A modular self-contained modular platform is described, for easy integration with micro sensors and other sensor elements. The platform is designed to be physically robust and suitable for harsh environments. The platform features switch able power modes, signal processing capabilities and extensive I/O for sensor and external device communications, data download and transmission. The modular design allows flexible implementation of required functionality depending on the particular application and also provides flexibility for packaging solutions. Two practical applications of the platform are presented to demonstrate its use. Firstly a variety of human exercise activities are investigated using accelerometers. Secondly a weather station made up of environmental sensors using off the shelf and prototype sensors is described. Both of these applications differ greatly in their operational requirements. These implementations demonstrate the adaptability of the platform for different applications.
Integrated smart sensors are quickly becoming an industry norm and often require multi-stage, multi-skilled design. This paper describes the fabrication of a temperature compensated light sensor using only a basic fabrication laboratory. A complete description of how to build the sensing elements, support electronics and communications is described and test results are presented. The construction of a light sensor using a shottkey barrier diode between the nickel and n-type silicon has been previously described by the authors. In this two such sensors are used as active and passive sensor elements to compensate for temperature effects. The outputs from each are differentially amplified, conditioned and buffered using an LM324 die to provide a temperature compensated output. Further reduction in size is possible when the temperature sensors are mounted front to back on a single silicon substrate and coupled directly to the LM324 die. External communications are only power, ground and an analogue signal.
The use of silicon-based sensors requires the addition of external support electronics to allow for compatibility with external logging and display instruments. The development of a smart sensor technology, where the support electronics are incorporated into the sensor allows for a simpler interface. To achieve this integration techniques are required for the connection of substrate sensors with drive and support circuitry (operational amplifiers and CMOS circuitry), for effective encapsulation into a single packaged device. In this paper a literature review of basic peripheral and internal interconnect techniques is presented. Three techniques for interconnects were experimentally investigated (wraparound, thermomigration and etched micro via’s) using in-house fabrication equipment and the results presented and discussed. An integrated "smart" light sensor was constructed by forming a schotkey diode on n-type silicon. The sensor was integrated with a commercially available LM324 quad operational amplifier die and etched micro via`s were used to connect between the electronics on one side and the silicon sensor on the other side so forming a smart sensor. The light level sensor was calibrated and tested for suitability as a solar intensity monitor.