A modified design and fabrication sequence has been devised to improve the performance of a cloverleaf vibratory microgyroscope that includes an axial rod or post rigidly attached to the center of the cloverleaf structure. The basic concepts of cloverleaf vibratory microgyroscopes, without and with rods or posts, were described in two prior articles in NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 21, No. 9 (September 1997): "Micromachined Planar Vibratory Microgyroscopes" (NPO-19713), page 68 and "Planar Vibratory Microgyroscope: Alternative Configuration" (NPO-19714), page 70. As described in more detail in the second-mentioned prior article, the cloverleaf-shaped structure and the rod or post are parts of a vibratory element that senses rotation via the effect of the Coriolis force upon its vibrations.

The Upper and Lower Portions of the Post and Cloverleaf Structure are micromachined from silicon, integral with unitary upper and lower portions of a vibratory microgyroscope. The upper and lower portions are then bonded together.
Heretofore, the posts for devices of this type have been fabricated separately, then assembled manually onto the cloverleaf structures. The resulting imperfections in the assembled units have given rise to asymmetric stresses in the cloverleaf structures and, consequently, to changes in resonant frequencies of vibration and in shapes of vibration modes. These changes, in turn, have caused variations in performance among nominally identical devices.

The modified design provides for the fabrication of the upper half of the post as an integral part of the cloverleaf structure; this is accomplished by reactive-ion etching of a single-piece half-post-and-cloverleaf structure from a wafer of silicon. The lower half of the post and a baseplate are also a single piece made by reactive-ion etching from a wafer of silicon. The two pieces are bonded together (see figure) by a thermal-compression metal-to-metal bonding technique to form a cloverleaf gyroscope with

an integrated post structure.

This work was done by Tony K. Tang, Roman Gutierrez, and Damien Roger of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category.

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Refer to NPO-20688, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.