MEMS shear stress sensors: promise and progress

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida -Gainesville, 32611-6250, Florida; MS170, NASA Langley Research Center Hampton Virginia, 23681
IUTAM Symposium on Flow Control and MEMS 09/2006;

ABSTRACT This paper reviews existing microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based shear stress sensors. The promise and progress of MEMS scaling advantages to improve the spatial and temporal resolution and accuracy of shear stress measurement is critically reviewed. The advantages and limitations of existing devices are discussed. Finally, unresolved technical issues are summarized for future sensor development.

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    ABSTRACT: In wall-bounded turbulent flows, determination of wall shear stress is an important task. The main objective of the present work is to develop a sensor which is capable of measuring surface shear stress over an extended region applicable to wall-bounded turbulent flows. This sensor, as a direct method for measuring wall shear stress, consists of mounting a thin flexible film on the solid surface. The sensor is made of a homogeneous, isotropic, and incompressible material. The geometry and mechanical properties of the film are measured, and particles with the nominal size of 11μm in diameter are embedded on the film’s surface to act as markers. An optical technique is used to measure the film deformation caused by the flow. The film has typically deflection of less than 2% of the material thickness under maximum loading. The sensor sensitivity can be adjusted by changing the thickness of the layer or the shear modulus of the film’s material. The paper reports the sensor fabrication, static and dynamic calibration procedure, and its application to a fully developed turbulent channel flow at Reynolds numbers in the range of 90,000–130,000 based on the bulk velocity and channel full height. The results are compared to alternative wall shear stress measurement methods.
    Experiments in Fluids 51(1):137-147. · 1.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Novel aqueous shear stress sensors based on bulk carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were developed by utilizing microelectrical mechanical system (MEMS) compatible fabrication technology. The sensors were fabricated on glass substrates by batch assembling electronics-grade CNTs (EG-CNTs) as sensing elements between microelectrode pairs using dielectrophoretic technique. Then, the CNT sensors were permanently integrated in glass-polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic channels by using standard glass-PDMS bonding process. Upon exposure to deionized (DI) water flow in the microchannel, the characteristics of the CNT sensors were investigated at room temperature under constant current (CC) mode. The specific electrical responses of the CNT sensors at different currents have been measured. It was found that the electrical resistance of the CNT sensors increased noticeably in response to the introduction of fluid shear stress when low activation current (Lt1 mA) was used, and unexpectedly decreased when the current exceeded 5 mA. We have shown that the sensor could be activated using input currents as low as 100 muA to measure the flow shear stress. The experimental results showed that the output resistance change could be plotted as a linear function of the shear stress to the one-third power. This result proved that the EG-CNT sensors can be operated as conventional thermal flow sensors but only require ultra-low activation power ( ~ 1 muW), which is ~ 1000 times lower than the conventional MEMS thermal flow sensors.
    IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology 10/2008; · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have developed SWCNT sensors for air-flow shear-stress measurement inside a polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) “micro-wind tunnel” chip. An array of sensors is fabricated by using dielectrophoretic (DEP) technique to manipulate bundled single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) across the gold microelectrodes on a PMMA substrate. The sensors are then integrated in a PMMA micro-wind tunnel, which is fabricated by SU-8 molding/hot-embossing technique. Since the sensors detect air flow by thermal transfer principle, we have first examined the I–V characteristics of the sensors and confirmed that self-heating effect occurs when the input voltage is above ~1V. We then performed the flow sensing experiment on the sensors using constant temperature (CT) configuration with input power of ~230μW. The voltage output of the sensors increases with the increasing flow rate in the micro-wind tunnel and the detectable volumetric flow is in the order of 1×10−5m3/s. We also found that the activation power of the sensors has a linear relation with 1/3 exponential power of the shear stress which is similar to conventional hot-wire and polysilicon types of convection-based shear-stress sensors. Moreover, measurements of sensors with different overheat ratios were compared, and results showed that sensor is more sensitive to the flow with a higher overheat ratio. KeywordsCarbon nanotubes-CNT sensors-Micro-flow sensor-Micro shear-stress sensor
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