Guest Author: Jérôme Juillard, Ph.D., Professor, CentraleSupélec (Paris-Saclay University)
Every year, I teach different aspects of sensors and MEMS design to about a hundred students. The pupils range from first year to last year students at CentraleSupélec and the M2 Nanoscience program at Paris-Saclay University, where I am a professor.
For more than a year, since I created some new courses at CentraleSupélec (and thanks to the support of Coventor), I have completely revisited the way that I teach sensors and MEMS design. I now substantially rely on Coventor’s MEMS+® product, which has many advantages from a pedagogical point of view:
- Easy to learn and use. Typically, my students can complete a “home assignment” in about 3 hours that contains the fundamentals of the software and prepares the students for their tutorials. The tutorials cover more advanced MEMS design software functionality and can be used to understand the concepts seen in class (eigenmodes, sensor sensitivity and resolution, influence quantities, exploration of design space, etc.).
- Visual examples and numerical results. One can easily take advantage of the numerous “ready to use” examples provided in the software to illustrate, in a few clicks, a principle (operation of an accelerometer, a gyroscope) or a concept in a much more striking and convincing way than by drawing a mass, a spring or arrows on a board. Moreover, this makes it possible to quickly bridge the gap between an analytical formula, which is essential to a designer but is also quite abstract, and a numerical value.
- Multidisciplinary capabilities. The fact that MEMS+ interfaces easily with Cadence®, Simulink®, MATLAB® and of course CoventorWare® makes it possible to connect with students who have a wide range of interests, whether they are interested in applied mathematics, optimization, control theory, electronics, mechanics or physics. In my opinion, this is the true appeal of MEMS technology, and it is also one of the major attractions of MEMS+.
The use of MEMS+ for illustrating teaching concepts has been particularly valuable this semester, during which all of my teaching had to be done remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and where I had neither a white board worthy of the name, nor a stand where I could mimic the pitch and roll (or yaw) of a gyroscope. Using MEMS+ in my lectures, and putting it in the hands of the students during the tutorials and projects that followed, made it possible to establish a pedagogical continuity, which was crucial in this difficult context.
Student Project – Model of an ST Microelectronics accelerometer
Objective: to propose the most suitable simulation model of a 3-axis accelerometer, with data from a teardown (MEMS Journal) and a datasheet of the accelerometer as starting points for the design.
Student Project – MEMS design optimization
Objective: to optimize a system of mechanical levers and electrostatic actuators to tune the frequency of a resonator over the widest possible range, under constraints of a maximum occupied surface and maximum applied voltage.
About the Author
Jérôme Juillard is a Professor within the GEEPS laboratory at CentraleSupélec, a French engineering program. He specializes in MEMS research, with an interest in resonant MEMS devices. His current research interests include the study of coupled MEMS oscillators for sensing applications and the operation of MEMS oscillators in the nonlinear regime.