Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Novel motion nanosensor based on mechanical amplification

Posted by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPCResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

In the past years there is an increasing interest to incorporate in any electronic device a motion sensor to provide interaction: measuring our reactions, position or motion. Therefore, the motion sensors should be low-cost but more precise. A nanosensor based on a motion amplifier mechanism is presented. The design can amplify extremely small displacements (nanometers) up to 200 times. Partners to further develop the system and/or to establish commercial agreements along with technical cooperation are sought.

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

The Challenge


The past two decades have witnessed the evolution of Microelectromechanical devices (MEMS) from a laboratory curiosity to a solid and mature technology. Besides the obvious advantage in space reduction, the scaling laws are such that miniaturization results in reduced power consumption, lower thermal mass, higher operational frequencies, lower noise and vastly improved sensitivities.
But it remains a high technological challenge the possibility to produce nano motionsensors that can sense nanodisplacement and can be mass produced. To help address these challenges, we proposed to develop a single mask design MEMS-based ultra-sensitive motion sensor (load cell) based on a novel motion amplifier mechanism.

The Technology


A MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) nano motion sensor has been developed to detect extremely small displacement. The design uses a capacitive read-out scheme to monitor the lateral displacement of a slender beam in response to the axially applied force.
To greatly amplify the lateral displacement (and hence the sensitivity), the beam is designed with an initial (small) curvature. The amplification factor is controlled by the geometry of the beam. The mid-point of the beam is connected on each side to one electrode of a charged capacitor, with the other electrode held stationary. Small capacitance changes can be measured very accurately with inexpensive commercially available detectors thus providing a very sensitive measurement of the applied axial load. The design can be manufactured in any single mask microfabrication process.

Current stage of development


The system has been successfully tested in a laboratory prototype. In general, this motion sensor provides exceptional resolution, but the range has to be tuned according to the application. The designs tested predict a wider range of acceleration forces, tens of microNewtons, with higher resolutions, and below the picoNewton in vacuum.

Applications and Target Market


The motion amplifier mechanism can be integrated in different topologies of motion sensors: accelerometer or angular accelerometer, threshold accelerometers and switches.
Since it can be fabricated in any single mask fabrication process resulting in a robust economical device the target market is mass production products such as: mobile hand sets.

Innovative advantages


Single mask lithography process and CMOS Compatibility Highly sensitive measurements Low-cost Robust economical device Easy packaging

Intellectual property status

Granted Patent
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Technology available for licensing with technical cooperation Patent Status Priority application n e -

Technology Owner

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office

Related keywords

  • Electronics, IT and Telecomms
  • Sensor Technology related to measurements
  • Measurements and Standards
  • Sensors & Wireless products
  • Mechanical Technology related to measurements
  • Switches and wiring
  • Computer related
  • motion sensors
  • nanosensor
  • mechanical amplification
  • accelerometer
  • angular accelerometer
  • mobile hand-sets

About Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - UPC

Technology Transfer Office from Spain

The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya - BarcelonaTech is a public institution dedicated to higher education and research in the fields of engineering, architecture and science, which contributes its knowledge and expertise in order to increase scientific output, transfer its results to society and provide a network of scientific and technical state-of-the-art facilities and technology valorization services that place us at the leading edge of innovation and economic development.

The UPC has established itself as a driver of innovation and is the technology partner of choice for companies and organizations with which it develops projects and builds partnerships. A role borne out by the numerous agreements and research projects that have been set in motion by groups, organizations and laboratories; the creation of new technology-based companies; the generation and exploitation of patents, and the scientific and technical services UPC makes available to its environment in order to generate progress and employment.

The Technology Transfer Office (SGI) is responsible of Designing, coordinating and implementing research valorisation strategies, carrying out the protection policy of the research results, marketing these results through license contracts and designing and setting up the University's enterprise creation model in order to transfer the results of the research to the market, protect and commercialize these results, promote the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, and create technology-based companies within the UPC environment.

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