors we are measuring the pressure difference using

pressure sensors.

Due to the rotation of the body the air is deflected on one side and we get a higher
pressure on the side where it deflects and lower on the other side.

In this manner we can judge in which direction the body rotates.


Our Model
For the simulation, a cubic volume of air was taken as the domain of study. The following model
was made on COMSOL Multiphysics version 4.3:

Length unit m
Angular unit deg

Air [gas] was taken as the material from the Material Browser inbuilt into COMSOL. This would
be the easiest material to obtain when considering cost.


Properties of Material
Dynamic Viscosity

Air [gas]
Air [gas]

Property Group

Laminar Flow was assumed, and the results confirmed that this was the right choice of physics.


These did not have to be modified, since the correct physics (laminar flow) was chosen.

Boundary Conditions
Normal Inflow Velocity

1 m/s



0 Pa

Volume Force
Coriolis force is a body-force or volume force, acting on each moving point in the non-inertial
frame It acts in y direction for x direction velocity and z axis of rotation. Since this is not an
inbuilt function, we had to apply the equation for coriolis force in the body-force section. We
have negleced the y-velocity in the force calculation since it is much less than the x direction
velocity, as observed in the simulation.


Normal mesh has been used, with element size varying from 0.03 to 0.1micro-m


COMSOL Simulation Results:

Velocity Distribution:

Evidently, the velocity profile is shifted towards the Coriolis force direction, as expected.
Line Graph

Corresponding points have been chosen on opposite ends of the block, in the y direction. Since
the force direction is y, the pressure at the point of higher y is expected to be higher. The two
pressures are measured, and knowledge of velocity and pressure-difference gives us the
magnitude of rotational velocity at that instant.
X=0.5 y=0.01 z=0.5 = Blue
X=0.5 y=0.99 z=0.5 = Green


The pressure difference increases linearly with increase in omega.


Line Plots at P1: x=0.5 y=0.01 z=0.5

P2: x=0.5 y=0.99 z=0.5

The following data was obtained from COMSOL (, 1 2)

1.00E+08 2.00E+08 3.00E+08 4.00E+08 5.00E+08 6.00E+08 7.00E+08 8.00E+08 9.00E+08 1.00E+09
8.74E-05 -4.62E-05 -1.72E-04 -2.90E-04 -3.97E-04 -4.91E-04 -5.70E-04 -6.28E-04 -6.60E-04 -6.58E-04
3.74E-04 5.25E-04 6.81E-04 8.42E-04 1.01E-03 1.18E-03 1.36E-03 1.55E-03 1.76E-03 1.97E-03

Using Matlab, The data Pressure difference was plotted for different angular velocity

And plot was also made for Omega v/s pressure difference and a correlation was found


Correlation between and P was found out to be
The slope is too high, and the sensitivity is expected to be too low to be of practical importance.
Apart from this, additional sensors will be required to correct for velocity fluctuations. This is
likely to drive up the cost of the device. However, if the sensing method is changed, and an
independent oscillation driving mechanism is added, the sensitivity can be made high enough
to become practical. Cost cannot be estimated without solving these problems first.


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and there applications
2. Nilgoon Zarei, Thermal MEMS Gyroscope Design and Characteristics Analysis, B.Sc.,
Shiraz University, 2009
3. Rui Feng, Jamal Bahari, John Dewey Jones, Albert M. Leung, MEMS thermal gyroscope
with self-compensation of the linear acceleration effect, Elsevier ,30 September, 2013
4. Steven Nasiri, A Critical Review of MEMS Gyroscopes Technology and Commercialization
Status, 2013
5. History of the Gyroscope,