Feedback control has proven useful in improving reliability and performance for a variety of systems. However there has been limited success implementing feedback control on surface micromachined MEMS devices. The inherent difficulties in sensing microscale phenomena complicate the development of an economical transducer that can accurately monitor the states of a surface micromachined system. We have demonstrated a simple and effective sensing strategy that uses the piezoresistive property of the polysilicon thin film of which surface micromachined MEMS devices are fabricated. The states of the device are monitored by measuring the change in resistance of flexible members which deflect as the device moves. Measurement of the output displacement of an in-plane thermal actuator is presented as a candidate application. While there still is a noise issue to be dealt with, this approach provides adequate signal strength to implement feedback control using off-chip analog circuitry. Implementation of proportional/integral control on the system is successfully demonstrated.

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