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JUL/AUG 2013  

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An overview of MEMS and non-MEMS high performance gyros


Tronics Group

Gyroscopes are some of the most complex handheld sensing instruments built by mankind. Its history goes back two centuries with the introduction of the “Machine of Bohnenberger,” a gyroscope made with a massive sphere rotating with the aid of three pivoted supports, and continues with today’s MEMs high performance versions.


tronics GYPRO2300

A modern gyroscope made with MEMs technology.

The white paper, “An Overview of MEMS and non-MEMS High Performance Gyros,” by the tronics Group, a French company with U.S. offices in San Francisco, looks at this evolution from these early machines, through World War II, and into the modern era of solid-state devices. Since the 1990s, MEMs has been the leading gyroscope technology.

MEMS gyroscopes were demonstrated initially on quartz in the early 1980s, but the use of quartz as a base material was found to limit the compatibility with integrated circuit batch technology, according to the white paper. In 1987, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, Mass., demonstrated a working MEMS gyro on silicon. Seven years later, it began to be used for automotive applications, and in 1998 Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany) introduced the first silicon MEMS gyro for automotive stability control, which the white paper says was a major milestone enabling the widespread use of gyros for automotive and then consumer applications in the 2000s.

In the consumer market, the three-axis MEMS gyro is now the new standard, achieved with the combination of two in-plane (x- and y-axis) and one out-of-plane (z-axis) gyros on a single chip.

Future gyroscopes may adapt into new technologies, predicts the white paper, such as such as cold atom interferometry, integrated optics and nuclear magnetic resonance.

To download the white paper, click here.