(Received September 19, 2002; accepted for publication November 20, 2002)
This paper reports an electrostatically levitated inertia measurement system which is based on the principle of a rotational gyro. The device has several advantages: the levitation of the rotor in a vacuum eliminates mechanical friction resulting in high sensitivity; the position control for the levitation allows accelerations to be sensed in the tri-axis; and the fabrication of the device by a micromachining technique has the cost advantages afforded by miniaturization. Latest measurements yield a noise floor of the gyro and that of the accelerometer as low as 0.15 deg/h1/2 and 30 µG/Hz1/2, respectively. This performance is achieved by a new sensor design. To further improve of the previous device, a ring-shaped structure is designed and fabricated by deep reactive ion etching using inductively coupled plasma. The rotor levitation is performed with capacitive detection and electrostatic actuation. Multiaxis closed-loop control is realized by differential capacitance sensing and frequency multiplying. The rotation of the micro gyro is based on the principle of a planar variable capacitance motor.