South African Journal of Science
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
Most microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) sensors are based on the microcantilever technology, which uses a broad range of design materials and structures. The benefit of MEMS technology is in developing devices with a lower cost, lower power consumption, higher performance and greater integration. A free-end cantilever beam with a magnetic material mass has been designed using MEMS software tools. The magnetic material was used to improve the sensitivity of the cantilever beam to an externally-applied magnetic field. The cantilever was designed to form a capacitance transducer, which consisted of variable capacitance where electrical and mechanical energies were exchanged. The aim of this paper was to analyse the system design of the microcantilever when subjected to a magnetic field produced by a current-carrying conductor. When the signal, a sinusoidal current with a constant frequency, was applied, the cantilever beam exhibited a vibration motion along the vertical axis when placed closer to the line current. This motion created corresponding capacitance changes and generated a voltage output proportional to the capacitive change in the signal-processing circuitry attached to the microcantilever. The equivalent mass-spring system theory was used to describe and analyse the effect of the natural frequency of the system vibrations and motion due to the applied magnetic field, in a single-degree of freedom. The main application of this microcantilever is in current measurements to develop a non-contact current sensor mote.
Keywords : MEMS; microcantilever; capacitance transducer; mass-spring.