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Evolution of Chip-Scale Gyroscopes: From Solid-State to Atomic

A.M. Shkel
University of California Irvine, US

Keywords:
gyroscopes, MEMS, sensors

Abstract:
The principal use of gyroscopes is to measure orientation, heading, or pointing directions. Gyroscopes are the components most critical to the performance and cost of military and commercial navigation, guidance, and vehicle control systems. Gyroscopes are difficult to develop and to optimize, and few new concepts have succeeded in the marketplace. A microminiature inertial instrument is a contradiction in terms: scaling laws show a decrease in performance with size. Even though the fabrication of vibratory gyroscopes with continuously maturing micromachining technologies is expected to become an attractive solution to current inertial sensing market needs, the limited capabilities of photolithography and micro-fabrication processes, and the resulting inherent imperfections in the mechanical structure significantly limit the performance, stability, and robustness of MEMS gyroscopes. It may become a paradigm shift if atoms themselves are used for detection of object rotation. In this case the effect of structural imperfections on the sensing element becomes irrelevant, thus opening opportunities for a new class of miniature atomic-scale gyroscopes with navigation grade performance. This presentation will review activities in the area of well established solid-state gyroscopes and discuss opportunities for atomic gyroscopes, where gyro-magnetic moment of polarized atoms themselves is the basis for detection of object rotation.

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