Pressure Profile Systems (PPS, www.pressureprofile.com based in Los Angeles) is the world leader in distributed pressure sensing. PPS produce high performance sensing systems that are used in medical, robotics, manufacturing and automotive sectors. PPS have an international strategic partnership with the University of Strathclyde that sees Strathclyde researchers support PPS in the development of exciting new research opportunities. The studentship will be supported by PPS’s R&D team based in Glasgow (PPS UK Limited).
PPS’s capacitive pressure sensors offer world leading performance in terms of sensitivity, but suffer from mechanical creep, where the measurement slowly grows over time when a constant load is applied. There is also a small, but notable cross-sensitivity to temperature. This limits PPS sensors to dynamic, constant temperature applications. Although additional sensors (such as thermocouples), and novel algorithms can mask these issues to some extent, they break down in many situations or over time periods over a few minutes. This PhD will look at the root mechanical causes and through a combination of modelling, novel materials and novel material stack-ups develop sensors that are more mechanically stable. It will be interesting to consider new inotropic materials that amplify the capacitive change with deformation, enabling a stiffer sensor that is less prone to creep.
Novel sensor designs will be modelled in COMSOL multiphysics simulation and through finite element modelling. The model will be experimentally verified using the University's metrology laboratories.
In parallel, the student will conduct an evaluation of state of the art capacitive sensing integrated circuits that have recently seen a lot of development through the widespread adoption of capacitive touch screens in the consumer market. This will be combined with a review of embedded communication chips. The goal would be to create a miniature, low power, high performance system for tactile sensing.