Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



Inertial grade microgyroscopes are of great importance to improve and augment inertial navigation systems based on GPS for industrial, automotive, and military applications. The efforts by various research groups worldwide to develop inertial grade microgyroscopes have not been successful to date. In 1994, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Louisiana State University and SatCon Technology Corporation (Boston, Massachusetts) proposed a series of shock tolerant micromachined vibrating cylinder rate gyroscopes with aspect ratios of up to 250:1 to meet the needs of inertial navigation systems based on existing conventional vibrating cylinder gyroscopes. Each microgyroscope consisted of a tall thin shell metallic cylinder attached to a substrate at one end and surrounded by four drive- and four sense-electrodes. The proposed drive- and sense-mechanisms were capacitive-force and capacitance-change, respectively. Since the high aspect ratio metallic microgyroscope structures could not be fabricated by using traditional silicon-based MEMS processes, a LIGA-based two layer fabrication process was developed. A wiring layer was constructed by using a combination of thick film photolithography and electroplating (nickel and gold) on a silicon substrate covered with silicon nitride and a tri-layer plating base; aligned X-ray lithography and nickel electroplating were used to build the high aspect ratio cylinders and electrodes. Deficiencies in the LIGA process were also addressed in this research. Three types of X-ray mask fabrication processes for multi-level LIGA were developed on graphite, borosilicate glass and silicon nitride substrates. Stable and reliable gold electroplating methods for X-ray masks were also established. The plating rate and internal stress of deposits were thoroughly characterized for two brands of commercially available sulfite-based gold electroplating solutions, Techni Gold 25E and NEUTRONEX 309. The gaps between the cylinders and electrodes, which are defined by thin PMMA walls during electroplating, were found to be smaller than designed and deformed in many of the microgyroscope structures. The lateral dimensional loss (LDL) and deformation were identified to be related to the overall thickness and lateral aspect ratio (LAR) of the thin PMMA walls.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael C. Murphy