Pressure sensors play an important role in engine maintenance and monitoring systems by diagnosing problems before they happen. To capture the most accurate data, however, these sensors must be placed directly on an engine. In order to withstand extreme temperature and vibration, traditional pressure sensor technologies are bulky and complex, lacking the onboard control of microsystem technologies. Glenn's new capacitive pressure sensor system and packaging is the first of its kind to achieve high-temperature capability while maintaining miniaturization.
This novel system consists of a Clapp-type oscillator that is fabricated on a high-temperature alumina substrate. It comprises a silicon carbide (SiC) nitride pressure sensor, a metal-semiconductor field-effect transistor, and one or more chip resistors, wire-wound inductors, and SiC metal-insulator-metal (MIM) capacitors. The pressure sensor is located in the tank circuit of the oscillator so that a variation in pressure causes a change in capacitance, thus altering the resonant frequency of the sensing system. The chip resistors, inductors, and MIM capacitors have been characterized at temperature and operational frequency, and exhibit less than 5% variance in electrical performance.
The system, which can be installed with a borescope plug adaptor in an on-wing operating engine, has been extensively tested and proven to operate reliably under extreme conditions. Its compact size, wireless capability, and ability to provide real-time, in-situ data acquisition make this technology a game-changer in next-generation maintenance and monitoring systems.