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Hemispherical resonator gyroscope

The Hemispherical Resonator Gyroscope (HRG), also called wine-glass gyroscope or mushroom gyro, is made using a
thin solid-state hemispherical shell, anchored by a thick stem. This shell is driven to a flexural resonance by electrostatic
forces generated by electrodes which are deposited directly onto separate fused-quartz structures that surround the
shell. Gyroscopic effect is obtained from the inertial property of the flexural standing waves. HRG has no moving parts, is
very compact, is extremely reliable and very accurate.,

This is the resonator for a Hemispherical Resonator Gyro (HRG). An HRG senses acceleration by the change in
phase of vibration of a cup-shaped resonator, similar to the way a wine-glass resonates when rubbed by a wet
finger. The device is rugged and accurate, and it has replaced other models of mechanical gyroscopes on most
deep-space missions, as well as in other applications.

Northrop Grumman donated this to the Museum in 2011.


The HRG makes use of a small thin solid-state hemispherical shell, anchored by a thick stem. This shell is
driven to a flexural resonance by dedicated electrostatic forces generated by electrodes which are deposited
directly onto separate fused quartz structures that surround the shell.

For a single-piece design (i.e., the hemispherical shell and stem form a monolithic part) made from high-purity
fused quartz, it is possible to reach Q-factor over 30-50 million in vacuum, so, the corresponding random walks
are extremely low. The Q-factor is limited by coating (extremely thin film of gold or platinum) and by fixture
losses.[1] Such resonators have to be fine-tuned by ion-beam micro-erosion of the glass or by laser ablation in
order to be perfectly dynamically balanced. When coated, tuned and assembled within the housing, the Q-factor
remains over 10 million.

In application to the HRG shell, Coriolis forces cause a precession of vibration patterns around the axis of
rotation. It causes a slow precession of a standing wave around this axis, with an angular rate that differs from
input one. This is the wave inertia effect, discovered in 1890 by British scientist George Hartley Bryan (1864

Therefore, when subject to rotation around the shell symmetry axis, the standing wave does not totally rotate
with the shell. The difference between both rotations is nevertheless perfectly proportional to the input rotation.
The device is then able to sense rotation.

The electronics which sense the standing waves are also able to drive them. Therefore, the gyros can operate in
either a whole angle mode that sense the standing waves' position or a force rebalance mode that holds the
standing wave in a fixed orientation with respect to the gyro.

Originally used is space applications (Attitude and Orbit Control Systems for spacecrafts) [3], HRG is now used
in advanced Inertial navigation system, in Attitude and Heading Reference System and gyrocompass.[4]


The HRG is extremely reliable because of its extremely simple hardware. It has no moving parts; its core is
made of a monolithic part which includes the hemispherical shell and its stem.[5] They demonstrated outstanding
reliability since their initial use in 1996.[6][7]
The HRG is extremely accurate and is not sensitive to external environmental perturbations. The resonating
shell weighs only a few grams and it is perfectly balanced which makes it insensitive to vibrations,
accelerations and shocks.

The HRG doesn't generate any acoustic nor radiated noise because the resonating shell is perfectly balanced and
operates under vacuum.

Thanks to the extremely high Q factor of the resonating shell, the HRG has an extremely low angular random
walk and extremely low power dissipation.

HRG, unlike optical gyros (FOG and RLG), has inertial memory: if the power is lost for a short period of time
(typically few seconds), the sentitive element integrates the input motion (angular rate) so that when the power
returns, the HRG signals the angle turned in the interval of power loss.


HRG is a very high-tech device which requires sophisticated manufacturing tools. The control electronics
required to sense and drive the standing waves, is somewhat sophisticated. This high level of sophistication
strongly limits the dissemination of this technology and only few companies were able to develop it.

HRG is relatively expensive due to the cost of the precision ground and polished hollow quartz hemispheres.
This issue is now overcame thanks to an innovative design. Rather than depositing electrodes on an internal
hemisphere that must perfectly match the shape of the outer resonating hemisphere, electrodes are deposited on
a flat plate that matches the equatorial plan of the resonating hemisphere.

1. HRG are used in space applications (satellites and spacecraft) [5]
2. HRG are used in Space launchers [8]

3. HRG are used for marine maintenance-free gyrocompasses [9][10] as well as Attitude and Heading Reference

4. HRG are used in Target locators [12] and land navigation systems [10][13][14]

5. HRG are poised to be used in Commercial Air Transport navigation systems [15][16]