|dc.description.abstract||Electrical systems have become ubiquitous, and with them come the need to
accurately monitor electric current. The aerospace industry is no exception. Modern
aircraft may contain more than one hundred current sensors, each one critical to a
properly functioning vehicle. While these sensors function acceptably, several areas
have been identified for improvement: size, weight, and cost. Each sensor is bulky,
taking up valuable space. They are also costly to manufacture. The existing design
is based on the Hall effect, and has remained fundamentally unchanged for decades.
With the recent progress in manufacturing techniques and materials, it would be beneficial
to reexamine these sensors and determine if improvements can be made using
the accomplishments of recent years. Of particular interest are microelectromechanical
systems, also known as MEMS. Using a sensor based on MEMS technologies in
which design, function, and fabrication are closely intertwined would automatically
meet two of the three goals: reducing size and weight. MEMS additionally have the
potential to allow existing systems to be miniaturized. Also of interest are advanced
materials, some of which can behave as transducers, linking different physical phenomenon.
The goal of this dissertation is to use advances in manufacturing techniques
and materials, specifically those discussed above, to design a better current sensor.
As part of this goal, several potential solutions were studied and optimized. Finally,
proof-of-concept prototypes were fabricated and tested to validate the feasibility of
the designs and offer insight into continued sensor development.||