Monolithic multi degree of freedom (MDoF) capacitive MEMS accelerometers

Zakriya Mohammed, Ibrahim (Abe) M. Elfadel, Mahmoud Rasras

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


With the continuous advancements in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) fabrication technology, inertial sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes can be designed and manufactured with smaller footprint and lower power consumption. In the literature, there are several reported accelerometer designs based on MEMS technology and utilizing various transductions like capacitive, piezoelectric, optical, thermal, among several others. In particular, capacitive accelerometers are the most popular and highly researched due to several advantages like high sensitivity, low noise, low temperature sensitivity, linearity, and small footprint. Accelerometers can be designed to sense acceleration in all the three directions (X, Y, and Z-axis). Single-axis accelerometers are the most common and are often integrated orthogonally and combined as multiple-degree-of-freedom (MDoF) packages for sensing acceleration in the three directions. This type of MDoF increases the overall device footprint and cost. It also causes calibration errors and may require expensive compensations. Another type of MDoF accelerometers is based on monolithic integration and is proving to be effective in solving the footprint and calibration problems. There are mainly two classes of such monolithic MDoF accelerometers, depending on the number of proof masses used. The first class uses multiple proof masses with the main advantage being zero calibration issues. The second class uses a single proof mass, which results in compact device with a reduced noise floor. The latter class, however, suffers from high cross-axis sensitivity. It also requires very innovative layout designs, owing to the complicated mechanical structures and electrical contact placement. The performance complications due to nonlinearity, post fabrication process, and readout electronics affects both classes of accelerometers. In order to effectively compare them, we have used metrics such as sensitivity per unit area and noise-area product. This paper is devoted to an in-depth review of monolithic multi-axis capacitive MEMS accelerometers, including a detailed analysis of recent advancements aimed at solving their problems such as size, noise floor, cross-axis sensitivity, and process aware modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number602
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 16 2018


  • Accelerometer
  • Capacitive transduction
  • Inertial sensors
  • Micromachining
  • Miniaturization
  • Multi-axis sensing
  • Three-axis accelerometer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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