AIR FORCE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB United States
Presented is the first iteration of a Microelectromechanical System MEMS dual vertical electrometer and electrostatic field-mill EFM sensor. The device uses a resonating structure to create a variable capacitance that modulates a charge or field into an electrical signal. Previous MEMS electrometers are lateral electrometers with laterally spaced electrodes that resonate tangentially with respect to each other. Vertical electrometers, as the name suggests, have vertically spaced electrodes that resonate parallel with respect to each other. The non-tangential movement reduces damping in the system. Both types demonstrate comparable performance, but the vertical electrometer does so at a fraction of the size. In addition, the vertical electrometer can easily have an electric field sensor mode. The electric field sensor simulations did not compare as well to other MEMS electric field sensors. However, the duel nature of this device makes it appealing. These devices can be used in missiles and satellites to monitor charge buildup in electronic components and the atmosphere. Future iterations can improve these devices and give way to inexpensive, high-resolution electrostatic charge and field sensors.