IIT Madras & DRDO to develop MEMS Technology Sensor for Underwater Communications

Reported By Poornima Rawat / Technical Correspondent THE GPS TIME

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have collaborated to develop a Piezoelectric MEMS Technology Sensor for Underwater Communications. Designed particularly for the naval forces and defence applications, this cutting edge sensor technology will be deployed by the Indian Navy’s next generation SONAR initiative by DRDO.

The technology will enable fabrication of the devices in India at low cost as compared to the international foundries, where the production cost of fabrication is high and availability of foundries are limited. This collaboration to develop a cutting edge Piezoelectric MEMS Technology Sensor will help the defence sector of India to expand its capabilities beyond limits.

Piezoelectric MEMS Technology is required for the process of fabricating high-performance thin films and transforming those  “piezo thin films” into sophisticated navigational sensors and equipment for underwater applications. These Piezo Thin Films are one of the most important components of Piezo MEMS devices and are used in acoustics and vibration sensing applications.

IIT Madras Researchers and DRDO Scientists collaborated with multiple partners for the development of a piezo MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) process technology to create the Piezo MEMS Acoustic Sensor based Thin Film Membrane. They successfully jointly developed the piezo MEMS process technology for the complete fabrication of an acoustic sensor, without degrading the piezo thin film functionality.

In terms of functionality as compared to the conventional PVDF-based acoustic sensor, the fabricated PZT thin film-based Acoustic MEMS Technology Sensor exhibits higher performance. This sensor technology will allow the researchers to fabricate piezo MEMS acoustic devices of high-performance for the defence applications. It will support the futuristic technologies for DRDO next-generation SONAR programme for the Indian Navy. 

The research was led by IIT Madras professors Amitava Das Gupta and Boby George along with E. Varadarajan, scientist and V. Natarajan, senior scientist of DRDO at the DRDO Industry Academia – Ramanujan Centre of Excellence (DIA-CRoE) in the institute. Dr. O R Nandagopan, Director of the DRDO Industry Academia- Ramanujan CoE said, “This technology will be a disruptive technology in this domain and our country has achieved ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ in underwater materials and micro device processing technology,”.

Piezoelectric MEMS Technology Sensor

A Piezoelectric MEMS Technology Sensor has the ability to detect and convert underwater acoustic signals into electrical signals which makes it ideal for underwater communications. These sensors help in the communication between underwater devices through their capability to capture sound waves and vibrations in the water. These MEMS sensors are designed to withstand the harsh conditions and high pressures of underwater environments and play an important role in transmitting data underwater.