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ELEC6203 Microsensor Technologies

Module Overview

This module presents a broad overview of microsensor tenchologies, including the basic principles of measurement systems and the scaling effects arising from system miniaturisation. The practical component, assessed by a Lab Report, involves the design and construction of an interface circuit and subsequent characterisation of the performance of a microsensor. ELEC6203 is a prerequisite for ELEC6208 Bio/Micro/Nano Systems. Note that microfabrication techniques are covered in detail in ELEC6201 Microfabrication. The module uses COMSOL Multiphysics, a specialist finite element analysis tool, to model a MEMS sensor.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide an overview of current MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) technology and industrial instrumentation systems, with particular emphasis on smart sensors and actuators.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The basic principles of measurement systems
  • The principles of some common transducer types, their strengths and weaknesses and their use in miniaturised sensors.
  • The benefits of microsensor technology in relation to applications
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate the scaling effects arising from miniaturising systems
  • Design interfaces for microsensors
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Structure and write a technical report
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use industry-standard software to simulate sensor interfacing circuits.
  • Construct an interface circuit and characterise the performance of a microsensor.


- Microfabrication - Magnetic Sensors - Pressure Sensors - Resonant sensors - MEMS resonant sensors - Measurement systems - Physical sensors - Intelligent sensors - Thermal sensors - Charge amplifiers - Interfacing with sensors and actuators (Bridge circuits, Amplifiers, Closed-loop control, Filtering and signal conditioning - Laboratory (Design and construct accelerometer interface circuit, Characterise microsensor performance)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures to explain concepts and 3-4 supervised laboratory sessions to deepen understanding of selected concepts and methodology and to gain practical skills. Also several tutorial sessions to support the lectures and the labs and to help prepare for the examination. Note that the laboratory report will not be marked if the student has not attended the laboratory sessions

Follow-up work18
Wider reading or practice33
Supervised time in studio/workshop12
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task11
Total study time142

Resources & Reading list

Bentley JP (2005). Principles of measurement systems. 

Maluf N and Williams K (2004). An Introduction to Microelectromechanical Systems Engineering. 

Beeby SP, Ensell GJ, Kraft M and White NM (2004). MEMS Mechanical Sensors. 

Brignell JE and White NM (1996). Intelligent sensor systems revised edition. 

Gaura E and Newman R (2006). Smart MEMS and Sensor Systems, Imperial College Press. 

Kaajakari V (2009). Practical MEMS: Design of microsystems, accelerometers, gyroscopes, RF MEMS, optical MEMS, and microfluidic systems. 


Assessment Strategy

Laboratory sessions are scheduled in the labs on level 2 of the Zepler building Length of each session: 3 hours Number of sessions completed by each student: 3 Max number of students per session: unlimited Demonstrator:student ratio: 1:12 Preferred teaching weeks: 6 to 11


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 70%
Laboratory Report 30%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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