The purpose of this paper is to develop a novel MEMS vector hydrophone with the key features of smaller size, better consistency, higher sensitivity and directional reception, and to develop a highly effective and economical obstacle avoidance sonar system. Currently, the typical vector hydrophones are resonant vector hydrophones based on the accelerometer, which greatly increases the volume and constrains the detection sensitivity. Also, because the system is composed of a number of devices, its size is difficult to be reduced.
A novel double T-shape MEMS vector hydrophone is proposed with a fish’s lateral line organs as prototypes. The structure size and layout location of the piezoresistors were determined by simulation analysis, and the double T-shape microstructure was fabricated integrally by MEMS manufacturing technology, after which, the acoustic package of the microstructure was completed and the prototype was produced. Finally, the packaged hydrophone was calibrated in a standing wave field in the first-class national-defense underwater acoustic calibration station of China. Also, the design and test of an obstacle avoidance sonar system based on the vector hydrophone were completed.
The calibration data show that the double T-shape vector hydrophone has a flat frequency response curve, exhibits a sensitivity of −180 dB (1 kHz, 0 dB reference 1 V/uPa) and shows a good directivity pattern in the form of an “8” shape. The test results of the obstacle avoidance sonar system further verify the feasibility of detecting underwater acoustic signals.
The next work is to increase the sensitivity by optimizing the microstructure and to realize orientation by organizing array.
The hydrophone has the advantages of smaller size, lower cost and directional reception. It can be used to develop highly effective and economical obstacle avoidance sonar system, thus solving the problems of water transport efficiency and traffic safety. The hydrophone has broad application prospects and a huge market potential in the civilian fields.
The MEMS technology and innovative bionic microstructure enable the miniaturization and low cost of the hydrophone. The hydrophone is easy to form array and can narrow the array aperture greatly. So, the hydrophone can be widely used in civil sonar systems.
Linxian, L., Wendong, Z., Guojun, Z., Linggang, G., Chenyang, X., Hui, Z. and Nan, X. (2015), "Research on double T-shape MEMS bionic vector hydrophone and its application in obstacle avoidance sonar", Sensor Review, Vol. 35 No. 1, pp. 76-84. https://doi.org/10.1108/SR-05-2014-642
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