63) What is an Accelerometer?

Still with me?

Ok, in my last post this midwest boy went to Massachusetts to work for Analog Devices developing a microchip that turned out to be quite special – saving lives and by the author’s estimate, earning millions.

In this post, with your patience, I’ll further organize information about the product called ADXL50, the world’s first accelerometer on a chip. (This project effort is in keeping with the theme that making things smaller is better – it can be – and cheaper –  it almost always is.)

What is An Accelerometer?

2013-05-28_1623Since an accelerometer is a device for measuring g-force acceleration, it would be useful to measure acceleration across many industries and applications, such as engineering, biology, building and structural monitoring, medical, navigation, transport, consumer electronics, orientation sensing, motion input, image stabilization and device integrity. An illustration of the principle of g-force is shown on above. Source: http://www.siliconfareast.com/accelerometers.htm


AD43_02_FIG-02In the late 1980’s our team at Analog Devices Incorporated (ADI) chose to create a device that measures g-force acceleration and put it on a tiny chip. The marketing group had determined that the application of interest – and one that offered the most potential for long-term profit – was a chip to place in automobile airbag modules. The obvious advantage of developing a very small accelerometer (approximately a thousand times smaller, 20 times more accurate and 50 percent cheaper than what existed at the time). We called it The ADXL50. A magnified image of the moveable section of  the actual silicon chip is shown on above. Source: http://www.analog.com/library/analogdialogue/archives/43-02/mems_microphones.html

ADXL50 from Analog Devices – more

img00002From concept to silicon, the ADXL50 took approximately three and one-half years to develop and involved over two hundred engineers, technicians, operators and financial, legal, marketing officials.

The image on the left depicts the various circuits that were required to allow the completed ADXL50 to sense and measure g-force acceleration along one (Y) axis of movement. Chip size is 3 mm x 3 mm. Image courtesy of NAP.EDU at http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=5977&page=8

Here is a link that describes the concepts and outcomes more clearly: http://www.stanford.edu/class/me220/data/lectures/lect09/lect_5.html

Did you ever experience the feeling of being a part of a team that accomplished something great?

Next: Did you let a rotten childhood defeat you?

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